Guest Blogger: Derek Clendening
I like doing book store signings. Some authors aren’t so crazy about it, but I can see the upside. From my own experience, I can see that it’s an art and not a science. There’s more to it than sitting at a table with a puppy dog expression as customers stroll by. Here are some tips that have helped me:
Start early. This means arriving a little earlier still if you have to set anything up. I find that I can get a quick sale or two before I’m even slated to begin the signing. This has happened at the vast majority of signings I’ve done. I don’t have an explanation for it, per se, except maybe that customers are heading to or from lunch and the store (if it’s in a mall) is busier because of it.
Let the customer come to you. Some authors might feel compelled to begin their pitch when the customer’s interest is tepid at best or absent at worst. Resist the urge at all costs. If they stop at your table and begin flipping through a book, you might drop a line or two about the book, or anything you feel might be interesting. Just be careful not to employ too much pressure. Nothing will scare the customer off faster.
Gear your pitch towards female customers. At the risk of sounding sexist, I’ve found that women are far more generous than men, and much more willing to take a chance on an unfamiliar author. That isn’t to say that men haven’t been kind to me. They have. Still, the odds are far more in favour of the female of the couple taking a chance on you. Make sure you speak to her directly and with all the reasons why she might like your book.
Interpret language. Sometimes when a customer says something that sounds promising, it isn’t. If you hear the phrases, “I’ll think about it” or “I’ll be back in twenty minutes to buy it” you won’t see that customer again. Don’t be discouraged. It’ll happen a lot. Focus your energy on other customers.
Hang in there until the bitter end. Trends can be found in book store signings, but you can’t predict what will happen, or when the customer who would just love to have your book will turn up. More than once I’ve made a number of sales within the last five minutes of the signing. So, if your signing is supposed to run until four in the afternoon, make sure you’re at your table right until the end.
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