I’ve been looking forward to doing a book signing since I first saw my sci-fi romance novel, Dark Awakening in print. After all, a successful book signing comes with increased popularity and even more book sales, right?

Not so fast.

While it’s certainly true that a book signing can help increase your book exposure and reach, the likelihood that you will walk away having sold hundreds of books is something best relegated to a scene from “Field of Dreams”.

Regardless, securing a book tour or book signing is largely a rite of passage among authors and one that many aspiring new romance writers strive to achieve. But, with a little bit of planning, some hard-earned leg work and a little bit of luck, you can be on your way.

Here are some effective tips you can use to help secure that coveted seat at the folding table:

Collect reviews of your books

Use the Internet, particularly Facebook and Twitter, to solicit and collect reviews. Most book store owners (both big box stores like Barnes & Noble and local book stores) generally ask to see reviews. After all, they are looking for a way to measure popularity, interest and reader sentiment. Calling attention to your book reviews is a good way to garner attention from bookstore managers who may take an interest in your romance novel. To secure my first book signing, I used reviews of Dark Awakening on Amazon, as well as reviews gleaned through my social media accounts and website.

Concentrate on your home turf

Reaching out to local book stores and focusing on your own community may be an easier entry point to kick-start your book signing tour, especially if you’ve developed relationships with local store owners and others in the community. Local bookstores are generally eager to work with local authors in promoting their work, so be sure to leave no stone unturned when compiling your list of potential stores. Once you have penetrated your local community, it will be easier for you to venture on to other states…hello Hawaii!

Barnes & Noble, Dark Awakening book signing location, Lahaina, HI
Lahaina, HI location for Dark Awakening’s first book signing.

Gather information and make early contact

The Internet is a very special and useful tool for gathering leads – use them effectively. Search for addresses, manager’s names and bookstore names of the area of your choice and start from there. If the bookstore has an online ordering system, be sure to check and see if your book is available.

Once you have obtained a lead, call and ask for the manager right away. Give a polite introduction of yourself, and your book; if you are based locally, don’t forget to include that information when you talk with the manager.  Explain that your book is already listed on the system and provide your ISBN for proof. Once you’ve confirmed they have your book, go straight to the point by mentioning that you would like to hold a book signing event in their bookstore. Bookstore managers are usually open for these events as they can generate traffic and offer further visibility of the store.

Once you have secured the agreement, ask the manager how many of your books should he/she order in time for the book signing event. Generally, bookstore managers will order 10-12 copies depending on when your book signing is scheduled and how many they feel they can sell. If your publisher does not allow returns, be prepared to purchase any remaining books. Ask if you can purchase these extras at cost. You can then use them in additional promotions later on.

Give yourself an allowance of 1-2 weeks before the event so you have ample time to ship any supplies or books you may need.

Prepare for the big day

Unless the bookstore provides fliers and visual aids for you, be sure to bring your own to announce the big day. Get creative and think of ways to drive engagement and interest in your book during the event. Several weeks prior to the event, take to social media to help drive traffic to their store location. Be sure to review the bookstore’s online presence and ask them to highlight the event on their website if they have a special events section. You may also want to have a poster or an easel available for you at the bookstore – this will create visual attraction and signal that you are actually there to sign books. Flowers, candy, and bookmarks are all good to have on hand. Not only do they provide a pleasant visual layout, but also help drive engagement with potential readers.writing Dark Awakening

Once you’ve completed your book signing, take inventory of what’s left. If there are any remaining books after the signing, ask the manager what they would like to do with them. If the store purchased, and they do not want to return, offer to sign the copies and leave at the store. If you’ve purchased the books, offer to leave a signed copy with the manager.

Finally, document the signing by taking a picture or two with the bookstore, the manager and the staff. These pictures can be used for their marketing efforts as well as your own. This way, you can have higher publicity by being featured and at the same time bring greater visibility to the bookstore.

Securing your first book signing is never easy, but with a little bit of leg work, some out-of-the-box thinking, and some careful preparation you could be meeting some new faces and visiting some exciting new locations. What’s worked for you? Drop me a line below and let me know!