Apr 12th, 2013 by AJ Best
If you’re tired of hearing “no” every time you try and secure a book signing, take heart. Signings have become a lot more challenging since more books than ever are being published each year and stores are cutting back on events. What’s an author to do? If you’re hungry for an event and not willing to wade through the endless submission process of a bookstore, consider doing events in non-bookstore markets.
What’s a non-bookstore event? Well, obviously it’s anything outside of a bookstore but more than that, it’s a unique location, likely in your city or town. We’ve done events at video stores, electronics stores, grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops, even Hallmark stores. When you start to dig into this market, the possibilities are really endless. It’s just a matter of finding a place that will make sense to host your event.
Picking the Right Venue
The first piece of this is picking the right venue. The venue can depend on a few things; first, you might look at the topic of your book to help generate some ideas. We once had an author who wrote a book on wine/movie pairings – pairing the right wine with a movie. I placed this author in a Blockbuster Video and the results were tremendous. I had another author with a computer book and I placed him at a computer store on a busy Saturday afternoon. He sold out of some 65 copies of his book in one afternoon. Another great venue is a Hallmark or some other gift shop. Why? Because people are going to a gift shop or Hallmark for one thing: a gift. Autographed books make great gifts.
Selling the Idea to the Venue
This will take a bit of work because it’s likely that the venue has never even entertained the idea of doing an event, let alone an author signing. You’ll need to make sure they are clear on the WIIFM (what’s in it for me): tell them you’ll be promoting the event, marketing it to the media (which we’ll cover further on in this article). Make sure they know that you’ll handle the book orders (meaning getting the books to the store) if need be. Yes, there is a lot more legwork involved for these events, but the payoff is huge. You may have to sell the books to them on consignment; what that means is that they take the books and can return to you whatever they don’t sell. Encourage the venue, however, to keep a stock in their store after the event in case people come by when you’re gone. I’ve done this before, and nine times out of ten the books never get returned to the author and are sold instead. Also, in many cases the store will often reorder and before you know it, you’re part of their inventory.
The other piece to this is to try, whenever you can, not to go through their corporate offices. Much like doing an event at Starbucks (which I’ve also done) and Hallmark, a pitch to corporate could take weeks and even months to approve. Most stores have the ability to approve from 3-5 events per year, meaning that they can have events at their store without having to go through the corporate offices. Most major corporations do this so that the stores can provide community support without getting bogged down in tedious paperwork for event approval. If you can avoid the red-tape of a corporate approval, do that whenever you can.
Selling the Books
As I mentioned, you will likely have to do a consignment. The inventory part for most major stores gets tricky, and if the books have to be approved for inventory, you’ll end up going through corporate again. More red tape. Try to work with the venue as much as you can so you don’t have to create an inventory of your books. The upside, however, is that if the inventory process is easy, you will be on their reorder list for the future!
Marketing the Event
This is the easy part, believe it or not. Local media loves local authors and while that’s a good foot in the door – the unique venue location will virtually seal the deal. Market yourself to media well in advance of the event and then again the event day. Also, if you’re doing an event in a mall, see if you can get the other stores to participate by doing bookmarks or bag stuffers. Bag stuffers, by the way, are a great way to help the store market your event. You could also do a custom bookmark. With printing so cheap these days, it might be easier to have event-specific bookmarks made up that you can give to the store to help them push the event to their patrons. Make sure you get the store OK first, before you hand them bag stuffers and bookmarks. Also ask if you can create a poster that includes your book cover and the event information. See if you can get a placement on the venue website and perhaps a notification sent to their mailing list. Unlike bookstores that crank out author events all the time, a unique venue that doesn’t see author events all that much will be much more receptive to promotional ideas.
More Venue Ideas
Once you take your eye off of the bookstore focus, the opportunities for book events are endless. Consider the following: street fairs, farmers markets, gyms, yoga studios, wineries, art stores, Starbucks, coffee shops, restaurants, grocery stores, airports. Yes, I said airports. I’ve traveled a great deal and almost every time I go through the San Diego airport, Dallas Fort Worth or San Francisco, I see an author signing their books. Look out for this: if you’re not paying attention you could miss it while rushing to catch your flight.
