Tag Archives: book signing

Marketing a Book #10 – Promoting Your Book and Yourself

20150523_162505 (2)Book Facts and Fantasy

I haven’t posted to this blog for a while. Since my last post there have been a few experiences related to book marketing worth writing about. The first relates to book signing opportunities and the second to direct to the public marketing at a market type event.

An author signing sounds like a terrific opportunity at first for the novice writer with his first book in print. In my case, the book is a creative non-fiction work. The opportunity was provided by Indigo/Chapters in Canada. I won’t name the bookstore branch since it is irrelevant to what I have to say. The store and the manager were most accommodating and welcoming, so that is not an issue. The issue is the reality of the bookstore as a venue.

I believe I stated in a long ago post that the idea of writing a book was daunting for two reasons; the enormity of the task, and the massive number of books available for the buying public to choose from. It was clear from the beginning that I would be fighting for oxygen the whole way. Not only are there vast numbers of books in print but there is an even larger ocean of eBooks in this world. All of those books are competing for the reader’s dollars before you put pen to paper.

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Book signing display

When you have a book signing scheduled many factors influence the possibility of making a sale, particularly when you are essentially an unknown quantity. So the first reality is no name, no fame, and no line up of people wanting to talk to you or look at your book. I did sell one copy to an interested reader, and had a few good conversations with a few individuals, but that was the sum total of the action during two four-hour intervals on different days. Perhaps the writer of a niche non-fiction work should be pleased with that outcome, but I’m a novice at this, so that’s just a guess.

The people who visit a bookstore usually have a book, or specific author in mind. This chain of bookstores is big on quality, unique, non-literature gift items as well, which is a big draw. The gift buyers are not there for books at all. There is also a Starbucks on site, so there are some people who pop in for a copy of a magazine or a newspaper and a coffee. Even on a great store traffic day, the probability of having people come over to your table is very small. You might as well be “the Invisible Man.” In fact, if I were an invisible man who had written a book, it probably would attract some attention. I was just INVISIBLE.

The other thing to consider is the “Consignment split”, which can be as little as 30% to the store. Stores in this chain take 45% of a sale. That’s not a problem, it’s just the cost of having space made available for your event. I suggest taking advantage of an opportunity to have an in-store event. You might get some leads and make some contacts with the public.

Direct sales are the best way to earn some money from your book. Copies can be ordered from the publisher at a significant discount. The Canada/US Dollar exchange rate was much better when I bought my copies. With the current exchange rates, the cost to the author increases. If I sell a book for the $CDN equivalent, the cost would be close to $30 a copy. I have been selling my books as if the $CDN is on par with the $US. Since my copies were purchased at about $13.22 CDN a copy, my profit is $8.78 a copy, so 10 copies net me $87.80. At the current exchange rate, my net gain would be about $1.00 less per copy or $77.80 net.

I decided to try direct sales to the public at a Christmas Market held at a popular location during the last weekend of November. The cost of a 2.5 x 4 sq ft display space on a covered table top was $220.00 + Taxes, $245.00 total. I needed gross sales from 11 books to break even. I sold only 8. That’s the downside of my experience. The upside was the number of public interactions I had over those two days. Not only did I make some important contacts through those interactions, but I was also able to affirm the validity of my plan to offer guided autobiography/memoir writing workshops at different venues in the coming year.

Book display for November show.

Book display for November show.

The number of books one might sell at a venue is limited by two factors; the audience for the sale and the cost of admission to the venue. This Christmas Market was held at a Botanical Garden and the emphasis was on Christmas displays, a model train display, and a ride on a miniature railway through a lighted garden. Most of the people attending were families with small children who had already paid an admission fee to enter the gardens. Definitely not my target audience.

There were some older individuals that were members of the gardens and entered the site free of charge. They were few in number, but accounted for almost all my sales and for most of the interactions providing good leads. I was also able to get my business cards distributed to a wider audience. I have already booked sales tables at two additional shows for 2016, but this time my target audience is assured. The shows are for seniors titled Forever Young. In addition to the sales space, I was able to pay a small fee to guarantee a corner table spot and reserve a 20-minute slot to make a presentation. There will be between 1400 and 1600 senior citizens in attendance at each show, which are 100% within my target group.

Just one more thing… You are going to have to spend a bit of money to reserve these sales locations so choose the event wisely.

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author

www.lalanweiss.com and www.lensofemptiness.com , and perhaps like my fan page at www.facebook.com/lalanweiss

publishing, signkng,

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Marketing a Book #7 – A First Book Signing Experience

Marketing a Book #7 – A First Book Signing Experience

The long awaited first book signing event has come and gone. If life has its anti-climactic moments, this was one of them.

I contracted for the book signing event at the end of March (’15), about five weeks after the official release date of Through a Lens of Emptiness. 20150523_162505By then, the first available in-store event date was May 30th, not exactly prime book shopping time, but not the worst. At least it wasn’t a date in mid-July when most families are on vacation and the store will be essentially empty. As I was soon to learn, along with the time of year, the weather is another important factor in modulating the number of people frequenting bookstores on a given day.

The weather forecast for the day of the event predicted an advancing cold front with the possibility of heavy rain and thundershowers. The only question was timing. By noon on Saturday, May 30th the cold front had not yet arrived. It was generally a warm sunny Saturday on the last weekend in May and the traffic in the bookstore would likely be sparse. Unseasonably cold with drizzle would have been better. However, hope springs eternal and a positive frame of mind was the order of the day.

The signing was scheduled to begin at noon and last until five. My table was set up near the store entrance and ready for visitors by 11:45. 2015-05-30 13.20.48Over the span of the event, I spoke to three people, one of whom bought a copy of my book. I’ll discuss those contacts later in this post, but first here are some observations about book signings that may be useful to the reader

1. When traffic in the store is low few people will come over to your book signing table.

2. When you are an unknown author, don’t expect too many visitors.

3. If your book is a non-fiction niche item, it might not draw much attention without a clever attractor.

4. Most people who come into a bookstore have a specific target book or genre in mind and will search for that target rather than investigate your offering.

5. Those who come over to talk to you usually have a leaning toward the content of your book already.

6. There are many books for the bookstore visitor to consider and distract him or her from your book. The only difference is that you happen to be standing near your book, but it is no different from the bookstore browser’s point of view.

7. Another negative for signing event relates to what else is available for purchase in the store. If it has many gift items available for purchase as well, they will be a distraction for sure.IMG_20150530_203025

There were three interesting visitors to my table that afternoon. One visitor was a regular follower of Buddhist teachings and was attracted to the word Emptiness on the book’s cover. She actually bought a copy and took a business card with her. Before leaving my table, she spent some time talking to me about the importance of mindfulness in everyday pursuits. The second visitor talked a bit about the book and took a business card and exited the store. She was observed contemplating my business card and returned for further discussion, but did not purchase a copy at that time. The final visitor talked with me a bit and was also interested in the fact that we lived in the same rural neighborhood.20150530_203854

It doesn’t sound like a very productive book signing, but I got more out the afternoon than the sale of one book. The person who bought a copy of the book suggested another well-established independent bookstore where a signing event was a possibility. It might also be possible to couple the signing event with an author talk. The individual who gave my card and book such careful consideration suggested that a nearby regional library system might accept the donation of a copy of my book and give me the opportunity to speak about it too.

I also appreciated the chance to face the public and field some simple questions about my book and refine my answers. The traffic was light so there was ample time to review each interaction, the sense of the question and the strength and clarity of the answer. By the end of the session, I had a clear vision of the best phrases to describe Through a Lens of Emptiness.

· Through a Lens of Emptiness is about a journey of self-discovery in search of contentment.

· Through a Lens of Emptiness is about building a legacy of experience, wisdom, and insight to share with others.

· Through a Lens of Emptiness looks back at the meaningfulness of a lifetime.

When one is engaged in the process of writing, being able to step back and view your work dispassionately and critically is essential. The same is true for understanding the dynamics of interacting with the public and presenting key points related to your book as simply and succinctly as possible. As the marketing process progresses, there will be more, and hopefully better opportunities to present in public. I intend to seek those opportunities as much as possible. As I write this post about my first book signing, I am already seeking to book a second in the fall. I hope to schedule one in late November or early December when books are on the gift lists of many, the weather is not so nice, and the bookstores are full of people.

I have been fortunate to receive an invitation to speak to a group of retired professionals about my book. They are interested in the legacy aspect of my writing. I will blog about that experience too.

Until the next time,

As always, your faithful blogger,

L Alan Weiss (Larry) – Author – Through a Lens of Emptiness: Reflections on Life, Longevity and Contentment

Please visit my author website and my Facebook fanh page too.

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Filed under Marketing a book, The Big Picture