Libraries and bookstores are so last year when it comes to staging book signings. Instead, consider taking your books out into the wider world. It’s full of your would-be readers.
Farmers encourage beekeepers to set their hives on farmland because it’s mutually beneficial. Bees get nectar for honey, benefiting themselves and their keeper. In return for this bounty, the bees pollinate the farmers’ crops.
Likewise, taking your books to a particular setting can attract customers to you, and also benefit your host. Match the location to your subject matter. The more off-the-wall your choice of venue, the greater your chance of attracting media attention. Get that press release out in good time.
If your book is an academic work or is likely to appeal to students, pay a visit to your old school or college. Teachers may want to lay claim to a role in your success story. Be prepared to indulge the ones who said you’d never amount to much. You can do all the gloating you want afterwards.
Perhaps your subject has to do with animal husbandry. Take a stall at a farmers’ market. Or, if you write on such topics as beekeeping or gardening, seek permission to set up a table at a garden center.
My first ever book was a business manual on beekeeping. I was naive about business in those days so it didn’t sell well. With hindsight, I would have launched it at the location of the equipment supplier who had been so helpful in my research.
If you write on housekeeping or consumer topics, set up a table in the lobby of a supermarket, having first made a friend of the manager. It may be that you can promote a product or offer freebies from his stock to those who buy your work.
Possibly, your book will appeal to members of a particular group or organization. Offer to give a talk and have plenty of copies of your book on hand. Sports clubs (the 19th hole at a golf course is good), women’s social groups, and groups centered on arts and crafts are all possibilities, if you can make the connection with your subject.
Gatecrash someone else’s event ñ with permission, of course! A happily-ever-after love story or collection of romantic verse could sit well at a wedding fair, for example. Perhaps you could share a stall with someone who sells wedding stationery.
A historian in my own small town wrote a history of the local railway station. He then staged a book signing at the station itself during an event held for a National Heritage Day.
Perhaps your book is a biography, or makes significant mention of a particular character, living or dead. Find a place he used to live, work or visit, and get your pen ready to sign.
I once knew a small publisher who produced an anthology of articles on a major national poet. He launched the book at an event held in a large country house. It’s now a guest house, but in its heyday it was frequented by the poet himself. The new owners didn’t know of the famous connection and were so intrigued they offered special rates for the hire of the premises.
It may be that you are already high profile, in which case your own regular haunts could attract readers to a book-signing.
When he retired, the editor of a regional newspaper wrote a history of the town where it’s based. He then signed copies of his book at his former office. Similarly, a well-known poet of my acquaintance is about to launch his latest collection at an arts and heritage center where he sometimes runs workshops.
Don’t expect people just to stand in line at the bookstore. Be resourceful. Decide who your potential readers are and where they’re likely to hang out. Then, go get them.
Mary Cook is a UK-based writer and editor whose articles, short stories and poems have appeared in numerous publications. She was for a number of years a reporter for the Skegness Standard, the main regional newspaper in her area while simultaneously acting as overseas correspondent for the Tokyo-based Hiragana Times. She has also worked as a columnist for the online newsletters Food Writer and Inkspotter News.