Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Planning an Exceptional Book Signing, Part two

Today's post is courtesy of book marketing maven: Penny Sansevieri

You've learned how to plan a successful book event here now it's time to implement what you've learned. You've got your book signing date, and you're excited and ready to go. What's next? Well here's a handy checklist you can use to help you plan the perfect event:
Stuff To Do Before Your Book Signing

  • See if you can get a copy of the store's media list. More than likely the bookstore will send out press releases but it's important for you to do the same. Not only will you be able to target the same people twice, but the store manager will also know that you are actively involved in promoting your event.

  • Send a confirmation of your signing to the bookstore. It will make you look professional and show the store manager that you are a professional and that you take your book signings very seriously.

  • Start tapping into that media list you've been creating and begin contacting local media to promote your event.

  • Submit your information to the Events or Author Appearances section of your local newspapers or events section of your city or town website. You should plan to do this two weeks prior to the event.

  • Notify the media, generally two weeks prior is good. Though some may need smaller lead times it's never a bad idea to start early. If you're pitching radio offer to give away some copies of your book, they love doing on-air giveaways, and it will give you more radio time since they'll likely mention the giveaway several times during their broadcast. Generally all of your media contacts can be emailed, but for local TV especially I will often email them and then drop off a copy of the book to the station so they can see it - it's also a great follow up.
If you haven't already done so, get those bookmarks and postcards printed up. You can do this pretty cheaply through Don't forget to add a few review blurbs if you have them. Get the cover of your book enlarged to poster size. Then, get it laminated and mounted. I had three of them printed up. I will usually drop one or two off at the store prior to the event so they can set them out and I'll bring the third one with me that day. Prop a sign up on an easel by the front door where you will be standing and greeting people.
  • Get signs made that say: "Book Signing Today" or "Author Appearance;" both of these will help to draw crowds to your table.
Things To Bring To Your Book Signing

  • Bookmarks - I try to hand these out like crazy. Sometimes I'll even hand them out with the flyer when people enter the store. I've even autographed one or two when people hesitate to buy a book. More often than not, they return at a later time to buy a copy just because I gave them a bookmark.
  • Postcards - Bring postcards with your book cover on them. I always say you can never have too many marketing materials.
  • Chocolate - I like to fill an attractive jar with Hershey's kisses or some other small chocolate. Food attracts people and may even keep them lingering a bit longer.
  • Sign-up sheet - I always have people sign in at the event. If they give you their email address, ask if you can add them to your mailing list. This is a great way to build a "fan club" and continue spreading the word about your book as well as future novels. To encourage sign-ups, you could also do a raffle but make sure that folks don't have to be present to win. That can be a big turn off.
  • Make up a small flyer to hand to people who enter the store. They may not even know about your signing but you'll be sure to tell them. Keep in mind that heavy promotion of your book signing does not just benefit you, it also benefits the store and sends a strong message that you know how to move your books.
  • Your favorite pen.

During Your Signing

  • Don't sit down unless you have to.

  • Smile, talk, and most of all, have fun! This is no time to be shy.

  • If no one shows up, remember, that's okay. It has happened to all of us at one time or another.

  • Get people to enter your contest or sign your guest book.

  • Tell the store manager that you'd like to sign the remaining books before you leave the store and see if they have "Autographed by Author" stickers for them. If they don't, you might want to think about ordering some from the American Booksellers Association ( You can get these and a variety of other book stickers for5 a roll. These stickers will really help to move your book.

  • Don't feel confined to stay just a few hours. Stay as long as there is an interest in the book. Once, I booked a signing for two hours; I ended up staying for five.

What To Do After Your Book Signing

  • Send a thank-you note to the person in charge of coordinating your signing. Don't send an email. Send a handwritten note. It will go a lot further!
Book signings and events can be a great way to spread the word about your book, also if you're trying to get local media sometimes an event can be the best way to do that. Remember if you're pitching the media, they aren't going to care that you have an event. Tell them how this book will help their readers/viewers/listeners, that's what they will care about.
Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Monday, November 18, 2013

So You Want to Write a Book Review . . .

Reader's Tip -

You finished that book you were reading and you loved it! Hated it! Were totally confused by it! And you know you want to write a review, but how? 

Well, our friends at goodreads have some helpful hints that we'd like to pass along.

Why write book reviews?

Book reviews help books get noticed and gain credibility. As a published writer, you will want to receive reviews to show readers that your book is widely-read and well-received. You will probably give away books and ask for reviews as part of your marketing plan. It stands to reason that if you write positive, honest reviews for other writers, they will do the same for you.

Where are reviews posted?

These days, the answer is ‘lots of places.’ Many writers post book reviews on their own blogs. If you choose to do this, presumably you are reviewing books that will draw readers who will in turn be drawn to your books. You can also post reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, library websites, or submit them to other people’s review blogs. If you really want to get serious, there are a lot of literary journals that accept freelance reviews.

How long are book reviews?

That will depend largely on where you are planning to submit your review. Check for guidelines, and assume that you will write anywhere from 100 to 1500 words. Be succinct, but give enough to serve the purpose of the review.

Points to Consider:

●What if you really don’t like the book? Always write your reviews with integrity. If you honestly don’t like a book, write your review as if you are in a critique session with the author. Use positive words and avoid sarcasm.

●Take time to read reviews written by other readers, but keep in mind that many of them are not professional writers.

●Review the book that has been written, not the book you think the author should have written. For example, don’t criticize a book for being sci-fi instead of a romance. It isn’t fair to criticize an author for failing to achieve something he or she never intended to achieve.

●Choose your words with the same care you would use when writing your own book.

For more information, including a template for crafting that review, click HERE.

