Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why I Love Book Signings, No Matter What

I just finished a marathon 6 weeks of travel up and down the east coast doing signings and luncheons for my second novel, SO HAPPY TOGETHER, which debuted last month. It was exhausting! And exhilarating! The turnouts were atrocious! And astounding!

And so it goes if you want to get out there and promote your book.

After living the sheltered existence of me and my laptop for most of the year, I love getting out and meeting people. I love to hear reader's responses to my writing, my characters, my plot. I've given up trying to write while touring, or signing, because I just don't have the energy for both. I give these events my all.

And go in with an open mind.

Maybe it's because I did so many book signings when I self-published my first novel, THE RICHEST SEASON. I had no expectations. After all, how many people go to signings for a self-published book?

But I had some pretty good events. I worked them. I brought copies of reviews, I chatted up my book, or anything, with customers, and I tried on my own to get as much PR from local press. I also e-mailed anyone I knew in the area, letting them know I'd be at a nearby store.

I still do as much as I can to bring people in to my signings.

My events this summer ran the gamut from sold out (with over 100 attending) to selling just one book. For the typical store signing, I find the booksellers are sometimes more anxious than I am. Usually they start by explaining that you can never tell how many might attend.

And I end up assuring them that I'm prepared for anything, and if we sell one book, I'll be satisfied. Then they share stories of authors who've gotten huffy because of poor turnouts, and I can tell they're grateful I understand. And I really do.

For twenty years I sold real estate and when I held an Open House, I'd advertise, put out signs and balloons, and do everything possible to get people in the door. But sometimes no one showed up. If it was really nice out, people would rather do something else. If the weather was awful, well that might keep them away, too. You couldn't MAKE people walk through the door. And it's the same with book signings.

But I know one thing about booksignings, they are totally worthwhile, even if you don't get a great turnout. Because it's not just about the event.

It's about the bookseller being invested in selling my book, both before, during and after the event. Because once they read your book, they're on board. And then when you meet, you get to make it more personal.

And of course, leaving signed books in the store afterword is a big plus. As my publicist once said "a signed book is a sold book," so I love it when we end an event with me signing a stack of books for them to sell in the coming weeks.

And they usually do, as my follow-up e-mails from them have proven.

Maryann McFadden's second novel, SO HAPPY TOGETHER, debuted in hardcover last month. Her originally self-published first novel, THE RICHEST SEASON, debuted last year and was just released in trade paperback. Both are published with Hyperion Books.

1 comment:

Julie P. said...

It was such a treat to meet you at one of these book signings! I can't wait to read your books!