Book Signings? More of a (Flattering) Time-Waster Than a Money-Maker!

Book Signings? More of a (Flattering) Time-Waster Than a Money-Maker!

Hello Angela,

My friend (who is a marketing major) and I are trying to organize a book signing. We are considering various things to make more sales. However, to do that, she said Barnes and Noble told us that the book has to be sold in that store in order for them to host my signing.

But, they aren’t currently stocking my book, and they haven’t ordered it and may never, so what can I do?


Hopeful Author

Dear Hopeful,

If Barnes and Noble is asking for terms your publisher can’t accept (for example, returning unsold books, or demanding an unrealistic discount), you can buy copies at your author discount (assuming your publisher offers you one), and offer to sell them directly to the store on consignment.

Some authors have book signings because, let’s face it, it’s flattering to have people ask for your autograph. Unfortunately, most book signings lead to an author sitting alone, watching people pass by, their eyes purposely averted to avoid a sales pitch. So, book signings can be equally flattering…and embarrassing as well.

If you’re scheduling a book signing to make money, I would strongly suggest you research that before spending significant time and money promoting an event that may only sell 5 to 10 copies, if you’re lucky.

The sad fact is, unless you’re a celebrity, or unless you’ve somehow managed to bring dozens or hundreds of people into their store just to buy your book, you aren’t likely to sell enough copies to pay for your expenses and time.

Many bookstores expect authors to do most, if not all, of the promotion for their own signing. So, don’t expect your local bookstore to run ads in the newspaper to alert people of your upcoming event, or to much of anything else. Expect to pay the bookstore a large percentage of each book sale, and expect them to return the unsold copies, all in exchange for YOU bringing people to their store…people who will likely browse, and buy other authors’ books, and for which you will receive zero compensation.

A far more efficient (and less stressful) way to sell books is reaching out to your readers directly online and there are many free and FUN ways to do that!

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