Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Indie Authors - How to have a book signing or Meet the Author - event

So you've self published a book, now you can sit back and count your Benjamin's right?  Unless you already have been mainstream and have a fan-base, that isn't going to happen.  You want people to know your name, believe in you (other than your mother), and can put a face with the name.  That means buy some lip-gloss (if you're a guy, you can skip that step), take care of the unibrow (guys, that's you), iron your clothes (seriously, don't skip this step), buy hand sanitizer (you gotta shake some hands) and get ready to sell yourself.  Hold up...how you gonna do that?  Here's how you're going to do that...first and foremost, BELIEVE.  You can't sell yourself if you don't believe in the work that you've done.

I know we all think of fabulous signings with lines out the door to meet you. Indie authors are more accepted now than ever before.  Readers don't really know the difference if you sell yourself correctly.  If you don't have a physical book, you can have a "Meet the Author" event.  I'll address this part first.  I'm not going to cover the issue of having a GREAT cover, because you know that already.  Go to www.vista.com and order some postcards and a banner with your book cover on it.  I suggest getting the small one.... I ordered the medium size and wish I'd gone smaller, watch for sales, they have them often.  On your postcards, have your website, email address and where they can buy your book.  (Barnes and Noble, Amazon..etc.).  If you went through Smashwords, make a coupon code that is good for a week.   My books are young adult, so I wanted to do a signing where young adults go.  I called a trendy used bookstore that college kids go.  They said yes.  You'll be surprised how easy it really is, once you get the guts to call.  I try to go ask in person but if not, I send an email with all of the details and my website.  I contacted the mall in the town I live in and asked if I could come in and they too said yes.  One thing about my mall, if I had actually been selling a book, I would have had to pay them to have it.  Make up a flyer about your signing and go to places and hang it up.  Your hairdresser, your day job, ask places that your target audience go to if you can put it there.  If you have a local Shopper style newspaper that gives free ads for 'things going on around town' put it there.  I mailed postcards to all of my friends with a reminder of the event. You have to work hard for it, but hopefully it will all pay off.  I brought my laptop and played my video trailer on a loop (it continuously played), people came by to watch the video and others stopped by for free postcards.  I gave the coupon code to people to get the book for free.  Yes, you have to give away a lot of copies to get the fans you want for the long-run.

I'm a believer in having a physical book to sign.  I used Createspace for mine.  It was not expensive.  I paid $39.99 for the pro-plan.  Once I formatted the book and passed the edits, I ordered a proof and now I have a beautiful book to sign.  The books cost me about $4.50 each to have made and shipped to me, and I sell them on my website.  I give them away on blog hops and I have book signing where people buy the book and I sign it.

Let me give you pointers about talking to the public.

1.  You are the one that knows the book inside and out, your enthusiasm is what will sell it.  Be clear, be concise and be HAPPY.  They don't care if your life sucks, pretend it doesn't and sell that book.

2.  Bring a couple of people with you that have read the book.  Make sure they're happy too.  It helps if they've read the book and chat-up your book to people.

3.  I know we hate comparisons, but sometimes you have to compare yourself to someone they've heard of.  If your book is similar to Hunger Games, tell them.  Say something like, "Do you like Suzanne Collins Hunger Games?  If you did, you'll enjoy this book.  I love her writing style and people have said that my style is very similar."  Sadly many people will tell you they don't read books, or your genre.  That's okay, because they probably know someone that does.  Give them your postcard and ask them to pass it along.  I always give a person two, one for them, one for a friend.

4.  I was a smoker years ago, and one thing I can't stand now, is the smell of smoke.  I know what it's like to be nervous and want to chain smoke and if that is what you need to do, do it.  Put on a shower cap over your hair and a raincoat on for smoking...so you won't smell like it.  If you write YA books, you want to set an example and I've yet to know a smoker that is glad they started.  You don't want a kid to go home and say "Well, Gina the author smokes, so it must be okay."
5.  If a glass of wine is needed, go ahead, but just one.  Don't show up drunk or tipsy.  That is a train wreck that you want to avoid.

6.  Smile, you need to enjoy the moment.  You worked just as hard as a mainstream author but you don't have a publishing house with their name on the line, your's is.

7.  You're an artist so you don't have to wear a business suit.  Business suits are nice but intimidating to teens.  The low-cut number is a no-no too.  They don't want to buy a book from a boring grown-up in a suit.  Guys, no suits.  Khakis and a polo is great.  Gold chains and shirts unbuttoned with a bunch of chest hair hanging out won't impress a teen (or many women).

8.  No gum.

Good luck, and if you have suggestions - please comment :)


  1. This is a great list. All useful things I need to know (especially the No Gum rule). Thank you.

    1. Chew on breath mints - Mentos has a chewy kind now and it makes your breath kissable. I don't recommend kissing the fans...it makes for an awkward moment for everyone else (wink)

  2. Wonderful tips, Devyn! I'm going to be visiting some local schools with a couple of other YA authors in May, and many of these will apply. I appreciate you taking the time to write this up!

    1. Thank you Raine....btw in Malevolence there is a character named Raine :) I couldn't resist!