What is the Hidden Value of a Book Signing?

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Bookstores are the meeting place of the 21st Century,” says Marcia Bliss of Bliss Connections in San Diego. In working with authors to help them promote their books, she cites numerous benefits of book signings:

  1. Book Sales (first and foremost)
  2. Gains local exposure for author
  3. Meet prospective book buyers
  4. Involves people in author’s worthy cause
  5. A chance to inspire and educate others
  6. An excellent tool for local publicity, and
  7. The opportunity to promote a seminar on the author’s topic.

But years of experience in working with authors has shown me that there are also tremendous “hidden values” in doing book signings that often have very little to do with the above or even with signing books! Unless, of course, the book is authored by a famous person whose fans are lined up ten deep to meet this celebrity and get his autograph.

But, for those thousands of authors whose names don’t inspire instant recognition, the value in booksignings may have more to do with the following:

  • Hidden Value #1 DISTRIBUTION IN EVERY MARKET! It’s a known fact that distribution is a problem for publishers of all sizes. The reason is simple – with over 300,000 new books coming out each year, bookstores have to be very selective about the inventory of titles they choose to keep on their shelves.But, when a bookstore agrees to schedule an author for a book signing, that store will automatically order a significant number of copies for the book signing event – forcing distribution into each market the author is doing a signing in!
  • Hidden Value #2 FREE ADVERTISING AND PROMOTION! As bookstores normally promote their book signing events through promotional mailings to their book buyers or through newspaper advertisements, your author becomes the beneficiary of the store’s advertising in every city he or she is touring.
  • Hidden Value #3 FREE MERCHANDISING THAT NORMALLY COSTS THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! Let’s face it – stores are highly motivated to promote book signings as these events are known to be a successful action for bringing people into bookstores and stimulating sales. Prior to a scheduled book signing, stores will often set up a prominent display of the author’s book along with other high quality promotional material provided by the publisher.
  • Hidden Value #4 WORD OF MOUTH PROMOTION! When authors are at booksignings they have the opportunity to meet all the sales people at the individual stores. Those authors smart enough to recognize the value of this opportunity will take the time to introduce themselves, shake hands, talk about their book and make each person feel very important (as they are!).Then, when asked about a book on the author’s topic, you can bet those sales people will recommend that author’s title, as it will no longer be just one of the thousands of titles sitting on the shelves!
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