I had a 3-hour book signing in the Salem bookstore Wicked Good Books this past Sunday, June 23rd, 2019. Thank you to Samantha for keeping me company all day and Lynn R for coming out to meet me for dinner – that was delightful! Here’s how it went.
First, the Wicked Good Books location is just about perfect for my Black Cat series. My series is set in Salem and is about a detective solving mysteries. This bookstore continually sells out of my book. So that is one key in working with a bookstore. If you can find that kind of exact match, it does well for both of you. It makes the bookstore happy and you, the author, happy.
Because I am one of their featured authors, they gave me the opportunity to sit in front of their store for a few hours to promote my books. This section of Salem is a pedestrian-only zone. People come out to stroll, window shop, walk their dogs, and enjoy the sunshine. It was perfect weather for a Sunday. So this provides the “built in foot traffic” requirement for a good author signing. People were absolutely out walking around.
Also, with me sitting in front of a bookstore, clearly people near here were interested in books. Probably they were interested in books about Salem. Were they all interested in short mysteries? Probably not, but that’s OK. Enough people would be that it would work out all right.
The bookstore had sold out of my books again in early June so really I was just bringing in another batch of 20 books for them to sell. I didn’t want to sell all 20 on the street because then I’d have to drive in yet again with more books for them to sell. I suppose I could mail my signed books to them, but postage is fairly expensive, and my books are heavy, so it makes sense for me to drive them in. So my vague target was 5 books. That way I’d hand-sign some books for visitors to build that connection. I’d still leave enough books in the shop for them to have them available during their busy summer season. I’d have to drive some out anyway again before they got into the late summer. I don’t mind driving in warmer weather when it’s light out.
I ended up selling six books to fans, which was just right. I also had an herbalist shop owner ask me for three books to put in her shop a few blocks away. That means I’m now represented in two different Salem shops. So I got additional placement simply for being there.
On the downside, it means I only got 11 books into the bookstore itself and they’ll need more again soon. So I’ll have to coordinate that. It takes a full day of time for me to drive out, visit a while, and drive home again. I tend to be extremely busy to I can’t do that very often. So that’s something to balance out.
Still, overall, the keys were this:
* Bookstore was perfectly targeted for my content. Note I don’t have ANY of my other books in this store. It’s not worth it. They wouldn’t sell as well. Find those bookstores which are a perfect match for your book and focus on them.
* I did a ton of promotion leading up to this event. Even if people weren’t coming out to buy my book there, they were buying it online. Use any event as an opportunity to blitz publicity in a way that feels supportive rather than promotional.
* Weather was perfect. Pray to the weather gods.
* I forgot my phone in the car. Usually I would be tweeting and posting the entire time to drum up traffic. While I did miss doing that, it meant I was 100% engaged with any visitor who came by. I admit by the end of the day I was happy to sit back and see if people wanted to come to me. I really didn’t want to sell any more books direct, because it would mean fewer books for the store longer term. But in general, don’t stare at your phone. Don’t talk to a friend. Be there and available to visitors. Look interested in talking.
Ask with any questions!
Wicked Good Books – https://www.wickedgoodbookstore.com/
Black Cat series – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O3841BO/