by Bob Sherman
When you do a book signing and invite all your friends, you’re lucky if they both show up. Maybe there’s safety in numbers. Several years ago I attended Delray Beach Library Author’s Showcase. Twelve authors presented their books after which the authors displayed and sold copies of their books. There were over 100 guests in the audience. The Delray Showcase is in its 13th year. Numerous authors submit their books, but only 12 are selected. I submitted my book, More Bull, for this year’s showcase on January 8th. Unfortunately, I was not selected.
Last year I decided to do my own showcase at the Hallandale Library. As the organizer there was no doubt my book would be selected. I invited all my fellow authors to participate and 10 signed up. Each author was allowed 5 minutes to present their book. Acting as Master of Ceremonies, I introduced the authors based on bios which they supplied. I appointed a friend as timekeeper. One of the authors never looked up; so the timekeeper had to clear her throat several times to get the speakers attention. This procedure must be fine-tuned for the next showcase. Maybe I’ll give the timekeeper a big hook or some ripe fruit. Afterwards we each had our own table to sell our books. We also served some refreshments, which was an overkill. Next time it will just be cookies or candy on the table.
The Hallandale Library printed some fancy brochures. However, I received them one week before the event; so there was not enough time to distribute them. I also contacted newspapers and radio stations. This must be followed up to be effective. We only had 40-50 guests. The Hallandale librarian considered the event a big success based on other events held there.
The 2nd Annual Authors Showcase is planned for April 14, 2012 at the Southwest Regional Library, Pembroke Pines. This venue is likely to draw more of a crowd. Other venues were considered. However, having a location that is free is very important for “starving writers.”
We have 12 authors signed up for April. I chose to limit the number at 12, to keep the speaking presentations to about an hour. I created a brochure which each author will reproduce and distribute. I have already started advertising by listing the event on various social networks and will contact newspapers as the date gets closer.
Because the April showcase seemed so far off, I decided to have a group book signing, in the interim, at the Hallandale Library. Originally there were only two of us. As the number of authors grew, I renamed the event a “Book Fair.” It will coincide with the first meeting of the Gulfstream Writers, a group affiliated with the Florida Writers Association, which I organized. The book signing will be January 28th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. I sent out invitations and selected 10 authors on a first come basis. When my showcases become more popular we’ll need a selection process to assure a good representation of genres. For now I’m the sole judge and jury.
I’m counting on all the authors to do some promotion. The event is listed on www.americantowns.com as is the Showcase in April. I have sent notices to several newspapers. A notice has already appeared in a local weekly paper. The first time the event appeared on the Community Calendar, the date was incorrect. This illustrates why it’s important to follow up to verify the notice is published and is correct.
For an event like this to be successful good advertising is the key. In addition to the brochures in the Hallandale Library I’ll distribute brochures to other nearby libraries. I expect all the participating authors to tell everyone they know. I also have the support of the “Friends of the Library” who will serve refreshments. This will allow the authors to concentrate on selling books. Even with all the planning I’m doing, I’m carrying my rabbit’s foot and keeping my fingers crossed.
Bob E Sherman is a retired CPA and former controller for several boat manufacturers. He’s a Miami Hurricane born and raised on the Jersey Shore. He holds a 100 ton U.S. Coast Guard license and is a columnist for South Florida’s Waterfront Times. He’s author of two books — Am I the Only One That Signals? and More Bull. http://bobesherman.blogspot.com/