How to Host a Book Signing Event

book signing eventWhen you think of a book signing, do you picture a bespectacled author sitting at a table in the back of a bookstore, patiently waiting for customers to notice her?

That’s what a lot of us think of when we consider a signing event, and while that used to be the norm, today’s book signings look very different. Your event can be anything you want it to be, because you have complete control (unless your publisher is footing the bill, in which case, follow their lead). Here are some book signing event ideas.

Your event can be:

  • Casual or formal – you set the tone
  • Indoors or out – imagine a book about healthy living with a reading in the local park
  • Structured or not – free form readings and Q&A sessions can be more inviting than a strictly scheduled event

As you can see, your book signing can be whatever you choose to make of it. Bookstores are just one option, but there are many others, depending on where your market likes to hang out and the specific topic of your book.

For example, if you’ve written a book about your life as a pro golfer, book-signing events on a driving range or in the clubhouse are a natural fit. If your subject is how to build an online business and live the laptop lifestyle, consider a beachside signing instead.

Here’s something else to consider: where is your audience? Ideally, you’ll want to host your book signing where it’s convenient and comfortable for them. Some popular options include:

  • Book stores
  • Libraries
  • Boutique markets
  • Industry conferences
  • Festivals

You may find that you have better luck booking events in off-the-wall locations. The reason is that big bookstores often have deals with publishers in which they get paid to host events. If you’re not willing to pay – and the cost can be steep – you likely won’t get large booksellers to host you. There are two ways around this:

  1. Opt for smaller venues. Approach independent book stores instead, since they’re less likely to have prior agreements with big publishing houses.
  2. Speak directly to the store manager and make it clear that you want to do an impromptu event, not a formal signing. You won’t get the advanced press you might otherwise get, but you’ll make up for it in walk-in traffic.

Either way, the bookstore must be able to order copies of your book, so be sure you’re working with a publisher that allows that option. Some vanity presses will tell you that book stores can purchase stock, but the truth is the ordering process is so cumbersome and the return policy so bad that bookstore owners and managers will not order from them. In that case, you can offer to bring your own stock if the bookstore will allow it. Self-publishing makes the most sense, where you order directly from the fulfillment house in the number of copies you wish to receive.

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