As Independent authors, promoting your books can be tiresome, especially when you don’t have the big publishing industry machine at your back. It’s time consuming work and there are times when it becomes discouraging to the point where you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Between writing, blogging, promoting on social media, sending your books out to legitimate book reviewers (because we all know that paying for phony, one sentence long, five star reviews on Amazon is just plain wrong) and everything else involved in self-promotion is a job in itself and can be downright draining. It doesn’t have to be such a tedious effort all the time. When you’re willing to back away from the computer (or tablets/phones), it would be beneficial for you to set up some book signing events to promote you and your work in a public setting. It can be at your local library (recommended), at your neighborhood independent bookstore (also recommended), a local arts & crafts fair—this is good if you have a book set in or near the town the fair is held, regional author expos (they are getting more and more popular) and Comic Cons or Horror/Sci-Fi Expos (good if your book falls in these genres.)
Why is it a good idea to attend these events? Well, obviously, you’d like an opportunity to sell more books, but your reasons should extend beyond potential sales boosts. These events are more about networking and meeting people that you’d otherwise never have a chance to have the pleasure. Oftentimes, as writers, we fall into a cozy little bubble and it’s difficult at times to pull ourselves away from “our world” and willingly venture out into the “real world.” We get so engrossed with our work and are enticed by the safe simplicities of promoting ourselves from our computer desk. But this behavior becomes counterproductive and can be downright unhealthy. By placing yourself in an on-site marketing situation, you expand your marketing potential and strengthen your selling abilities to people who might never have discovered you otherwise.
In my latest book, Book Signing 101: An Author’s Guide, I breakdown the different factors and specifics about the above mentioned events as well as the various costs involved. I will give you a general idea of what to expect at the different venues.
- Local Libraries: The Pros? You don’t have to travel far to get there. Everything will be set up for you (except for your own additions) and your event will be relatively stress-free. Whether it’s a group author event or a solo signing, it won’t cost you money to be there because public libraries have to host these sort of events at no charge. The Cons? Attendance could be hit or miss. Library events usually have a steady trickle of people, but depending on the town, the weather, or any other number of factors, the trickle could be small.
- Arts & Craft Fairs: The Pros? It’s relatively inexpensive to rent table space so it won’t cut into your budget too deeply. Depending on the population of the town and how well the event has been promoted, there could potentially be hundreds of attendees. These are all possible book buyers and potential new fans. The Cons? You will be competing with other crafters selling handmade jewelry, bird houses, candles, fragrances, handbags, clothing, more handmade jewelry and EVEN MORE handmade jewelry. You’ll really need to be on your A-game to attract new buyers and convince them that they’ll want to read your book.
- Local Author Expos: The Pros? These too are relatively inexpensive, but they range slightly higher than arts and crafts fairs. These are terrific networking events where you are in a setting with like-minded individuals who share the same passion as you; writing. There could be upwards of 50-100 authors at these events and the more authors you meet and befriend, the better your networking circle becomes. The Cons? You have 50-100 authors all competing for the attention of the same people who walk through the doors. Because of this too, many people aren’t willing to walk into events where 50-100 sets of eyes are on them trying to guilt them into spending money.
- Comic Cons (Horror/Sci-Fi Cons): The Pros? They are fun, lively and there is hardly a dull moment throughout the entirety of the event. You get to meet a variety of personalities and there are usually celebrities at the events (my table was once set up accross from Ace Frehley of KISS, I got to hang out with 80s rocker, Lita Ford, Kim Coats from Sons of Anarchy and Joey Lauren Adams of Chasing Amy to name a few.) The Cons? It’s very expensive to rent table space at these events, they run 2-3 days on weekends and you must be behind your table at all times—the events run between 6-8 hours, so it’s a true endurance test, mentally and physical to say the least. Read my Blog Posting on the financial breakdown involved in signing at these events.
Yes, there are some downsides listed above but I’m nothing but honest about what’s involved when it comes to book signing and marketing. Forewarned is forearmed. You yourself will know the genre and topic of your book and you’ll know best which avenue to take. Once you commit yourself to getting out there to promote your work, meeting new and interesting people and growing your potential fanbase, your future opportunities will open up and take you to the next level in book marketing. It’s all there for you, you just need to go after it.
Want to learn more and become a Book Signing Pro? Download Book Signing 101: An Author’s Guide available on Kindle.