(Al Levenson shared this with the Marketing Group)
BEFORE THE SIGNING
Arrange with the bookstore in advance how sales will be handled. How many books do they want you to bring? How many of the unsold copies will they retain on consignment? Do they have a standard consignment agreement for you to sign?Then prepare an invoice for the number of books you’re bringing. The usual discount is 40%. The store will tally sales from the signing and send you a cheque later. Bringing an invoice for the full amount makes it easier for the store. Keep track yourself about how many books you sign. You might even have sheet where buyers can give you their names and e-mail addresses, so you can follow up with information about your next book, or request testimonials for your website.
If the bookstore is not planning to promote the signing in-store with flyers, offer to make flyers and take them to the store. The more colourful, the better.Seven days before the event promote the signing in the local media and to all of your contacts, including friends, neighbours and colleagues.
If your book has won any type of award, make sure to highlight this in your publicity, and purchase “award-winner” stickers to place on the books.Call the bookstore four days before the signing to ensure the store is ready for you.
Clarify the procedure. Where will your table be? Will someone be there to handle sales? Will they offer any refreshments?Try to talk the store into setting up a display of your books a day or two prior to the signing, or several hours before you arrive to generate advance interest.
Make sure they have signs to place on the shelves where your books will go after the signing. If they don’t have these, make a few simple signs yourself. A letter-size sheet, folded in half horizontally, should read “Signed by Author” on the bottom half, so the top half can be tucked under the books.Think about what to wear. If your book is quirky, geared to children, or in a special genre (like sci-fi or fantasy) wear one or two pieces of clothing such as a hat or shirt that reflect that. Otherwise, dress professionally. You won’t attract potential buyers by looking like just another person shopping at the mall. A jacket is always a wise idea (and gives you a place to pin your name badge). Keep strong colors to the centre of your upper body, perhaps a bright tie or scarf, or a bright colored shirt or blouse under your jacket. Avoid plaids, prints, or anything distracting. Consider props for the table. Think about what might tie in with your book’s subject or theme. People are drawn to props, whereas a pile of books is boring.
AT THE SIGNINGArrive at least 20 minutes early to ensure the table has been set up and is in a high traffic location. In Chapters, try to have the table set up near the “power aisle,” which is the main aisle heading toward the back of the store.
Don’t be afraid to change the way the books are arranged on the table. If you’re left-handed, you will want a different set-up than for a right-hander. Bring business cards, bookmarks or flyers to hand out to those who drop by but don’t buy a book.Place a dish of candies on the table: many people will see them and dip in. Once they are close, engage them.If you have a nametag, wear it so people know you are an author; if you don’t have a nametag, make one. It should contain just your name, in a large font. Don’t wear jewelry or a tie that competes with the tag.
Be friendly with customers but not pushy.Don’t sit at the table: stand up and move around behind the table and infront of the table.Have a couple of brief messages ready when customers approach; if one isn’t working, try another one.
AFTER THE SIGNINGWhen the signing ends, ask the book store manager or a supervisor to keep as many copies of your book as possible in case non-buyers come back to the store at a later date in search of your book.
Ask a manager to take the extra flyers or bookmarks you brought along.
If the person who set up the signing is in the store, thank him/her for their efforts; if they are not available, call them with a personal thank you or send an email thank you note.