You published a book, yay! Now what? Of course, the next step should be to put together a book signing. Book signings are different from book release parties, which are usually less formal. A book signing is imperative to getting your name out there into the public eye.
Write a Press Release
When I first published my short story “Dad’s Tomatoes” for Chicken Soup for the Soul, the first thing I did was to put together a press release. Because Chicken Soup is a multi-million dollar business, they also had a press manager contact me to sort of show me the ropes. For now, if you don’t have your own publicist, I recommend using a press release template you find online and sending a well-written press release to your local newspaper. Sometimes, they will send someone to cover your signing for the paper. That happened to me and I was so thrilled I framed it. I know that might be a bit egotistical, but really, when can I count on that happening again?
Approach a Bookstore
Of course, everyone wants to have a book signing at a big bookstore, but sometimes that’s difficult to negotiate, especially if your book is self-published. However, the good news is that if you can get a smaller bookstore on board, it’s easier to approach the better-known stores. I approached the bookstore on campus where I was a student and they were very receptive to hosting for me. Since they were technically a branch of Barnes and Noble, using them for the signing seemed completely legit. They ordered the books for me and even made a poster and put out the word on the campus website for me. I didn’t have to do too much.
Invite Your Family & Friends
Make sure you stack the deck. Invite all of your friends and family to come. Create an event on Facebook and invite every single person you can think of. As an English teacher, I can tell you that we LOVE to hear of our student’s publishing endeavors. We will tell everyone, partially because we like to think your success is partially due to our stellar teaching.
Publicize with Social Media
Use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, any kind of social media you want. Use them all! And listen; don’t be so shy that you rule out anyone, even if you think they won’t be interested. Some people are just super excited that someone they know published and are surprisingly supportive of even mere acquaintances. It’s crazy! People whom I wasn’t even really close to at my old job lined up just to see me. People like to support writers they know, if they are only given a chance.
Contact Your News Station
Next, I contacted my local news station. I know-this was a bit cheeky of me. But really, what did I have to lose? If they said no, so what? Guess what? They said yes. They hosted me on their live morning show and plugged my book FOR NOTHING. They even gave my signing an extra plug on their website. It was awesome.
The Day of the Book Signing….
The day of the signing, arrive early. Look like a million bucks. Get your nails and hair done if you can. The bookstore will most likely have a table set up for you at the front of the store. If it’s not, ask for it. Being friendly and gracious goes a long way to charming people into helping you. Do not, I repeat do not suddenly turn into some kind of diva at the last minute, demanding green M&Ms or some other nonsense. Hopefully, you will be hosting many book signings in the future and it helps to be nice to everyone.
Have some candy and swag available. By “swag” I mean bookmarks, pencils, coffee mugs, etc. illustrating your book cover/logo. Most of the time it’s on you to pay for these, but they aren’t that expensive and they are cheap advertising. On my bookmark I not only have a gorgeous picture of my cover, but I also have a link to my blog and Amazon where they can order the book. This way, if they don’t have the cash now, they might later. It’s also fun if you plan ahead and hold a drawing for a free book/swag. For this you would need something a bit nicer than a book mark. Maybe a coffee mug or t-shirt.
Be sure to take pictures with anyone who remotely looks interested. Post them on your social media. If nobody asks, take some with friends.
Offer to do a reading/book talk. People love to hear how a story captured you, how long it took to write it, is any of it true, etc. Aspiring authors want to be you. It’s quite heady sometimes.
A word of caution: don’t hole up and wait for the adoring masses to approach. Greet everyone. Be cheerful and charismatic. If this is not your normal personality, too bad. FAKE IT. Unless you are Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer, you can’t really get away with being off-putting or grumpy. Remember, people buy books from new writers either because of buzz or because they feel as if they know the person. So be someone they want to know.
Congratulations on your new book! Now get out there and let people see it!
About the author:
Tina Bausinger, M.A. in English, lives in East Texas, the land of Old Yeller, with her husband Lee, three children, a well-fed Chihuahua, a German Shepherd with anxiety issues, and an angry angelfish, Sid, who has dreams of world (or at least tank) domination. Tina has published many articles and book reviews and currently writes for IN Magazine, The Tyler Paper, her blog about her adventures in raising a family, teaching and trying to not die from dieting at www.tinabausinger.com, as well as hundreds of quizzes and tests for her lucky composition and world literature students she teaches as a professor. Last fall she published her first novel, War Eagle Women, a Southern gothic style story in the same vein as Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes.
Also by Tina Bausinger:
1. Is it Soup Yet? How to Perfect Your Story Recipe for Chicken Soup for the Soul (article)
2. Writing Opportunities for College Students (article)