I wasn't going to hold a book signing. Almost everything I read by other authors about book signings was discouraging, especially for first-time authors such as myself. Even one of my closest friends, who is a bestselling Canadian author, said, "I didn't have the guts to hold one -- I was too worried no one would show up and I'd look like a loser."
But I went ahead and did one anyway. It happened fast - furiously - and it was a blast. And I want to explain why I went against the odds, and also give other authors/aspiring authors a few tips around 'what worked'.
I decided three weeks before my signing that I'd hold one. Father's Day was chosen as my Big Day. I knew that left little time for publicizing it; a 'media frenzy' was a long shot, to say the least.
But I didn't care...for you see, I decided to focus on something more dear and important: first, celebrating the long road I'd travelled to write and have my memoir, The Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom (Seal Press), published -- and secondly, seizing the opportunity to connect face-to-face with readers (even if there were only two of them -- and they were my friends *grin.)
My publicist at Seal Press did send out press releases to all the major media in Calgary. But no, none of them showed up, no surprise. But still, I consider my signing a huge personal success. Of the five hours I sat in Chapters, maybe 20 minutes of it had me sitting idly by myself (I read another book). And at no point was I standing at the door trying to lure people over to my table.
Here's what I did that I think helped:
1) I had a giant color poster printed and laminated with my book cover on it. Across the top I printed a 'tag line' , which was a question printed in a font that was big enough for people to read if they were ten feet away. The words "divorce", "infidelity", and "passion" drew people to me; got them curious. I also wrote, "Now under option in Hollywood" (which it is) across the book cover to pretend I'm a superstar *grin. My point is, highlight what you can and don't be modest (ugggh, I know it can be tough!)
You can see my giant poster in the two-minute video below:
2) I printed up 500 book marks. I didn't come CLOSE to handing them all out, but it was a lovely takeaway for people walking by. I had the 'tag line', my book cover, and website all printed on them. Only one side of the bookmark was printed in colour --the other side was white. And it cost about $80 total -- didn't break the bank and well worth it.
3) Only one week before my book signing, I posted on my website, I Am Divorced Not Dead, that I was holding one. At the same time, I also mentioned it on Facebook and a few times on Twitter (I'm not much into social media, too time consuming.) What can I say other than you never know who and how many are reading your website -- I had about dozen people show up who followed me in the shadows online. What a pleasure!
4) Film it! As you can see from my video, I now get to relive and bask in the fun of that day as well as continue using it for publicity on YouTube. Believe me, no professional equipment or camera person were used at my signing! It was a friend's HD camera, five years old, the camera lens was dirty and about 75% of the footage is pretty yuck. But as you can see, iMovie (on Mac) works magic and using an hour of my time, I was able to string something fun and (relatively) entertaining together.
So was there thunderous applause as I walked into Chapters for my signing? Pfft-- NO! Was there a line-up stretching down the isle, people waiting to get their copies signed? Ummm...no way.
But for five hours I connected one-on-one with readers and potential readers, both friends and virtual strangers. I laughed, I listened, and I even got teary-eyed during a few conversations. I was 100% grounded in the moment and open to whatever came my way.
And as I drove home after the event, my body and brain absolutely aglow, I had one reocurring thought: "Thank GOD I went ahead and did a book signing."
I hope this article inspires you to so the same, too.
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