I did my first solo book signing four days after THE SHATTERED DARK was released last year. Prior to then, the only signings I’d participated in were at the RT Booklovers Convention, which is HUGE, and one at a local writers convention. I sold three times as many books at the smaller convention. That’s no surprise. It’s a more intimate envrionment, and J. R. Ward and Charlaine Harris weren’t there.
I’ve heard, as I’m sure you have, that book signings aren’t worth an author’s time these days. But I wanted the experience, and I wanted to be able to say that I did it. So, I set my expectations low and scheduled it.
I scheduled it with my local independent book store. It has a great set up, the staff is super friendly, and I want to support the store. I drove out there on a Saturday afternoon and set up my table fifteen minutes before the signing was to begin.
Was it worth it? Yes and no. Here’s what I learned from my first solo book signing:
1. I am a nobody. Honestly, I knew this going in, but I guess a small part of me was hoping that one reader would come all excited. It didn’t exactly happen, but I did have one person stop by who’s friend highly recommended my books to her! That made my day!
2. Scope out the bookstore before booking the signing. I didn’t do this and that was probably my biggest mistake. I didn’t want to be an author who sat behind her table and didn’t make an effort to greet readers, so I watched the sci-fi/fantasy section of the store, where my genre is shelved. In the two hours I was there, I only saw two – two! – people go to that section. Most people came in with kids (not my target audience) or went to the cookbook section (again, not my target audience). Despite how much I love and want to support this book store, it was not the place I should have been.
3. I was extremely well prepared! This is the reason I’m happy I did this solo signing. I thought it through and had everything I needed: bottled water, permanent marker for signing ereaders/bookmarks, my favorite pens for signing the title pages of paperback books, sticky notes so I didn’t screw up anyone’s name, “signed by the author” stickers, an email sign-up list with a gift card giveaway, and chocolate!
These were inexpensive and so easy to make! I’ll post a tutorial later if anyone’s interested.
4. I also brought a stand where I printed off my book covers with a QR code to an excerpt. I kept this at my table, but next time, I think I’ll put it by the register. That’ll let people look at it without feeling awkward around me (or me feeling awkward around them, lol). It also signals to book buyers that an author is in the store signing.
I ended up selling close to half the books the store ordered. That’s primarily due to my super awesome grandmother who brought her posse with her to the store! (Seriously, I have the coolest and hippest grandmother ever. She’s one of my biggest fans, and she’s got all the latest gadgets – iPhone, iPad, satellite TV, etc. Love her!)
Will I do another solo signing? No, not unless I somehow hit it big and readers demand it. I’m much more comfortable signing in groups, and it makes more sense to spend my time at conference signings, where people are there to buy books and discover new authors.
What are your experiences with solo book signings? Do you do them? Do you go to them?