I had two book signing events in the month of March: one at Copperfield's in Healdsburg, and one at Borders in Santa Rosa.
Before I write about the signings themselves, and what I learned, I want to take a moment to thank my mom. She goes to every Raggedy Chan event with me, no matter if it's near or far. She's sat through school presentations, book fairs, book signings, trade meetings, and education conventions. Whenever I have a school presentation, she helps me practice and gives me lots of tips (she's a whiz at public speaking, a complete natural). At sales events, she goes out into the crowd with fortune cookies and book marks, finds customers, and sends them my way. She introduces herself to everyone as Raggedy Chan's grandmother. I don't know what I would do without her support, so I just want to say, Thanks, Mom!
So, of course, here is Mom at Border's, helping me set up the table. Notice her Raggedy Chan apron!
Now, onto the nitty gritty of the book signings.
I have to admit, I always shied away from book signings. I've heard so many authors share horror stories of book signings; how no one comes, how no one stops by to chat, etc., basically leaving the author to sit and share at the shelves and study their fingernails for 3 hours. (We can't all be Neil Gaiman with crowds lined up down the street!) So I've always regarded book signings with a sense of terror.
But when the article about me and Raggedy Chan appeared in Sonoma Family Life, I figured it was time to stuff my fear and give it a go. I was getting a lot of positive press surrounding the article, so it seemed silly not to take advantage of it. I made contact with 2 local bookstores and set-up the signings.
And despite all my fears, they were quite fun. I spent 7 years waiting tables, and I've always enjoyed striking up conversations with people, even total strangers. It was fun to connect with new readers and chat about everything, from books to jobs to hobbies. I had a ton of local support from friends and family and colleagues, whom I notified of the signings via Facebook and email. Turnout was good. Sales were good.
Here are a few things I learned about book signings:
- Find a way to drive traffic to your signing table. My mom really helped me out with this one. She walked made rounds through the store with Raggedy Chan bookmarks. She gave them to every customer she found, delivering a short blurb about me and my location at the front of the store. Many of these resulted in direct sales.
- Always check the local events calendar to see what going on before booking your signing. One of my signings coincided with a local event called Barrel Tasting. Thousands of people come into town to taste wine directly out of barrels. Unfortunately, these crowds 1) do not visit book stores, and 2) take up all the parking spaces potential book store customers would normally use. Foot traffic during this book signing was very light, and the friends and family who did show up had a bear of time finding parking. Locals who might have wandered down to the local bookstore stayed home.
- Smile and say hello to everyone! You never know who will stop by your table. Invite people to check out your book. Some people won't make eye contact, but that's okay; it's balanced out by those who do stop.
- Send hand-written thank you notes to the event coordinator. Thank yous go a long way.
With this info under my belt, I feel better prepared for my next book signing (which will be in less than 1 month!).
[caption id="attachment_415" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Me at the Copperfield's book singing with my friend and her daughter."][/caption]