Lessons from an Author Signing Event


This is kindof a long article. But it does hit the nuts and bolts of promoting at an Author Event from A to Z all in one package.

When I set the date for my print release of the direct publication project, “Dragon Guardian” I also started networking with local independent books stores to host book release parties for the event.

Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville was set for the event for May 3rd on release day, a Saturday afternoon at 3pm  and then the upcoming City Lights Bookstore in Sylva is set for May 16th in the evening.

I thought I would share a few things that I did for the book signings and what may or may not have been successful.

Even while I was in final edits and production I started organizing the marketing materials for the book signings.

The first thing I did was design and order a pop up banner that I can use for any in person events…from book signings to guest speaker events. Pop up banners are vertical rectangle stand up banners.

My purpose was to have something that would last longer than the next book. Longevity was important. Something that would mark my brand as author.

I designed it with tools on the web available at Staples. I had them produce it. Also, I purchased a stand to hold the banner.

This is what I came up with.

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It has my name: Eden Glenn. Below that Erotic Romance Author. Then a graphic of a girls back. Below that is my tag line “Romance So Hot It Burns Off The Page”.  Across the bottom is my website in white. The colors are very bold, Yellow, Red and white. The font is very large to be visible from across the room.

I used Photoshop to design the banner and it is very important to be specific in the largest possible images and the highest resolution so that the banner is clear.

The second thing I started with was different kinds of promotional literature. I redesigned my business card, so it was current and clean. I designed a rack card for my book series from Rebel Ink Press, The Amethyst Desire Collection. I also designed one for the Dragon Guardian release.  Rack cards are rectangle cards that are sized to put in racks at various outlets. You see them a lot at tourist centers and restaurants.

I used these as beginning advertisement sitting at the book store as a teaser before I had the books in. I dropped them off a couple weeks before the event along with a eight by ten photo quality image of the cover that I laminated with the self seal lamination pockets.  This way the store had my cover on a little table top easel (wire easel purchased from the Dollar Tree) and then the info rack cards for customers to pick up. I place a bright shaped tag on the corner of the cover with the statement “Author Event” the date and time. You can see a sample of the tag on the poster below.  Of course the one I used for the 8 X 10 was much smaller than this full sized poster.

The next thing I did was work with staples to create a poster of the book cover. I used medium size and it came out really nice. Medium is 24 X 18 inches in size.

10250194_10100309096894582_698316391998768885_n You can see the poster on an Easel here in the picture.  I bought some very bright shapes from The Dollar Tree and printed very clearly Author Event May 3rd 3 to 4pm.  This poster was placed in the book store window a week before the event for everyone to see. The smaller shapes in the same package were the ones I used on the 8 X 10 photo print of the cover for early publicity.

After that I gathered some items for give away.  I used 2 X 4 adhesive labels and printed small cover images and QR codes to save space and maximize the use of the label.  Each one held two covers and two QR codes for my website.

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I purchased small notepads from the Dollar Tree.  Two pads in a package for a buck. Not bad.  They have a little magnetic snap to close them. I put a sticker of my cover on the outside of the pad. It had a nice metallic swirly pattern on the book.  On the inside I had a label with my QR code and tag line/website. http://www.EdenGlenn.com — Romance So Hot It Burns Off The Page. I was able to find a package of generic adhesive address labels also at the Dollar Tree. So I used their online template. The labels are smaller about 1″ x 2 5/8″ , just big enough for a small sound bite.

My feeling is that people like getting things that are useful.

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I purchased a few other odds and ends and made sure I put my labels on each thing. I used my QR code to direct everyone to my website. I always made sure I placed my website address with it so people could key in the address if they didn’t read QR codes.

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Hot Damn Designs created a calendar featuring some covers they’d designed. I arranged advertising to have my Dragon Guardian cover on the back of the calendar.  They are going to give these away at Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention. They were kind enough to give me a few copies. So I had a few for give away and I put one in the gift basket and had a couple others to put in the variety of prizes that I’d chosen for give away. This way the folks who purchased books would be in the drawing for the wine but I would have the other items and gift basket for give away regardless of whether the guests purchased a book or not. My plan was to make sure everyone attending went home with something that had my promotion on it and website access.

The story is a menage’ romance so I purchased a bottle of Menage’ a Trois wine and autographed the bottle. Each person that purchased a book got a ticket to be in the drawing for the bottle of wine. Our winner at the Waynesville signing was THRILLED!

The last thing I organized was a gift basket with each of the give away items, a t-shirt the rack cards etc. I organized the stuff into a dollar tree basket and covered it in the shrink wrap that you heat with the hair drier.

I also bought a 12 pack of small water’s. I used avery.com and designed a water bottle label with my tag line and website on it.  I took the generic labels off the water bottles and put my special one on with rubber cement.

A couple weeks ahead of time I started getting the event posted on all the community calendars. I created a press packet for the book store to control press releases and emailed it to my contact person at the individual stores.  In your press packet you should have: 1. jpeg of the book cover suitable for print release in the papers. 2. Bio photo with the same. 3. Blurb for the book 4. bio 5. buy links if you have them and certainly web site address.

The book store handling the press releases to local print media was helpful.  However, I arranged events on Facebook to make sure everyone that might be local could hear about the event.  I did the press release for local NPR to announce. I also contacted every local list that I’m a member of through Ya’hoo and told them about the event. My friends at church, Franklin Friends, The Alps professional women, All those social groups that I participate with.