Other Benefits to Doing Non-Bookstore Events
The benefits of these types of events are pretty significant, especially if speaking and events are part of your marketing tool kit. Book events held in these exclusive markets will not only take you off the track of competing for space in a bookstore, but because they are unique they will draw much more attention both from the media and readers.
Having a traditional book signing is always great. It will help you get into the bookstore market and might even get your book on their shelf. But if bookstores aren’t open to an event, don’t let that discourage you from planning one. Being unique will not only help you gain more attention, but it will help to keep you out of the rejection funnel that often comes from competing in a high-traffic market. Also, venue events outside of bookstores are a fun way to build an audience, get your feet wet doing events and speaking and grow your career as an author!
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Instructor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of five books, including Book to Bestseller which has been called the “road map to publishing success.” AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically works with social networking sites, blogs, micro-blogs, ezines, video sites, and relevant sites to push an authors message into the virtual community and connect with sites related to the book’s topic, positioning the author in his or her market. To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free ezine, send a blank email to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright ã 2010 Penny C. Sansevieri
“What happens in Silver Creek, stays in Silver Creek.”
After spending the summer as a recluse due to a bad break-up, Nicole Saunders agrees to go to The Heat Wave Festival with her best friends, Kacey and Tyler.
Along with three other friends they plan to take a shortcut through the small town of Silver Creek; the last thing any of them expected was to become lost and end up pulling in to a motel for the night.
The Creek Motel is isolated and the last place Nicole wants to be, especially after meeting the glacial owner, but her discomfort is soon forgot as she finally gives in to her feelings and asks Kacey and Tyler to spend the night with her.
A decision she quickly regrets when she discovers that their friend has mysteriously disappeared from her locked room in the middle of the night. Worried, Nicole presumes the worst, but quickly discovers that Jayne’s disappearance is more disturbing than any of them could have guessed.
~ * ~
Friday, September 12th, 2014
We had lost the sun about two hours ago, the helpful lights of the other cars and the freeway about an hour after that.
We had all agreed to cut through the small town of Silver Creek in order to knock an hour off our journey—a decision I was beginning to regret.
My face had been practically glued to the window for the last half an hour as I tried to figure out where the night sky ended and the ground began. It was pitch black out there. Not the kind of night painted in a mixture of dark hues with the added color jumping out once in a while. This was total and complete darkness, the type that seemed to move with us. The half moon and clear blanket of stars above had become our only indication that we hadn’t just driven into a tunnel with no end.
The headlights of Kacey’s green camper van continued to guide us along the narrow road and further toward Silver Creek, which I still wasn’t sure if we had arrived in or not.
In the dim orange glow of the overhead light, I turned to look at Kacey. The blood had drained from his knuckles due to the grip he had on the steering wheel, and his plump lips were set in a firm line. He was pissed. I would even say livid. Which meant only one thing, we had gotten lost.
“Kay?” I said softly. “You might as well pull over.”
His eyes narrowed to slits. His focus stuck to the ongoing road. “No.”
“It’s pitch black. There are no lights anywhere. No sign of life. Pull over, and let’s all spend the night in the van. We can set off early tomorrow, when we can actually see, and figure out where the hell we are exactly.”
He may have been a mechanic, but puncturing a tire or crashing into a tree was the last thing any of us needed.
“There’s a Motel.”
I looked at the surrounding darkness with wide eyes. “I don’t see one.”
He turned the GPS we had attached to the dashboard toward me, and pointed at a small blue square. “It should be here somewhere.”
I stared at the small screen and then back out the front window. Who the hell would put a motel out here? Then again, I suppose if it’s a small trade town, and people did cut through like we’re doing….
“There’s the fucker.” Kacey declared and put his foot on the gas.
The van jolted as we went over a bump in the road, and a groan came from the back. “What the hell, Kay?” I turned to see Tyler rubbing the back of his head, and looking at us through hooded lids. “Are we there yet?”
I shook my head. “We’re lost.”
“We’re not lost.” Kacey stated sharply. “I came down the right route. It’s just fucking taking forever because I have to go at a tortoise pace because some stupid asshole didn’t think about putting up lights on this shitty back road.”
Tyler yawned. “So, we’re lost?”
Kacey growled. “We’ll stop here and set off in the morning.”
