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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm trying to nail down a good place to do a physical book signing. Yes, I have ebooks. But I'm also going through a POD publisher (CreateSpace) to have physical copies of my book. I make more on those, anyway, so it just makes sense that I'd want to sell those, right?

Anyway, I'm having a problem thinking of a place to partner with to do it. I tried the local library system, trying to encourage reading, etc. etc. But apparently they don't do that any more (at least not outside of a major publisher.) They flat out told me that they don't help independent authors promote their works.

I've contacted a local bookstore (a mom-and-pop place, not something like B&N). The owner of that place said she'd call me back... Still waiting.

Any other ideas? I thought about seeing if my favorite little mexican food place would like to do something to help drum up business. Still debating on that idea.

If you guys have had success at anything like this, or just want to throw your two cents in, I'd be glad to hear it.

--Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I'm also toying with the idea of a virtual book signing... having 4x6 "covers" made of the cover art, and mailing those to anyone who shows up to an online event, i.e. facebook chat or something. Still cant figure out how that would work. Also fishing for ideas there. Anyone got any?

A second idea: Maybe join forces with like authors (people in the same genre) and do a group online chat promo. Too wonky??
 
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It is not, nor has it ever been, the job of a library to help people promote books.  Libraries exist for the benefit of their communities.  When they do invite an author to speak or whatever, it is not to promote the author but because the community has expressed interest.

A better tack would be to see if they will let you rent (or use for free) space in the library to host a discussion.  What are you an ‘expert” on?  For example, you could hold a discussion on how to publish to Kindle.  The library would be more open to that, because it would be a subject that would actually attract people to come to the library. 

Bookstores are only going to be interested in hosting author book signings for books they actually stock AND authors who will attract readers into the store.  Again, it is not the job of a bookstore to promote you.  It is the job of a bookstore to get people into the store.  Unless you can present to the bookstore a plan to attract people to them, they can’t be bothered.

That said, look into local book fairs and conventions.  These are excellent places to sell because these are captive audiences that specifically go to shop.  I have always had very good luck with these sorts of events.  Folks who attend these events don’t care indie versus trad…they just like to meet authors. 

What I normally do is:

Have 20 books per title plus 1 book for every 20 people expected to attend the event.  So if the event normally attracts 500 people, you have 45 books. 

Do not put the entire inventory on the table at once, and do not have even stacks of books on the table.  You want the table to look “full” but not untouched.  Uneven stacks gives the impression of sold books. 

Have a bowl of candy on the table.  Seriously.  It is like a magnet.  People stop instinctively to grab a piece, and then feel obligated to at least look.  And when people see other people milling around your table, it again triggers a visual cue that something interesting is there. (I suggest sugar-free hard candies if it is an outdoor event because chocolate melts). 

Have a prize.  Give away raffle tickets to each person that stops at the table, and at the end of the day you hold a drawing for the prize.  Generally, I make a small prize basket with swag I produce using Cafepress.com.  Make sure you tell the event coordinators you are doing the giveaway, as often they will announce it for you. 

Use special pricing that is a round number.  Round numbers are easier to deal with.  If the print book normally sells for $14.99, offer it for $10.  If you are responsible for sales tax, set the price at a number that includes the tax already to make life easy.  For example, with NJ 7% sales tax, I would use a price of $9.35 + .65 tax = $10.  The easier you make it for people to pay, the more likely they open their wallets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
First, let me say... Yeah. I know that about libraries and such. I just figured it was worth a shot. =) Can't blame a guy for askin', right? I'm so new to this that I just don't know where to go, so I'm fishing for anything.

Secondly, I could hug you right now! That was some awesome, detailed, incredible advice, which I will take to heart and file away forever. I really appreciate everyone like you on KB willing to help us newbies get our act together.

Thanks again for the advice, and consider yourself aptly hugged!!
 

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Do a search for local events.  Some places will have book fairs or signings set up already.  They do fill up though, so if there are some later in the year, sign up early.  Our Ren Fair has an Author's Pavilion at no cost to the authors, so I attend both the fall and spring fairs.
Not all libraries are against having book signings for indie authors.  I did one down in Oklahoma, and they are wanting me to come back with the second book.  I had a blast when I did it.  I think the libraries in the smaller towns are more open to it than the ones in the bigger cities.  Good luck!
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
A better tack would be to see if they will let you rent (or use for free) space in the library to host a discussion. What are you an 'expert" on? For example, you could hold a discussion on how to publish to Kindle. The library would be more open to that, because it would be a subject that would actually attract people to come to the library.
This. Many libraries will be open to hosting a discussion or seminar on a topic of interest, nad they likely wouldn't be opposed to you selling your books at the event, as long as the draw is the topic of discussion.