I invited friends in person. I really promoted the event a lot.  I also received good press over it.  There were web releases at both book store websites, their FB pages, both Waynesville papers, the Sylva paper, and a guide magazine of events.

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The coverage was great and worth a lot.

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I had dropped off ten copies of the book a few days before the signing so they could process them into their system.  The organization would be the only source that guests would purchase the book, I would then sign it so we kept a clear count.

I chose some passages to read from the book. We got everything set up.  The book store handled setting up the chairs.

So on the day of the event we set up. I had a table in the back for signing. I decided what my autograph would be. I wanted to sign in red ink.  I chose clothes that would be professional. I had a helper have guests print their name; email and zip code on the back of old business cards that were outdated by my new ones. This way I had names to build my mailing list and a way to draw winners for the give away items I’d organized.

I also purchased several small festive wine glasses from Dollar Tree. I stuffed a bright piece of tissue paper into the glass and filled it with Hershey Kisses. I used these as thank you gifts for the clerks at the book store who were assigned to help me host the event and one for the book store owner. They were touched. They said no one had ever done anything like that for them before.  I thought it was a nice gesture.

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I read a few passages from the book about 20 minutes worth. I tried to give a flavor of the main protagonists, some of the humor, some of the sexual tension. I interacted with the guests in answering questions.  I also printed out eight by tens of my other upcoming covers. I was blessed that Rebel Ink Press was releasing “Shifter’s Legacy” the same day so I showed that cover and talked about the series. I showed the cover for “Emma’s New Year”. I also have a free read that is part of the “Drakins of Wyrmarach” series – “Dragon Betrayal” I leaked that cover and the cover to the upcoming “Dragon Emergence”. These covers haven’t been seen on the internet and were special teasers for the participants of the Book Release Party.

I really enjoyed this opportunity. It was a clear sunny Sat afternoon. There was a lot competing against me. I didn’t have a great turn out. However, I did sell four books. I got some fantastic advertisement. I probably spent about 40$ combined for the two events. That’s not counting the pop up banner or the posters of the covers.

I am hoping to have a better turn out at the Sylva location at City Lights Book Store because it will be on a Fri night at 6:30. We’ll have to see.

Now a few days after the event, I am mailing out a thank you card to the owner in appreciation for hosting me for the “Release Party”

 

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4 responses to “Lessons from an Author Signing Event

  1. I’m so overwhelmed now. I thought the publishing agency would do promoting like this for authors. My have preconcieved notions been a dreamy aspect of my overactive hopes? In my thoughts of promoting my series, I kept seeing my three best friends doing the promoting for me as a big surprise at a convention or bookstore. Maybe that concept could still happen if I called one of them from New York. I’m so saving this blog for future use. Loads of help. I never knew in my wildest dreams that’s how it can be for promoting a book. I’m so a noob and I’m learning. *HUGS* Thank you.

    • There are stark realities in this business. I began promoting myself as an author under the tag line brand… more than separate titles. I do have friends who are a street team and pass along messages etc. But everyday the bottom line for promotion rests with me. Social networking is about building relationships, not Buy MY BOOK. Lol.

      Im very grateful to Rebel Ink Press for the work they do in advertising my published work from them.

      So much in this industry has changed so quickly there ate a lot of unknowns. We often guess at what will work.

      After this experience I am not saying book signings sell a lot of books for a new author. However each layer adds more name recognition and credibility.

      Ive chosen carefully on choice of marketing materials. What will have longevity and shelf life. I have to feel I can use it up before it becomes outdated. Especially with the volume that makes printing economical.

      Also I’ve done very little paid advertising again asking if it really will reach my audiences. I did a banner add on TRS and the calendar project

      Hope this helps. I’d like to hear from others with ideas

    • Re-reading your post, Mythian101, it hit me that you are recently published. Congratulations. And please, just take a deep breath. All new things are overwhelming especially getting your first work out there with a publisher.

      Sure, there is a lot to learn and especially getting in sync with a publisher. They all do things slightly different.

      And while, I still hold that promoting yourself as an author is your job…secondary to writing. I say that because the best thing you can do to promote yourself is write a good book. Then write another good book, and keep writing good book.

      Now, after that one advantage to having a publisher is all the work they do formatting, line editing and uploading your book to all it’s forms. That is a huge job. Especially if they are sold at a variety of outlets. I really value my line editor at Rebel Ink Press. I’ve seen the manuscript so many times before they get it that she is fresh eyes to see things I’ve missed or points that might not make sense to a fresh reader.

      The other quality my publisher has is the whole stable of signed authors. I’ve made fast friends with other R.I.P. authors. They are a great sounding board for ideas as well. We have our own FB page to communicate with each other behind the scenes as it were. R.I.P. also sponsors a fan page on Facebook. Volume brings in more readers than I could hope to reach alone. If they like this other authors stuff then they tend to find me too. Along with that, R.I.P. has their webpage where I am one of the featured authors and each time I have a release it is promoted there. Again, reaching more readers than I would alone.

      So, my best advice. Hang in there. learn the ropes. Keep writing. It is a thrilling time in your career, savor the experience and enjoy the ride.

      Best regards
      Eden

      • I have their FB page and the fan page on my news feed on my FB page. I have their site in my favorites and I think, I’ll have to check, their Tumblr page I’m following. I’m not officially published yet, just working on the kinks of communication right now. Busy little bees over there at R.I.P. I tell ya I’ve ‘seen’ anything like it. (And I thought working retail would make me into a busy bee, HA!)

        Oh yes, I’m savoring every single moment and keeping these newly form memories in safe keeping.