Having just completed another very successful “book signing” in a large venue setting, I would like to offer some pointers for authors that have had limited or no success in selling their books at the various library or local artist sponsored book signing events.
First of all, stay away from those unless you just thrive on rejection, as they hardly ever produce enough sales to pay for the fuel to haul your brain child to them. What you need first of all is to determine what niche your book falls into, and then find a related venue that will have several hundred to several thousand people with discretionary income passing by your table each day of the show.
As an example, I write under the pseudonym W.W. Brock (as if W.W. Brock doesn’t sound enough like a “nom de plume”!), and my genre is what I refer to as “factual fiction.” Since my books are wildlife thrillers coupled with government conspiracies, the obvious venues for me are gun shows, boat shows, fishing shows, etc. It is very important to identify what type of person is going to want to read your book as this will help to determine what venue will put the most traffic past your table or booth per day.
Once you’ve selected the appropriate venue for the book signing, which is really a “book selling” in disguise, you have to make certain that your table or booth will attract the eye of the show visitors. The table should be covered with something of a neutral color so that the people that come by will focus on the merchandise sitting on it. I like to have at least two (2) 18″ x 24″ posters that I had made of my book covers sitting on each end of the display space. Mine were printed by Vistaprint for $24.00. You will need a 300dpi image of your cover to do this but, if you have had your book published by BookLocker.com, Inc., the will gladly provide you with your production files (many POD publishers will not do that).
Have a professional business card sitting in front of your books. This is not the time to scrimp, and have something you have ordered over the Internet, or printed yourself, screaming to people, “I AM A RANK AMATEUR!” You may well be but you don’t need to advertise it. You can get linen stock cards printed for under $60.00 that you wouldn’t be ashamed to put on one of those little silver plates that the butler always presents for the guest’s cards in the old movies. Keep the card simple with just your name, website, and email address. Your website should have the necessary links for ordering your e-book, so it is important not to clutter up the card with them. Including your book titles and very brief blurbs on the back of the card is good, too, provided you have room.
Make certain that your book is professional in appearance. This entails the formatting, editing, and cover design, all of which blend together to make a statement to the potential reader. The cover is what will draw the customer to your booth. How professional does it look? Does it imply the contents of your book in a tasteful manner? Booklocker.com, Inc. offers exceptional cover design services at a very reasonable cost ($200 when purchased separately, but the cost is included in their most popular package, which is $675 total) for this important detail.
Dress for the occasion. I can’t stress how important it is to look sharp when you are talking to people that are interested in your book. After all, you are the resident expert on the topic that you’ve covered and experts should look sharp. This is one of the first rules that you learn in any sales training seminar: “Dress one step above your potential customer.” In my case, it is fairly easy since I just show up in my Wranglers and a long sleeved, Western cut shirt with my leather boots and a knife on my belt. The only real choice that I have to make is whether to wear my Mexican palm Resistol hat or an old felt beater that I’ve had for over 40 years. On the other hand, if you are working the opening of a new art gallery and selling something like “The Rembrandt Murders,” you probably will want to be a bit more formal.
Since we are talking about sales here, this is the most important exercise that you can do if you want to succeed in your sales endeavors, or anything else for that matter. Stick out your right hand when you say “Hello” and smile. It is the most important tool in the arsenal, and using it will greatly improve your chances of making a sale. In fact, I sold out of my books at a gun show just last month!
I also suggest being animated and proactive with the passing crowd. Talk to them even if they are not looking directly at you. This past weekend, I watched a mother with her 12-year-old daughter briefly glance at my display. Even though she looked the other way so as to appear disinterested, I said in my best baritone voice, just loud enough to be heard above the dull roar of the crowd, “You know you want to read it!” When she turned around, and saw the smile on my face, she came back to the table, and bought a copy of each book.
Finally, have fun with the crowd. If you are smiling and talking to the people that pass your booth or table, you will make new friends, acquire new readers, and build lasting relationships that will follow you from book to book as you progress on your literary journey.
W. W. Brock has been hunting and fishing the wilderness areas of the United States for over fifty years. A United States Navy Veteran of the Viet Nam era, and an avid outdoorsman, he has run charter and commercial fishing vessels off of the coast of South Carolina, and worked oil field crew boats in the Gulf of Mexico. Retired and living in Odessa, Texas, W. W. is working as a gunsmith while gathering material for his next project.