I did another booksigning Friday night at a Barnes & Noble in Lewisville, Texas. It's getting easier. I sold as many books as I had previously in half the time.
Here's my revised list of things to do for a booksigning.
1) Get there early and learn the store. Look to see where the various genres are shelved. Pay particular attention to the bestsellers and new releases. Locate the restroom and customer service. Introduce yourself to all the staff, shake their hands and memorize their names.
2) Be sure your table is set close to the door. This Barnes & Noble had advertised and had a sign with my bookcover on it.
3) Bring your tools: I had a table model cover of my book, a large decorative bowl from Party City ($1.99), and a tablecloth from Party City ($.99). I spread my tablecloth, put my model cover on top of it, lined my books up in three stacks so they faced all directions and filled my plastic bowl with the various kinds of candy I'd purchased.
4) I asked the store for "autograph stickers" and immediately autographed ten books and placed them prominently on the table.
5) Don't bring a friend to keep you company during the booksigning. If you do, you won't focus on the customers. It's a little scary starting out, but being alone will force you to be more outgoing. A friend of mine who has been acting as my publicist has come to each signing and purchased a book each time to get me started. It is HUGELY helpful to have someone do that and then leave. It gives you a psychological boost (At least I sold one). I was enormously grateful to her.
6) Set modest goals. I gave myself a goal of one book every thirty minutes. Let's be realistic. I'm selling erotic romance. One third of everyone who came through the front door was looking for inspirational or Christian literature. It's not likely I'm going to sell to them [grin] although I talked to everyone.
7) Look for the writers. You'll spot them because they'll linger nearby to listen. Ask if they write. Offer helpful advice. I hand out business cards with my blog address on it. Writers are inclined to buy to support other writers.
The most important thing, I think, is to OWN THE STORE. I treated the place as though it were Wal-Mart and I was the greeter. I spent as much time as I could on my feet--which got harder and harder the further I got from my 5:00 AM wake-up time. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. I stood beside my table and welcomed everyone who came through the door. I asked if I could help them. If they had a child, I asked if the child could have a piece of candy. When kids are confronted with a variety of candy, they hesitate, wanting to make the best decision. It gives you a chance to chat with the parents. Yes, I admit it. I am completely without shame, but let's face it. You knew that already.
I did not use hard pressure tactics. If they didn't ask about the book, I didn't push. But I was so freaking friendly, almost everyone asked. A common occurrence was that I would point out the direction they needed, they'd head there and then on their way to the cash register, I'd say, "Oh, good, you found it." At that point, it would have been churlish not to slow down to thank me. Almost everyone did.
Like everything, it takes time to get into the groove. You warm up to the job. I got better the longer I stayed.
I'm also turned on by meeting neat people. I met a woman who wants to be a writer whom I liked a great deal and a man who bought my book to read on a plane and then had his wife take it from him, saying she'd read it first.
When anyone asked about the book, I immediately handed them a copy. It's hard to put the book down and just walk away from someone being nice to you. If they said they didn't read erotic romance, I said, "Oh, you haven't heard how popular this genre is?" Everyone wants to show how knowledgeable they are so they say, "Oh, yeah, my friend/wife/neighbor loves those sexy books." I'd say, "An autographed book makes a great gift." That worked three times.
I sold quite a few books to men. When they'd wince at the mention of romance, I'd say, "Forty percent of my sales are to guys." They were always so surprised they'd keep talking, and a lot bought. My percentage of sales to men went up from 40% to 50% Friday night.
The assistant manager came over to me about two hours into the signing and said, "You've had a lot of traffic." He was delighted because I'd almost doubled my goal of two books an hour. He told me he hadn't expected me to sell as many as many books as I did.
I left the plastic bowl with all the candy and "Bad Girl" stickers in it for the staff. They were thrilled, and the small gesture cost less than $6.
Re signing the stock. Each time before I leave a signing, I sign ten books. Then I tell the manager how many I've signed. I leave it to them to ask me to sign the rest. It just seems more courteous to me than signing twenty or thirty copies.
8) Give yourself a reward to look forward to. I took a five-minute break every hour or so to walk around and look at books. I'd promised myself a new book when I was through for the night. I purchased Microtrends, the new book by forecaster Mark Penn. It's a non-fiction about the seventy or so small trends that will impact our lives in the future.
Hope this helps someone else facing a booksigning. And I'm open to any suggestions anyone may offer to improve my list.