by Amy Collins
One of the best ways for an author to get their message out to their community and region is to do author signings. Booking a signing does take a bit of finesse. To start, know that bookstores need 90 days advance notice to properly book and promote a signing. Do yourself a favor and do not call your local bookstore asking to do a signing in three weeks. They have calendars and newsletters printed each month, and you need to respect their deadlines.
Next, most bookstores will not be able to book you for an event unless your books are available to order unless you have a distributor that provides a bookstore return policy, which Infinity Publishing does. The book must show up in the bookstore’s computer as available for order and returnable or you will have trouble getting a booking. So, don’t call to ask to do an event until you know that your books are available to order from a wholesaler or you are prepared to bring the books yourself and sell on consignment.
Finally, to better increase your chance of selling books, don’t just do a signing; plan an event. Sitting at a table for two hours can be a tad disheartening. Draw a crowd by reading, speaking, or giving a workshop. Invite everyone you know. Get listed in all your local community calendars. Reach out and advertise your event.
You might also want to plan a launch party on the publication month at a local store. Most bookstores would be thrilled to host an event for a local author because they often invite a large group of friends and family to attend. For a launch party to be successful, you need to send out invitations three weeks in advance, plan the evening around a reading or talk, and make sure you have someone there to take pictures!
Good pictures of happy people milling around a signing are an invaluable tool for your next event booking. Store managers want to know that you can draw an audience, work a room and, in general, make your event “worth their time.” Make sure you have a few pictures as proof that your events are fun, crowded, and profitable.
Amy Collins MacGregor started her career in the book industry as the book buyer for Village Green Books in Upstate, New York. In 1996, she “hopped the desk” and thoroughly enjoyed working as a National Account Rep for Prima Publishing. In 2001, Amy was named Director of Sales at Adams Media in Boston and quickly rose to the Special Sales Director for parent company, F+W Media. Over the years, Amy has sold to Borders, Barnes and Noble, Target, Costco, Wal-mart, and all the major chains as well as help launch several private label publishing programs for chains such as PetSmart and CVS. In February 2006, Amy started The Cadence Group and now runs the fastest-growing book distribution company in North America, New Shelves Distribution, where she offers her sales experience to small publishers and self-published authors.