Simon Kolz

A weblog by Simon Kolz

FAQs about Book Signings

Since I self-published my first book, “101 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills Instantly,” in 1998 and began doing book signings shortly afterward, many people have asked:

1. What do you get paid to do a book signing?

It depends on where the book signing occurs. Most bookstores
do not pay authors to do a book signing. Linda Ligon,
Interweave Press, says that her authors are paid an
honorarium by craft stores. The “pay” is most often an
opportunity to interact with readers, increase the sales of
your book, and enhance your status as an expert.

2. How much money do you make on a book signing tour?

It depends-and you may never know precisely. It depends to a
large extent on how well your events are publicized because
more people attend when excitement is created about the
event. It depends on your presentation and interaction with
the audiences. You may know how many books were sold during
the event, but that is not the end of the story. One
bookseller says that more than 60% of the sales are made
after the author leaves the store.

3. Why would anyone go to a book signing?

To meet the AUTHOR! In many sections of the country, just
being an author makes you a celebrity. You are the
authority. Having an autographed copy of your book sets the
reader apart. In one city a lady purchased several copies of
“101 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills Instantly.”
With each request, she told me something about the recipient
so that I could tailor my comment for that individual.

4. What’s in it for authors who do a seminar or talk on
their book?

By presenting a mini-seminar or discussion at a book
signing, you demonstrate your knowledge on the topic. You
can elaborate on the contents and tell stories about things
that happened while you were in the writing process. You
also have an opportunity to develop a rapport with the
readers allowing them to experience you as a “real person.”
Event sponsors will like you because you have provided a
free service for their clientele. They will be most likely
to welcome you back with your next book.

5. What if nobody shows up? Even celebrity authors
occasionally have a “no show,” so don’t give up! The most
important thing is how you react when nobody shows up. Keep
smiling and draw on your positive mental attitude. Often
people will be in the aisles between the shelves, not
wanting to be the first to step forward. Walk over to the
section where your book would be, introduce yourself to
people there, and invite them to the presentation. Offer
them a free flier or handout. After the event sponsor has
read the introduction you provided, wait a few minutes, and
then begin your presentation at the appointed time with a
welcoming message. If a microphone has been provided, use
it. If no one shows up after two or three minutes, bring
your talk to a close with an invitation to people milling
about to visit the table later. Usually, managers will ask
authors to sign some extra copies. Be gracious and
uncomplaining. Later, review your actions and see what might
be improved upon.

6. How do you find the time to set up a tour?

Conducting a book signing is like presenting a play. There
are several roles-the author designs the tour (venues and
dates), prepares a mini-seminar, discussion, or speech, and
does the signing. The support staff makes the contacts and
provides publicity material, orchestrates the travel
details, and does the follow-up to be certain that
everything is synchronized. A separate person or company may
be involved in the publicity effort, depending on the
expertise of the support staff.

7. Assuming that you have had “no shows,” what’s the best
book signing event you have ever held?

It is seldom that a “no show” occurs. The best book signing
event I have had was at a large Barnes and Noble bookstore
in El Paso, TX, where I signed “Take Charge of Your Life.”
The event was preceded by interviews on three television
shows (affiliates of national networks) and a radio
interview. The El Paso Times newspaper published an article
about the book on the day of the signing. It was on the
front page of the “Living” section with a color photo of the
book cover. That evening, after the bookstore staff brought
all the chairs in the store into the presentation section,
people were standing along the sides. Most of the audience
stood in line long after the presentation to talk with me
and get their books autographed. You, too, can have such
events. We can help you.

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