How do you set up a signing? Do you think signings help?
Let your publisher know that you want to do signings and see if they have a process in place to set them up for you. However, unless you're a BIG seller, be prepared to travel on your own nickel.
If your publisher doesn't set up signings or you're self-published, you'll need to do this yourself. You'll have the most success setting up signings in your local area or an area to which you have connections—like maybe the town where you grew up.
Visit or call the local bookstores to make sure they stock your book.
Then stop by and introduce yourself. Take business cards and/or bookmarks. Ask what the store policy is on book signings and who is in charge of setting them up. Make an appointment to speak to that person. (Do not assume that they will be there and able to speak to you right then.)
For every visit, dress professionally—this means business casual, at the most relaxed. Hair done, make-up on, if you're a woman. Hair combed and freshly shaven (or trimmed), if you're a man. And please, please, please, brush your teeth and pop a breath mint before you go.
Be prepared to state what you will do to help advertise the event:
- Provide posters for the doors/windows.
- Provide bag stuffer flyers.
- Be willing to bring treats or door prizes.
- Time a press release or human interest story in the local paper that will list the dates, times and locations of your signings.
- Online promo for the signing—and this should be more than a simple mention in a blog post. Facebook it, Twitter it, send it in your newsletter. You need to be able yo give them an estimate of how many people you'll be able to drive through their doors.
- Bring author friends for a multi-signing event (if the store is interested).
The more work you do, the more likely the bookstore is to host a signing.
And DO NOT go in with the attitude that you're doing them a favor. Unless you're a BIG name that's going to draw hundreds of customers, most book signings are not worth the time and effort for the store. They are doing YOU a favor to let you come in and meet your public.
One more thing to note: Not all bookstores do book signings. If they refuse you, be pleasant and tell them that if they're interested in the future, to give you a call. Then ask if they'd like you to sign the books on their shelves. You want them to be impressed by how easy to work with and accommodating you are; not intimidated by your bullying self.
And yes, I do think signings help, but not in the way most authors imagine. They don't usually help generate immediate sales for the store. It helps to sell your work over time. Signings are most helpful because they personalize you to the workers at the bookstore. If they like you, they will recommend your book to customers after you leave. (This is not really favoritism, it's just the way people work.)