11/15/06

Book Signings a la Mode

No, I don't mean serve ice cream at your book signing. I mean, if you're going to do a book signing, make it feel like ice cream.

About the comment that publishers don't want to make the effort to set up signings...uhm, yes and no. Here's the deal. Let's say we have 100 authors who all want to do a book signing tour (as in, half a dozen signings each) and they're scattered all over the U.S. If every bookstore we call says yes, that's 600 phone calls we have to make, at about 15-30 minutes each, so we're looking at 150 to 300 hours JUST TALKING TO THE BOOKSTORES!

But of course, they won't all say yes, so we have to call more stores. And then we have to call the author and make sure the dates we sign them up for are still good. And then we have to work out the details to get extra books ordered, offer a generous return policy, send out posters, flyers, reminder calls.

And if averages hold true, we're going to only sell a handful of books at each one.

So that's why publishers aren't super-hyped about setting up book signing tours and why, if you want one, you're going to have to do a lot of work yourself.

The exception to this is if the publisher can showcase a group of authors at the same signing--for example, getting a bookstore to do a book signing day where we have maybe a dozen or more authors show up throughout the day to do the signings. Then it becomes a party--ergo, the a la mode reference.

a la mode

4 comments:

Anonymous said...
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FHL said...

I could decide to be snarky and say that the original meaning of "a la mode" means "on the side", which all book signings would be, but instead, I'd like to try to be less snooty and say that I have really enjoyed going to the two LDS book signings I've been to. Unfortunately (for them) there were not many visitors to the authors, but hey, that meant I had their undivided attention! (Although, really, they had mine.)

If you have a chance, go, and make them feel happy they have fans! The two I went to were not pretentious at all (despite how they might come across in their blogs!) I bet if you brought them some ice cream, they'd be particularly happy. =)

Jeff Savage said...

I have a couple of thoughts on this post. I absolutely agree that an author has to be willing to go the extra mile to do their own marketing if they want to succeed. On the other hand, once the publisher has scheduled a signing, the author still has to spend the time, buy the gas, call the store in advance to make sure they remembered and that there are actually books, turn from writer into salesperson, etc. Considering that the signing should benefit both the publisher and the author, it doesn't seem fair to expect the author to do all that AND schedule the signings. Especially since a publisher usually has more success and knows the right people.

It seems to me that the most effective way to do it is for the publisher to call the stores, find out which dates are available and if the stores have a preference on who they would like to come, then fill in the slots with available authors. Especially outside of Utah, bookstores seem to be quite open to signings. Here in the Beehive State, LDS authors are a dime a dozen.

And personally I am not very fond of group signings. First of all, it's very difficult to meet and talk to the store salespeople (which in my opinion is 90% of the reason you're there) when there are ten other authors vying for their time.

Second, I am one of those authors who likes to greet everyone who comes in the store, hand them a bookmark or flyer, and tell them a bit about my book if they seem interested. Try doing that with ten author authors (or even two or three.) So I mostly end up sitting and chatting with the other authors, which is fun but not terrifically productive.

Lastly, I find that people see a long row of authors and immediately run the opposite direction.

So while these may be easier for a publisher to schedule, I'm willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that they are MUCH less effective. Even with the big events like midnight madness in Logan.

LDS Publisher said...

Good comments. If all authors worked the room like you do, I think publishers and bookstores would be a little more receptive to the whole idea.