MY FIRST BOOK SIGNING
As a newly published author, a book signing was among the key tactics within my marketing plan. But sitting at a table in a bookstore desparately waiting for customers to come by, feeling like a peddler selling my independent novel MASKS OF MORALITY did not sound fun. It sounded downright intimidating.
To my relief, a good friend offered to throw a house party for me before I even attempted pitching my book to complete strangers at any dusty bookshop. It turned out to be a very relaxed, spontaneous occasion. Any script I thought I might have went out the window, as I decided to simply be—myself. It worked!
As I glanced around my friend’s home, I realized it was a a joyous union with many friends and family, not some repetitive marketing chore. I was not here to peddle my book, but to celebrate the joyous occasion of writing it.
Usually, nobody knows who you are at a book signing. It was comforting seeing so many familiar faces within my audience in my friend’s cozy living room. I let every moment just be, feeling the laidback pulse of the people present.
As it turned out, I happened to sell more books than the average sold at many Barnes and Noble book signings. And, more importantly I had fun! Rather than sit at a lonely table waiting for, or even expecting people to buy my book, I walked around the party talking to them. If they were interested they would say so, and ask me to sign. And many did!
This is not to say I didn’t prepare for my book signing. I painstakingly searched for and bought the perfect pen, thought and rethought what sections to read to attendees, decorated a little table with candy and promo items, and even had a cake with an edible bookcover design. I had my nails done to match my book cover, and my hair cut and highlighted the day of the signing.
I also ordered at least fifteen copies of my book to sell at the party, showcasing copies on a fancy shelf with masks.
It dawned on me much of what was emphasized while training to be a Writer Coach for kids helped me with my book signing. We were taught to Engage, Encourage, Inspire, rather than shove words down student’s throats. Don’t tell them what to write, let their voices shine on paper. Similar to the book signing celebration in my honor, I was not interested in preaching why anyone should buy my words. I was full of grattitude for people being there.
What I learned from my first book signing, I hope to take with me to any formal signings at bookstores. Mainly:
• Have fun engaging with readers, rather than be overly concerned with book sales.
• Prepare, but be flexible. To read or not to read? What do the readers want?
• Use social media to let people know where you’ll be—including different channels depending on target market. Get those familiar faces in front of you, and let the light inside you shine.
• Thank the organizers and all who attend. Then thank them again.
As writers, we have a love affair with words. I tried to let this love affair formulate what I said to my audience, spontaneiously. “Use your Words,” was a phrase I applied to my kid while teaching him to speak. The phrase works for me now as a published author, as I smashed through procrastination and fear and got my voice on paper.
And this is what a book signing means to me now. Not about selling my books, so much as letting people know who I am. A mother with a voice. I want the people at a bookstore to feel like they are sitting in my cozy living room, and to speak to them with humor and passion. Not like a pushy sales person cramming my book down their throats.