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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday Spotlight: Valerie Patterson

Let me tell you about a surefire way to have a downright successful book signing.

I have two very dear friends--Sharon and Saundra--who wanted to celebrate my success as a writer. So they planned a book signing with a reception, coordinating it with a local library. My friends sent out nearly 100 postcard invitations to family and friends. They hung fliers and posters everywhere they could. The library arranged for press coverage as well as radio spots that played for 3 days prior to the event.

The invitations were a way to bring family and friends together while the posters, fliers, and radio spots brought in the community. Making the event a combination meet the author/book signing/reception just seemed to make it more of an event--so much more than an author sitting alone at a table in front of or inside a bookstore in the mall.

I had a blast! You couldn't have pried that smile off my face! It was there to stay, buddy! Aside from two great friends, excellent food, and loads of laughter, I sold books...lots of them! The event, which was scheduled for 12 to 2:30, actually got started before noon. As soon as people began arriving, we jumped into action. There was a steady stream of people solid for nearly 2 hours, after which it began to slow. There were several instances when it got backed up and groups of people pooled around the table. That's when my friend Saundra led them to the buffet table and made sure they had food and beverage. There were no complaints, no grousing, not a negative moment!

There even came a period where there was a question and answer session, which started innocently enough when one person asked how long it took me to write The Lincoln Room. I answered her and someone else asked a question, then someone else. So we just sort of put the signing on hold and I fielded questions. I love to talk about writing, so this was definitely a highlight for me.

It was great to see my family and friends support me, but it was also great to see perfect strangers come in and buy books, supporting a local author. There was a couple--an elderly couple--who were in town on other business, stopped by the library, saw the posters, and visited with me for a short time, buying both books, which I happily signed.

This was a fantastic event--a successful event--and the reason it was successful was because my two friends took so much care and time in coordinating it. If you're planning a book signing, please contact a library in the area where you live. Chances are they'll be thrilled to help you in any way they can in order to support a writer from the community. Plan ahead and make sure you have enough books on hand to handle the crowd. Send out invitations to family and friends. Make certain you have a built in 'fan' base and add to it with people from the community and surrounding communities.

Make it as casual and open and welcoming as possible. If there is a circle of people around you and there's laughter and excitement, then people nearby want to know what's going on and want to be a part of it. And you'll sell more books. Tons of books!

When it was all over, there was very little food and drink left. I was floating on a cloud! And the event was a huge success. It was so much better than appearing at a mall bookstore where a majority of the shoppers not only wouldn't know me, they wouldn't care that I have a book out.

Sharon and Saundra are actually busy planning the next event...a two-day affair that begins at another community library on a Saturday and ends with a bookstore signing on a Sunday afternoon. They'll still send out invitations. They'll plan on lots of incredible food, and they'll coordinate with the librarian and the bookstore owner/manager to get the word out.

This is a proven successful promotion. I hope the information helps one of my fellow authors have a successful event as well.


Lavada Dee said...

Hi Valerie,
I had some trouble trying to email the answers. But no troubl commenting to your blog post. Promotions aren't something I do well but this one sounds like a lot of fun.
Lavada DDD

Valerie J. Patterson said...

Hi Lavada! Listen, I've been having computer problems all day! Sorry to hear it spread to your corner of the world, too! Thanks for trying, and for leaving a comment!