Today we have the lovely and funny Sheryl Browne with us for a chit-chat.
Sheryl has some great tips for book signings and other scary things!
Helpful Hints for Authors
Commissioned to write one book, the results of which produced a three-book contract, I suddenly found myself “out there” in promo-land. Social media aside (we sometimes wish), I actually found myself in demand – as in my body. No, it’s not all that – trust me. And no, I haven’t been catapulted to celeb status – I’m still waiting for George Clooney’s proposal to do that (he’s a bit shy).
What happened was, the local papers had kindly covered my book launches, on the back of which I plucked up courage to approach my local library in hopes they might house some postcards/business cards and … dare I ask … even one of my books. As it turned out, the fabulously supportive Library Manager was keen to distribute my books to all libraries throughout the county and for me to give library talks/book-signings at three of those libraries. Of course, I said merrily. I’d love to! The more exposure the better. OhmyGOD!!, my wimpy inner voice cried. I don’t want to expose myself. I – can’t – do – it!
I could. And I did. But that’s a whole other story. The thing is, if you write you are an author, ergo you are qualified to talk about your journey. Simples!
The book-signings at the Library had a bit of a knock-on effect and I did one or two at local shops, too. And then… Well then realised, for the sake of my babies (books) I really ought throw modesty to the wind and expose myself a bit more. Bookshops were where I needed to be, putting myself about a bit. But did the bookshops want me?
Repeat mantra: I write therefore I am…
So, now having managed to organise a few signings – and appear at same without hyperventilating, I thought I’d share my experiences for the benefit of anyone else about to embark on the same journey.
OK, where to start?
Well, contrary to advice I’ve read on the subject of book-signings, which endorse one turning up red-faced at bookshops, one’s wares in hand, I would suggest that you telephone first. Managers are not likely to be on the shop floor. If they are, they are likely to be in liaison with staff or customers and your untimely interruption might not therefore be appreciated. So the first thing to do is to Google bookstores, starting locally initially, and then brace yourself and ring them. They will probably ask you to email them with the Author Information Sheet (AIS), etc. It might be an idea therefore to prepare a draft email and have that ready to go.
This then leads us neatly into:
Preparation & Organisation
Once you have book-signing dates in the diary, you might like to contact the local press. You can Google editorial contacts or generally find them on the inside the cover page of the paper. Newspapers like local flavour. They encourage readers to send in their stories, and your road to publication is your story. So and so pens a happy ending, that sort of thing.
Be prepared when they contact you. They might ask if they can pop round and take a photo. Eeeek! You can avoid having your ‘bad hair day’ published for the whole world to see by having a professional photo taken. Alternatively, get a proficient digitally-savvy photographer to take one at home, which you can then email to them.
Local radio is also interested in promoting local people. I contacted BBC radio Herefordshire and Worcester, hoping they might give me a mention. They invited me in for an interview!
Send out invites to friends and colleagues. If you are a member of internet book buzz sites, such as Goodreads, post up an event. Ditto for Facebook, and don’t forget to mention on Twitter.
What to take with you (as well as an extremely good friend who will act like a complete stranger and chat intelligently about books – whilst purchasing books)
- Books – these are really helpful. Seriously, don’t find yourself in the embarrassing situation of securing book-signings, only to find yourself without the all-important books! Check out what the shipping/delivery times are and order well in advance. Obviously, if you have several signings lined up, you will need to order enough to cover all of those. Also, you will want to keep a few in hand for those people who rush up to you and say, Ooh, you’re that famous author. To which you can reply, Yes. And I just happen to have a copy of my book…
Calculate how many books you need overall and order accordingly. About 10 to 15 per signing should be more than enough.
- Tablecloth. You might find the table supplied is fine. If you need it though, a white tablecloth will cover a scratchy surface and offset your books nicely.
- Bookstands – to show your books off to their best advantage. If you can’t run to those, stand your book up with a middle page curled inside it (this will stop it falling over.
- A4 perspex document stands (if your budget allows). Excellent for showing off book covers/odd snippets of reviews or blurbs. You might want to get some A3 copies of covers too, which make a nice display if you have a suitable backdrop.
You can purchase lightweight roll-up banners if you’re really keen. They’re not cheap. But then, if writing is going to be your life, possibly worth the outlay.
- Business cards (with contact info and website).
- Postcards/bookmarks – or similar – with blurb/excerpt on the back. You can hand these out to people who prevaricate and are therefore potential buyers. I found these really useful. THANK YOU MANDY BAGGOT for passing that info on.
- PENS! Good pens, with which to pen your signature with a flourish.
- Most important of all, CHOCOLATES! Or sweeties of some sort. Avoid peanuts, for obvious reasons, and make sure children are allowed sweets before offering. I found Lindt chocolates were a huge hit. Slurrrrp! Don’t forget a little bowl to put them in.
Now you have everything you need, but before you and your books are in situ, it might be an idea – before the day, preferably – to ask where you might be situated. In the non-fiction section if you write fiction is not really ideal.
Once you are organised, DON’T STAY SEATED. Once again, thanks to MANDY BAGGOT who reminded me my chair should serve as no more than a peg to hang my coat on. Circulate! If people are browsing a similar author or genre, why not offer them your book?
Lastly, don’t be tempted to rugby-tackle customers to the floor (unless you like being dragged off in handcuffs). The hard sell never works.
Sheryl is busy organising book-signings around the second in her three book contract WARRANT FOR LOVE, which launches tomorrow:
Warrant for Love
- three couples in a twisting story that resolves perfectly.
Life for Paul is like a typical country song. He comes from a broken home, his wife is divorcing him, he’s got no place to live, he’s losing custody of his son, and his sergeant, who’s sleeping with his wife, is a loud-mouthed bully who won’t let up on him – not even at work.
Before Leanne can give her cheating boyfriend what for, she’s wrongfully arrested for soliciting – by Paul. There’s an undeniable attraction though and things could be looking up for Paul, except for Leanne’s friends, who have it in for her ex. Leanne wants closure, Paul wants a home, Nicky and Jade want revenge. Blackmail, lies, adultery, entrapment. Will it work out in the end or will Paul uphold the law? Sounds like he needs a Warrant for Love.