by Sherrie Wilkolaski
Launching a new book is exciting and it is the ideal time to do book signings. Authors can do a book signing at just about any time and probably for the life their book, as long as it makes sense. Here is a quick checklist of items to get you prepared for book signing.
Preparing for the book signing.
1. Create your target list of book stores or event locations. Make a list of about dozen places that you would be willing to do an event to promote your book. Bookstores are always top of mind, but think outside of the box. If you wrote a cookbook, contact a local kitchen gourmet foods or professional cookware store. Find a connection to your book and an event location that will make it fun for attendees and position you for some potential media attention.
2. Be ready with your press kit. If you don’t already have a press kit put together, you’ll want to have this pulled together and ready to go BEFORE you start calling event locations. A standard book press kit or media kit includes:
- Book summary page. This should include the book title, author name, publisher, book cover image, page count, ISBN, retail price and listing of where the book is available for purchase. You want to do this for all formats (i.e. paperback, hardcover, eBook, audio, etc.) This includes links back to your online storefront and images or links to all distribution outlets.
- About the author page. Include author bio and photo.
- Endorsements. On this page you want list book reviews and testimonials.
- Media Page. If you have received any media cover, list this on one page and link to any online coverage (i.e. newspaper story, blog article, TV or radio interview, etc.) If you don’t have any media coverage yet, then leave this page out.
- Q & A page. Create a standard list of questions and put this into one page, listing both the questions and answers. You want questions that stir interest in your book, something a potential reporter may want to ask during an interview.
- Press release. Use one page to include a copy of your press lease that was used for the launch of the book, or include a release from your most recent event. Do not include the release for a future event…like your book signing event.
- Contacts page. You should include your contact information on every page, but then also include a contacts page as your last page, giving all options for anyone who wants to get in touch with you, your publisher, book publicist or anyone else you have working on your marketing team.
3. Contact the locations on your hit list. If you’re going after bookstores, you’ll want to call them to find out who handles in-store events. Depending on the size of the store, it may be the store manager or the community events manager. They will tell you what they require from you for the event (i.e. total number of books, marketing materials, etc.) If you’re getting more creative and targeting an event location like a museum or gift shop, call and ask who handles their on-site events and promotions. When they ask you for your press kit, you’ll be ready to email it off to them. Don’t forget to ask what you’ll need to bring to the event, like table, chairs, etc.
4. Add events to your website. Once you have you have confirmed your event dates, add them to your website.
5. Marketing your event. Start marketing your event as far in advance as you can and you’ll want to do more as you get closer to each event. Send out your press releases 2-3 weeks before your event. Ask the book store manager what they will be doing to help promote the event. Will they give you a mention in their newsletter, or on their blog, in the store or will they provide any printed materials to their customers to announce the event? You want to take the lead and do as much promotion as you can to get people to your signing.
6. Media follow-up. Touch base with the local media contacts the day before your event to remind them of the media opportunity. Who wouldn’t want to talk with a local author?
The day of the book signing.
1. Arrive at your event early to get set-up. Have your books and materials ready the night before, so you don’t have to rush. Make sure you have everything you need. Include extra pens, books and marketing materials. Be sure to have business cards, bookmarks, postcards and posters to promote the event. Do you have enough signage? Get extra signs to drive traffic to the event if you’re at a location that may be hard to find.
2. Dress professionally. Dress one step above what your crowd will be wearing. If your crowd will be wearing jackets and khaki’s, you should wear a suit and tie.
3. Bring support. It’s difficult to run an event on your own, so bring a friend, your publicist or someone who can help keep things organized and answer basic questions about the book and direct them to where they can buy the book. Don’t forget to have them take lots of pictures so you can post them to your blog and website.
4. Pens, pens and more pens. Make sure you have a nice pen to sign your books with and bring some extra’s just in case it runs out of ink or goes missing.
5. Bring a giveaway item. Bring something fun to giveaway as a door prize, to keep people hanging around. Get creative, maybe you could give away lunch with the author.
6. Have fun! This is your time to shine, enjoy it.
Post event follow-up.
1.Thank you notes. Get old-fashioned and sent out a hand-written thank you note to the book store manager and staff, and anyone else who helped with making your event a success.
2. Event analysis. Do a review of your event and see what went well and what you could improve on, to make your next book signing event an even bigger success.
3. Blog post and newsletter announcement. Do a recap of your event on your blog or in your newsletter. Post event photos and thank the fans that showed up, and let those who couldn’t make it…know what they missed.
Sherrie Wilkolaski is a public relations and marketing expert for independent authors and traditional publishers. Her unique balance of real-world experience as a best-selling author and her insider knowledge into the mechanics of the publishing process has allowed her to help thousands of authors successfully translate their creations into published works of art. Her boutique publishing house style draws authors to her—it’s the measurable results in book sales that keep them loyal. A former Director of Publishing Services at Lulu and guest of the radio show, “The Publishing Insiders.” Currently, she is a columnist for the Raleigh Examiner and frequent featured blogger on Shewrites.com. She is a consultant and publishing services broker for a variety of small to mid-sized publishers, including Infinity Publishing. Her radio program PubSmart will debut in early 2013. She is the author of best-selling book, “How to Start a Wedding Planning Business” and the “Cookies and Cocktails” series. She has several books coming out in 2013. www.authorpublishingservices.com
*Photo Courtesy of Brendan Gogarty.