I'm going to be speaking to a local library's "teen writers club" in a couple of weeks. I'm really excited, because I write YA, and it will be a lot of fun to speak to a group of kids who love to write. Needless to say, I'll bring several copies of the book along, just in case. I don't necessarily expect any of them to buy it (nor do I expect they'll have read it ahead of time), but if they're so inspired to read my book after hearing me speak, I'll certainly make it easy for them to do so. ;) But the idea behind this event is more about doing something for the commuity than doing something for myself.
 

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jhanel said:
Anyway, I'm having a problem thinking of a place to partner with to do it. I tried the local library system, trying to encourage reading, etc. etc. But apparently they don't do that any more (at least not outside of a major publisher.) They flat out told me that they don't help independent authors promote their works.
For your local library see if there is a writing group in the area. Here is NJ we go to a variety of libraries as joint group signings and talks as part of the Garden State Horror Writers (gshw.net) and the NJ Authors Network.
 

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Several places to consider for book readings/signings:

Check with the College Foundation at local community colleges.  I work at a community college, and I am doing a book reading on June 23 at the college, sponsored by the Foundation.  Does your job support your book?  That would be a great place to do a reading.

Also check with local colleges and universities to do book readings.  Many are open to bringing authors to campus.

I am also giving a book reading at two family reunions.  Family is a great way to spread the word about your books.

Also consider church functions to do a book reading--especially if your book has a religious connection in it.  One of my short stories deals with a church woman who is trying to convert a bootlegger.  I can make the theme fit for the church envronment.

Katrina
 

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This is a great discussion... I've been killing myself lately trying to think of things to do too.  I really wish there was a way to sell ebooks in person too...

Oh, which would be a much bigger event, would be to try and get a group of indie and small press authors in the same area together... rent out a space and have like a small convention type thing. 

But the ideas flowing around here are great... I've been taking notes! :)

-jb 8)
 

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I hadn't thought of the candy idea - that's awesome, and I'll definitely be using that. Just have to get candy I don't like, or I'd eat it all. lol

I rented a table at Comicpalooza in Artist's Alley this year. Cost me $145 + my time (and the hotel room and food).

I sold 70 copies of my book in a package deal (book, ebook and print of the cover art) and lost money overall.

But I gave away nearly 300 bookmarks and promos, talked to well over 500 people or more, hosted a panel (all by myself when the other author didn't show) and most importantly: got my name out there.

I cannot tell you how important and impactful this was for me. I cannot recommend this sort of thing highly enough. I've got two more conventions in the next month, and I expect to do even better numbers (and at least break even) at those, especially considering one is a writer's convention.
 
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Jason Kristopher said:
I sold 70 copies of my book in a package deal (book, ebook and print of the cover art) and lost money overall.

But I gave away nearly 300 bookmarks and promos, talked to well over 500 people or more, hosted a panel (all by myself when the other author didn't show) and most importantly: got my name out there.
Yes, this is a great point. Too often, indies expect an immediate "sales result" from any marketing. More often than not, any single marketing activity does not result in an immediate break even or "profit." I almost ALWAYS lose money at cons when you add in the cost of table, time, food, lodging, etc (er, not including what I spend on books and gizmos myself while attending!). But, I pick up loyal customers who will buy the next book...and the next...and the next...
 

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Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
Yes, this is a great point. Too often, indies expect an immediate "sales result" from any marketing. More often than not, any single marketing activity does not result in an immediate break even or "profit." I almost ALWAYS lose money at cons when you add in the cost of table, time, food, lodging, etc (er, not including what I spend on books and gizmos myself while attending!). But, I pick up loyal customers who will buy the next book...and the next...and the next...
Is there some sort of "master list" of conventions? I see a few here and there but it seems there are SO many more than I know of.

-jb 8)
 

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My experience with events:

I've done many library book talks over the last 15 years, but always on my nonfiction books, and always because the book was of local interest. I have noticed that libraries in smaller communities can be more open to author talks than those in larger cities.

About conventions: everyone is right. You may or may not sell that much, but you do get your name out. At the moment I'm leaning more towards having a table in any dealers' room than being a guest. But I'm used to doing train shows, and the only way to sell RR books at shows is to have a table.

Keep an eye out for book festivals in your state.

Bookstore signings can be hit or miss. One store in Kansas holds an "author extravaganza" every year, getting in up to 50 authors. It is as much about networking as selling books, but it's an opportunity all the same. You might ask a store if they'd be interested in several authors coming at the same time.

Think outside the box, too. This year I became a member of the Kansas Originals Market, which allows me to have my books in their stores. I also took part in their annual author day. Look around for places that might be interested in your book and ask. After all, the worst that can happen is they say "No."
 
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