I looked back out at the road and watched the speck of light that had suddenly emerged from nowhere, growing bigger and bigger, and finally forming in to a readable size and shape.
The tall sign to the “Creek Motel” flickered in the on-going darkness. The faulty light to the isolated establishment appeared to be the only indication that actual people lived in the area. After an hour of nothing but darkness, the sight caused a pop of relief to tickle my stomach.
Kacey slowed and turned the van in to the small parking lot.
Apart from the two cars sitting along the front of the L-shaped building, the only other sign that the motel operated came from the dull light seeping through the curtains of a few rooms. The van filled with soft groans as Tyler woke up the others and Kacey maneuvered into a free space.
“Are you kidding me?” Disgust leaked in to Jayne’s sleep-filled voice.
Kacey scrubbed his hands down his face. “What did you expect, the Hilton?”
“I expected to be in a packed parking lot with tons of people, and lights and loud music.” She yawned. “Where are we?”
He cut the engine, and slid out of his seatbelt. “We’re stopping here for the night.”
“Where is here?”
“We’re in Silver Creek.”
“Yeah, which is just another name for we’re in the middle of fucking nowhere.”
Kacey twisted in his seat. “Look, it’s too dark. So we’re stopping here. We’ll set off in the morning and be at the festival in no time. Deal with it.”
Dry laughter scraped her throat. “You’re so grumpy. Jesus. It’s not my fault we had to set off at half past five. We should have set off tomorrow morning.”
Kacey popped his jaw, and slid a look at me. “I’ll go get us signed in, shall I?”
“I’ll come with you.” I pushed the door open, and climbed out of the van.
I pulled my jacket tightly around me as we made our way across the rough gravel ground toward the entrance. In the silence, I could hear each small gust of wind whipping around the solitary building.
I followed Kacey through the open doorway in to the dingy, snug reception, which had bare brick walls with old photographs lining them and a heavily worn and scratched wooden floor. Kacey hit the small brass bell sitting on the reception desk and we both stood looking at the closed office door.
~ * ~
Elizabeth lives in a small country village in Cheshire, England, with two cats. You will always find her on the computer, blasting music and writing away. She started life wanting to be an actress because she loved performing. She enjoyed nothing more than being able to make people laugh, to distract them from reality for a few hours. She studied Musical Theatre in college, but during her second year, her mind started to overflow with ideas for scripts and she began writing plays. Slowly over the following three years, she was writing more and more, channeling her imagination into more detailed manuscripts…
Here she is, years later, hiding away like a hermit, writing like crazy and loving every minute of it.
Where to find Elizabeth Online:
Blog: (Shared with Dianna Hardy): http://notjustastiffupperlip.blogspot.co.uk/
Cobblestone Publishing: http://www.cobblestone-press.com/catalog/author/elizabethmorgan.htm
Noble Romance Publishing: https://www.nobleromance.com/Authors/184/Elizabeth-Morgan
Secret Cravings Publishing: http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=products_all&filter_author=191
Manic Readers: http://www.manicreaders.com/ElizabethMorgan/
All Romance Ebooks: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/elizabeth-morgan
Jan 17th, 2013 by AJ Best
AJ wrote: “Betty Sullivan La Pierre tagged me in the 777 game, so here’s my contribution. According to him, the rules say the game works as follows: Go to page 7 or 77 of your current manuscript or novel. Count 7 lines down. Copy the following 7 lines into your FB status. Choose 7 more authors to tag. That’s more 7s than 777, but so what.
Here are my lines from my WIP Blue Rose Powell Night, a paranormal love gone awry.
As they got closer to the door Kendra saw a vehicle pull up to the loading area, “There’s my ride, I can take it from here.”
“Are you sure honey, I can take you all the way out.”
“No, I’m sure. You have to get back to Mr. Thomas any way.”
“That I do. I certainly hope you feel better soon. Take care.”
“You too.” And with those words the nurse was gone and Kendra was alone with her thoughts and a long walk to nowhere.
My tags will be: Kissa Starling, Suzanne Brandyn, Kathleen Tighe Ball, T.k. Toppin, Marilyn Blackman, Marguerite Arotin, and last and certainly not least Dawn Roberto. (If you’d like to see what my favorite author friends have to say, head to Facebook and like all their pages!