Book Signings: Are they Worth It?

One popular book marketing strategy is the book signing. We’ve all seen them: the author sits in a book store (or other public place) with a pile of books, ready to sign them for anyone who wants to buy them. Some people think they are a great way to sell books, others think they are a waste of time.

I’ve heard all kinds of statistics, such as the average book signing results in four books sold, and that Al Gore once broke a book store’s record by selling 400 copies of his book. Unless you have some reason to believe you’ll attract hordes of eager buyers, then before deciding to do a book signing, think about spending three or so hours of your time to sell four books.

Keep in mind that book signings sometimes generate sales after the event. People may have seen the promotional material and weren’t able to attend the signing, but come in later to buy the book.
Here are some ways to increase your sales:

1. Work with the book store to do some publicity before your signing. Make sure they at least display a poster prominently, announcing your appearance, with the date and time.

2. Bring a friend. If you get a long line, your friend can hand books to you, open to the title page to speed things along. Otherwise, from time to time your friend can pretend to be an interested customer, asking you questions about the book. This may cause other shoppers to pause and listen, and become engaged.

3. If the book store is located in a mall, see if you can have your friend stand by the store entrance handing out flyers or bookmarks.

4. Do the book signing after giving a talk. This way you’ll be able to give your audience more of a taste for what your book can do for them, whether it’s sheer entertainment or some specialized knowledge.

5. Ask the store owner or manager if they know of other stores which might be interested in hosting a book signing.

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