Remember the nursery rhyme “To market, to market, to buy a fat pig. Home again, home again, jiggity jig.” When it comes to marketing books, I harken back to this saying.
In order to exchange money for a desired item, one has to go to the market. Afterwards, it’s time to go home and rejoice. Interpolating, all authors have to do is get their books to a market.
Sounds easy, right? Just get out there and sell those printed books. But where? And how?
Many authors hold booksignings to market their work. While it’s traditional to hold signings in bookstores, there are other options. For instance, if your book is about horses, you might sell books at horse events. If your book has a quilting hook, you might do something at a quilt show or quilt shop.
I’ve held signings in ice cream stores for a summer release, in a seashell gift shop for a beach mystery, and at a golf course for a story where the victim was found on a golf course. I’ve also given talks at local clubs such as Rotary Club, D.A.R., and the historical society. I’ve launched books and authors programs for various vendors and library cultural events such as the Big Read. I even held one signing at a real estate Open House. At each event, I made sure to have my books for sale.
Why not just hold the signings in a bookstore? Believe it or not, that’s not an option for everyone these days. We have a satellite kiosk of a nearby indie bookstore in our county located inside an upscale flea market venue, but that’s it for bookstore in our area. I’ve signed at an independent store just south of us, but the big box bookstore in the same town wasn’t interested because I wasn’t pubbed by one of the Big Six.
Having to be creative about signings has helped me to enjoy the events I create. Have you ever sat at a signing in a bookstore and had folks walk by who won’t look you in the eye? Or had people refuse to take a free bookmark because they say they don’t read? (This happened in a large bookstore in Jacksonville!) Why put yourself through such torment? I’d much rather have a festive atmosphere, complete with a talk or a reading, gifts, refreshments, and a discussion time with fans.
It isn’t enough to schedule a signing; you have to tell people about your event. Getting press releases to the paper is easy; getting them to run them is out of your hands. Write the best, most interesting press release ever, and send it off a couple of weeks before your event. Some newspapers have online calendars where you can enter your event in an online database, which is helpful in the event your press release doesn’t get picked up.
The newspaper story will help attract new fans and will serve as a reminder for established fans. Send out a direct mailing to folks on your mailing list regarding the signing. Be sure and use your social media networks to spread the word as well. Encourage fans to bring a friend.
I can’t imagine having too many people at a signing. Wouldn’t that be a lovely problem to have? I would certainly do a jig all the way home in that instance!
Formerly an aquatic toxicologist contracted to the U.S. Army and currently a freelance reporter, Southern author Maggie Toussaint loves writing mysteries. She’s published four romantic suspenses and four mysteries, with Death, Island Style and Murder in the Buff her most recent releases. Her debut release, House of Lies, won Best Romantic Suspense in the 2007 National Readers Choice Awards. She’s currently a board member for Southeastern Mystery Writers of America. Visit her at www.maggietoussaint.com, http://mudpiesandmagnolias.blogspot.com/, and http://www.facebook.com/MaggieToussaintAuthor#.