Whether your book is a nonfiction marketing tool for your brand or business, or the newest release in your writing career, staging book signings can help build your audience.
It’s an age-old practice that has changed – as with almost everything in the publishing industry – due to social media and other online tools. Not only do platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ make it easier to promote your signing, they also provide new opportunities for maximizing the return on your investment.
Book signings, which can include an informative or interesting presentation or demonstration, have always held more value than meets the eye. Here are three benefits that may not have occurred to you:
- They get your book into shops that might not otherwise carry it. Bookstores are choosy; their numbers are declining (there were reportedly 10,200 nationwide in 2011) and they have many books from which to choose – more than 730,000 new titles a year, including traditionally and self-published print and e-books.
- The store may create a special display featuring your book – especially if you ask! If that happens, you just got valuable free merchandising.
- The store will likely promote your book signing, including sending announcements of the event to its customers and local publications. Anything the store does in that regard is also great marketing for you!
While it’s nice if the store promotes your book signing, you owe it to the shop and yourself to do all you can as well. The more people who come to the event, the more books you sell and the more likely the store will invite you back again. This is where social media can help.
Here are some tips for spreading the word online:
- Get into local social media groups and “communities” that are built around shared interests relevant to your book. For instance, if you were doing a book signing in the Tampa area for a marketing book, you could join LinkedIn’s Tampa Bay Marketing Professionals group. (Do not simply start announcing your event though!) Instead …
- Share a short article with useful information that links back to your website, where the event announcement is prominently displayed with details about your valuable presentation.
- Join in a conversation on any of the platforms, or start a new one, and casually mention along the way that you’ll be in that city speaking and signing books.
- For groups on any of the large social platforms, let the group’s manager or administrator know you have an event coming up that will be of interest to his/her members and ask if he’ll share that information or allow you to.
- Buy ads – for very little money! – on LinkedIn or Facebook announcing your event.
- On LinkedIn, click the “Promotions” tab near the top of the group’s page and you’ll be taken to another page where promoting to that group is welcomed.
- During your event, be sure to have someone take photos that you can share on your social media networks. Photos of you engaging with readers or enthusiastically giving a presentation not only give you more visibility, they make your event look like fun!
One last word of advice: Don’t get discouraged if throngs of fans don’t turn out – believe me, it happens to even well-known authors! Instead, remember all that you’ve accomplished simply by arranging the event.
If traffic is slow, you can make good use of your time by introducing yourself to some of the shop staff and engaging them in conversation. They just might remember the friendly author they chatted with the next time they’re asked for a book recommendation.