A friend recently created the opportunity for me to do a signing, without me even knowing. It was National Neighborhood Toy Store day on Saturday and friend mentioned me and my book to the store owner. My friend then told me to call the store owner and set up the details. Talk about an opportunity dropped in my lap! I had about a day to prepare and there are a number or things that I should have done if I had more time.
Here’s a list of 10 things you should do if you’re self-published and looking to do a signing.
1. Create the opportunity. As I mentioned a friend of mine started the ball rolling. But after calling the first toy store, I contacted another by stopping in and asking if I could also do a signing at her store. She said yes, so I had two signings set up for the same day, morning and afternoon.
2. Promote the event. Use your Facebook account, twitter, your own email list of friends and organizations, organizations that your friends are a part of. Get the word out however you can. Don’t forget the Who, What, When, Where in your invite. Give people enough detail that they won’t have to do any extra work, except show up at your event. I only had 24 hours, but I know if I had had more time, I could have had an even better turnout.
3. Make business cards/bookmarks and a poster. I sent my files online to my local Staples, where they have great customer service. They fixed my images when the edges were cut off, and they got it all done within 5 hours, so everything was ready to pick up prior to the event. Business cards, $23 for 200, 1 medium poster $21.
4. Purchase signing pens. I bought some pens that I thought would write well, roller ball, black, medium point. They worked great but the darn caps kept falling off. Bad design but they worked. I just have to remember to keep the cap on the table or it’ll launch itself off the pen and at my future reader. Nice pens aren’t cheap. I bought three different styles, about $30.
5. Buy a frame for the poster. My poster was 18″ by 24″. Standard medium poster size. I had a 50% coupon at Michael’s and they regularly have sales on frames, so I got a great deal for $10.
6. Buy an easel for the poster. Staples had a Quartet Instant Easel which folds up like tent poles and has it’s own tote bag, for about $25. This worked great and was easy to pack up and carry.
7. Optional: Acrylic business card holder and book holder (it’s actually a flier holder but it worked great for the books). Both of these I’d consider optional but they really made the layout look professional and didn’t cost much. About $8 for both.
8. Bring a granola bar, and bottled water. You’ll get hungry. For some reason I forgot to eat lunch. It’s easy to do when you’re prepping. And you’ll need water to keep up with all the talking you should be doing. “Hi, do you like books? Do you know anyone who would like an adventure story about gangsters and car chases that’s 10 or older? Here’s my card. Who can I make the dedication out to?”
9. Show up early and talk with the shop owner about where they’re going to put you, how they will handle sales, and what your profit split will be. I’ve found that a 40/60 split on the retail cost of the book is about average. The store owners handled the sales (they scanned my book’s barcode and added it to their system for the day, before I started the signings) then at the end of the day I told them how many I sold, or if they wanted to verify, they would look it up in their system and then write me a check for the 60%.
10. Bring your smile and a good attitude. People don’t like to get sold to, but they do like conversation. I even helped one woman choose the right toy for her granddaughter.
Next time I’ll probably bring a tablecloth to lay over the tables that I used. I think it would look more professional. One store owner asked me to leave a few books that she would try to sell for me, which was awesome. I gave both store owners their own copies for free. If they read it and like it maybe they’ll pass it on to a friend. Hey, you never know. 🙂
I made all of $3 profit. But meeting future readers was a wonderful experience.