We'd add one more point:

Not every book is for every reader. If a book has lots of glowing reviews, but you couldn't stand to read beyond the first chapter, then it's clearly not a bad book, but a book that doesn't suit your tastes. 
It's possible to say that in your review without being nasty toward the author or the reviewers who loved the book. 
Find something positive to say, as well as, what you found to be a negative. Be fair, be balanced, be honest, but always be nice in how you word things.  

Now, get busy on that review!  

Oh, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Planning an Exceptional Book Signing From Start to Finish (Part 1)


Today's post is courtesy of book marketing maven: Penny Sansevieri

Despite the fact that bookstores are closing, authors still want signings and events. Now, more than ever, calendars fill up quickly for events and space is even more precious than it has ever been in the past. What do you do when you have a book signing and no one shows up? Sure, that may sound like the beginning of a great joke, but for many of us, it’s our worst nightmare. Here are some tips on how to have a great event to help bring together existing fans and drive new readership.
I learned this the hard way during my own book signing years ago. Though I had sent marketing materials in advance the store manager hadn't put any of them out. No posters, no bag-stuffers, nothing. Needless to say I learned the hard way that book signings are more than events, there needs to be a strategy behind them and as an author, you should be prepared to get up and talk to people. Don’t just sit there and sign—we should all be so lucky that the lines for our book are so long that we barely have time to jot down our signature in our book and move to the next fan. Generally, though, this isn't the case.

The Buddy System

Some authors like to have another person there signing with them to drive additional interest to the event. I've done it both ways, and they each have their merits. First of all, the buddy system will probably bring in more people since you are essentially doubling your publicizing efforts (or at least you should be). You can turn a simple book signing into an event. One of you can be having a book discussion or workshop, while the other author is signing. It’s a great way to draw a crowd and keep a crowd. Also, often it’s easier to get publicity when there’s more than one author present. This type of book signing works well for unknown authors if you have a specific program or want to have a book signing that lasts all day. In fact, many bookstores now offer a night that celebrates new authors so ask them if they do this. Often you’ll find that they will pull together as many as seven authors. While this may seem like a lot, it’s really a fantastic way to drive a larger crowd to the event.

No Sitting On The Job

As I mentioned previously, don’t just sit there and smile. Get up, move around and engage people in conversation. Would you believe I’ve been told that some shoppers are actually intimidated to just walk up and talk to an author?  But, if you speak to them first you’re breaking the ice, and maybe, making a sale. Take your focus off of yourself and your stack of books and put it on the people in the store. As with anything in marketing you’re really selling yourself. Get up from your chair to greet people as they enter the store. I usually have a small flyer made up with the cover of my book and a blurb about it, and I tell people I’m signing books today. Smile and talk to them and hand them a book. If you tell them about your novel, be sure you have your short and punchy elevator pitch ready. The last thing you want to do is take up a ton of their time when they are there to shop. Get them excited about it—let your passion shine through. Passion is a very contagious thing.

Go See What the Competition is Doing

Have you ever visited someone else’s book signing? I did because I wanted to see what it was about, to see what other authors did. Some of your best ideas or taboos will come from watching other people. I remember the first one I went to, I entered the store and there she was, the smiling author, pen ready and stack of books looming over the table. I wondered if I were just a customer that happened into the store, what would make me walk up to her unless my specific purpose had been to attend this signing? Then, I wondered what I could do to draw that traffic. Face it, no matter how much publicizing you do, unless you've got a spot on Good Morning America to talk up your signing, most of your foot traffic will probably just be shoppers. If you’re really lucky you’ll see some frantic people in search of last-minute gifts, and autographed books make great presents!

Be Unique!

If your book involves anything that you can tie in with a theme or a prop, all the better. I went to a book signing for an author who specialized in period romance. This particular novel was set during the 1600s and she dressed in a gown fitting to the time. She also had a castle backdrop that a neighbor painted for her. Her neighbor was an aspiring artist, so not only was she doing the author a favor but the neighbor got to showcase her work as well. People really love this kind of thing. I mean anyone can sit at a table and smile, but sitting there (or likely standing) in a corset for four hours takes real passion. Give some thought to what you can do to develop a theme or prop for your signing. If the store will let you, you should bring in food, too. This is especially great if it ties into your signing. And you don’t necessarily have to show up in costume, but try to do what you can to set yourself apart from the rest.

A Few Final Notes on Book Signings

Be cautious of pay periods when scheduling a date for your signing. For example, I will always try to schedule mine around the 15th or 30th of the month. I live in a Navy town and since they never fail to get paid on those dates, it really helps to boost my sales. Also, check to see if the store has a newsletter. If it does, offer to write a short article on your book or discussion topic that will draw more attention to your signing. Keep the article interesting and helpful without giving away everything you plan to share with your guests. Or, if your book is fiction, share an interesting excerpt from it. Sometimes bookstore newsletters are printed by their corporate offices, but generally they print them in-house and they are always in need of “filler” items.

Also, contact your local TV stations and speak to the producer. Call the day before (if your signing is on Sunday call them on Friday) and let him know you've sent a press release regarding your signing (you have, haven’t you?). If they need a sixty-second filler, you can offer their viewers some helpful tips on XYZ. Or, if your book is fiction, play up the “local author makes big” angle. Local stations love that. Speaking of media, if you can get yourself booked on a radio show the day before or preferably the morning of your signing you’ll really help to boost interest. If you get some on-air time, consider giving away a few of your books during the show. And remember to tie your book and event into something topical and relevant!

Finally, have fun! It's your big day and you've earned every glorious minute of it!

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Friday, November 1, 2013

October's Come to an End . . .

Thanks to everyone who joined in our month of Deals, Steals, and Reveals

We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! 
Don't forget, some deals - courtesy of the folks at Amazon - are still going on:

For a limited time you can still preorder these books at a discount:
  28% OFF             11% OFF

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming!