Market Your Writing with a Book Signing Event

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 23rd Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/im7lgrf_/
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Sales & Marketing

Writers write books. But successful authors get out there and sell what they've written. Read on.

Friday was a Big Day for Me

Last week, I wrote Tomorrow's the Big Day. For me, it was a huge day -- a great day for sales, and a jump-start to my book marketing. I had entered into a contract with a local grocer to sign and sell books at my neighborhood store. I thought this would be a great opportunity, since I likely knew five or more of every 10 people who entered that store and shopped or worked there. I may not know all of them by name, but I've taught them, their kids, or their neighbors. Or we went to school together, depending on their age, as classmates (or they taught me). If I couldn't sell books in this store, I needed to pack up and go home.

Preparation is Key

The nice thing about doing a book signing at a grocery store is that an author like me could use the wheeled grocery cart to bring their books, table, chairs, and other supplies into the store. Once there, I bought a vinyl tablecloth and some fresh cookies. I arranged copies of each book on the vinyl tablecloth-covered table and opened the box of cookies. I was ready to woo some readers! (I kept most of my books under the table, so I could restock quickly in the fortunate event that I needed to.) I set up two chairs so if any of my friends could stop by, they wouldn't have to stand.

People Grow and Change

The first person to stop by my table was my junior high school assistant principal. (How I hope he doesn't read this without a sense of humor.) Imagine a guy who strongly resembled Pee Wee Herman, who made me cry on my first day of 7th grade, and constantly gave me a hard time throughout junior high (despite the fact that I was an honor student in grades AND behavior) and didn't believe I was old enough to be a sub when I returned in that capacity, and was STILL giving me a hard time. Suffice to say, NOT my favorite administrator.

Given that I'm no longer a tween, or a teen, and I was on a mission to sell books, I called him by name. He did a double-take, and then shook my hand. We chatted about his retirement -- I had no idea he was a coach before he was an administrator. We talked about his 90 year old mother, and his love of golf. I told him about the time he made me cry. He pointed to my books and said, "but you turned out all right."

Huh. I guess I did.

Good Friends

My friends came out to see me. A few friends came throughout the day to make sure I could run to the facilities and have plenty to drink and eat. Out of necessity, I'd have had to pack up a lot sooner had they not been there for me, and I'm very grateful to them.

One brought me flowers as a centerpiece for my table. My wonderful husband came and brought me lunch so I didn't have to leave the table (he bought it from the grocer's deli, so we continued to support the store). One friend's eight year old daughter helped me pass out stickers (I made stickers with my latest book title to hand out) to kids who were with their parents in the afternoon. Then, she drew pictures that I could put in my children's books later. She is quite the artist.

All my friends made a big deal of being proud of me, of telling others that they had read my book and liked it (each friend had read one), and of keeping me from sitting there, all by myself, obsessing over why this person or that WASN'T stopping by my table. Each respected when someone came over -- stepping away to do "something" or just abruptly ending our conversations -- so I didn't miss any opportunities or sales. I could not have asked for better friends.

Sales

I sold 18 books in 12-13 hours. Three books were sold to people who knew I was having the event and came to see me and buy my book. Nine were sold to someone who'd bought a book of mine in the past or who knew me, but didn't realize I'd be at that store that day selling books. The rest were sold to people who had no idea who I was when they walked into the store.

One woman recalled to me that John Grisham's first book, A Time To Kill, wasn't selling too well. And then how Mr. Grisham bought 1,000 copies of his own book and sold them door to door. So that when his next book came out a year later, everyone knew his writing style and knew they wanted more. So she bought one of each of my books so that when I publish my next one, she said, she'll know she helped me get there. My smile spread ear to ear, and was pretty much that way all day.

Another woman told me about her non-fiction book club. She had just asked me what each book was about, and I told her about Mother Confessor, where the grandmother-figure of the Community tells stories that the children think are the community history but as they grow, they realize that many of the stories are at least fabrications and at most outright lies and revisionist history. This made her recall a passage in a book they'd been reading about Dwight D. Eisenhower, where the failure of a business was covered up by a woman trying to help her husband save face. I haven't read the book on Eisenhower, and had no idea about the connection. I told her that sounded really familiar, and she continued with her shopping. But when she came to check out, she came and got a copy of Mother Confessor. She said, "I just thought about all the connections between those two, and thought it had to be a sign."

Well, who am I to say no to that?

I had also made a "bookmark" with all my social media links (including Wikinut), so many people that said they couldn't afford my paperback books were directed to the free Kindle app and my books on Kindle. Maybe I'll add some Wikinuts as well -- who knows?

Fringe Benefits

I got to talk with so many wonderful people. Three husbands bought my books for their wives. I got to talk to a mother of a young author, Avery, who is also living with Asberger's. In the video, Avery had started his first community project. He's been doing a lot more since. He's talking to politicians and groups about his life (yes, an article will follow on this). I didn't get to meet him Friday, but his siblings are neat young people and his mother is one of those beautiful examples of grace and strength.

Besides meeting Avery's family, I got a lot of ideas for future Wiki articles, an idea for a new book, and advice on creating large print editions of my books for folks in our community who read voraciously and have the poor eyesight to show for it.

I got to talk to two aspiring writers about making time and "I've always wanted to" and I loved being able to speak with them.

I got to talk to people who don't read, but someone in their family does -- one of them connected with me through social media right after he left the store. I know he probably won't read my books himself, but he's already connected me with two other people. Just goes to show that it still IS who you know more than what you know.

My last sale of the night was to a teacher I recognized, but couldn't say her name. I admitted this, and she introduced herself and said I was also familiar, but she sees so many people... We had a nice chat, and she ended up buying my book for her best friend. When I asked for the name, and she told me, I did a double-take. The name she mentioned was very familiar to me. Her best friend's daughter and I were best friends for years. I'd had more sleep-overs at her best friend's house than I could count. When I could pick my chin up off the floor, I told her so. Her eyes twinkled. "Even better," she said. Yes, even better.

I went home with eight books unsold, but that's OK. I am officially kicking myself (but not too hard) for not doing this years ago when I published my first book. It's OK, because I am doing it NOW. I have re-ordered inventory and have set two new dates at two new stores (This grocer has 72 stores in three states, and my contract gives me options to be at any of them). If they go well, I plan to be hitting the stores every weekend between now and Christmas. Local books signed by the author make great unique gifts, and books don't sell themselves -- yet.

I am ready. I am happy.

Tags

Author, Book, Book Signing, Marketing, Novel, Sell Books, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar CharityBradford
23rd Oct 2013 (#)

Wow! This sounds like it really was a great day. Isn't it great to have so much support from your friends, but somehow meeting someone new is even cooler. I'm so glad it went well for you.

We need to sit down so you can walk me through their process. Of course it won't do much good until I have money to buy more inventory myself.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
23rd Oct 2013 (#)

Good morning, Phyl. I have been waiting for this update! So pleased it went well for you. I like the step by step process you have outlined, thanks. ~Marilyn

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
23rd Oct 2013 (#)

Great! good work well done Phyl...congratulations you are the best...

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
23rd Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks so much everyone! It was definitely a day to be living the dream!!

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author avatar Jerry Walch
23rd Oct 2013 (#)

Hi Phyl,
Like Marilyn, I was waiting to hear all about your big day. i knew that it was going to be a success nfor you.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
23rd Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks, Jerry!

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author avatar Connie McKinney
23rd Oct 2013 (#)

Hi Phyl: I, too, was wondering how your big day went. I'm so glad to hear it went well.
I look forward to reading more about Avery. I have worked with kids with autism and currently work with an adult who has Asperger's Syndrome just like Avery does. I have an autism article here in the works. If you need resources, try Autism Speaks. I think it's autismspeaks.org

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Oct 2013 (#)

I know it well, Connie; thanks!

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
24th Oct 2013 (#)

Uplifting share, Phyl. One needs to be dedicated and have passion too. Happy for you - siva

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author avatar C.D. Moore
24th Oct 2013 (#)

Congrats on your books and thanks for the great and well written suggestions.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
25th Oct 2013 (#)

Thanks, CD and Siva!

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author avatar Carol
26th Oct 2013 (#)

Well done Phyl, but you have not told me the title of your book. Can I buy it on Amazon?, I would love to give you my support, as one Wikinutter to another. x

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
26th Oct 2013 (#)

Awesome, Carol. Yes, they are all on Amazon. I have _Mother Confessor_ (Book One, Book Two, or the 2 in 1 Edition) and I have _The Carley Patrol_. Thanks for your support!!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
14th Nov 2013 (#)

Good morning, Phyl. Shared

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
14th Nov 2013 (#)

Cool.

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author avatar Rose*
20th Nov 2013 (#)

Congratulations! Readers love meeting authors and getting signed copies - it makes the book feel special.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
20th Nov 2013 (#)

Thanks, Rose*! Do you write (outside of Wikinut, of course), too?

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author avatar Williamsji
28th Nov 2013 (#)

Good, Congrats on your successful publishing. Me too is really interest. More infor required, and I really appreciate on your confidence, Regards & Love From
williamsji maveli

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
30th Nov 2013 (#)

I've written several articles on writing and publishing. But I'll do my best to answer any question you ask!

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author avatar Retired
30th Nov 2013 (#)

Hello Dear, how are you doing today? am ( Miss rose) i visited your lovely profile today and am interested in knowing more about you. please kindly write me back directly to my private email address is(roseapia_2013@yahoo.in )for you to know more about me. I believe knowing each other will help us in future communications. please write me directly to my email address here (roseapia_2013@yahoo.in ) .

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Dec 2013 (#)

Hi Miss rose; thank you for visiting. I'll think about your offer. I hope you've written some articles for Wikinut that I can use to get to know you better -- feel free to click on my name and profile again to see more articles I've written. I do hope you like what I have offered for your information, entertainment, and amusement.

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author avatar Web I Weave
18th Sep 2014 (#)

What an AWESOME article!! I loved the *signed copy* of your book that you gave me - and the info about publishing options. I am hoping to be able to have a book or two in print by the end of this year. You have inspired me to reach for the stars - and to keep writing!!!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
19th Sep 2014 (#)

Oh! Thanks. Your comment gives me heaps of warm fuzzies!!

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