So you’re wondering if doing a book signing in 2012 is worth it to you. Well I can’t answer that but I can tell you that you definitely do not have to do book signings to be effective at selling books. In fact book signings are probably one of the worst promotional options right next to purchasing ads. There are tons of things you can do to promote your book that will get it in front of readers better than a book signing.
But, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do them. It’s up to you as an author and whether or not it’s worth it to you. Book signings aren’t worth it to every author but if you intend on doing them there are things you should know.
Book signings Do Not Sell Books
That’s right. So if you plan on doing them, don’t make selling books your priority because you will be disappointed at the end of the day. Book signings are for meeting and greeting readers (if you’re lucky enough to get them to talk to you) and make the most out of that face-to-face experience. But they are not the best way to sell books. And whether doing book signings gets the word out to people outside of the venture remains to be seen.
Have an Outgoing Personality Because You’re Gonna Need It
Look you’re not JK Rowling. You’re not even Harold Rowling from down the street. When your butt gets in that bookstore no one is gonna give a fig newton. You’ve gotta drive people to your table and hold them hostage some kind of way. So if you can’t turn on the charm most likely your book signing will be a bust.
I sense that this is why most authors end up just sitting behind a table for two hours, mean-mugging customers that pass them up. Who knows?
This is where that thick skin really comes in handy.
Book Signings Do Nothing for Long Term Sales
Even if you sell a book, that’s it. It’s in the past and there’s no record of it. This is why so many authors prefer online promotion. With the Internet you leave pieces of yourself everywhere. You can reach thousands of people from all over the world from a blog tour alone. So remember that if you do pursue book signings, don’t count on it bringing sales for the long-term.
Don’t Expect Your Publisher to Promote The Event
Don’t even waste time wondering if your publisher is gonna help out with promoting the event because they won’t. Those days are over. Some publishers might help but the majority will not. Some publishers won’t even book the signing for you. Most likely you will be completely on your own.
If Ya’ Broke, Don’t Go
I hate to see authors who don’t have a pot to pee in, using their money for signings and events. Look these things are a luxury. If you can afford them, fine but everyone isn’t able. Publishers used to pay for authors to appear at events but that’s not how it happens today. Book signings can be expensive if you plan on doing them out-of-town.
You’re better off promoting online and saving your money. No one expects you to starve to go to a book signing.
Bookstores are Dying Out
That’s a huge monkey wrench right there. The closing of Borders and a lot of indie stores was a horrible blow to the industry. It also limited places for authors to sign books. Don’t think you can just call up Barnes and Noble and book a signing like in the old days. No. Now you have to prove to them you’re worth the effort by promising a certain amount will show up before they even think of working with you. Some bookstores have stopped doing signings altogether or only allow them for very popular authors.
Ask Yourself: Do People Even Go to Book Signings in 2012?
When’s the last time you’ve heard of someone you knew saying they went to a signing? I mean in the last five years? I bet it’s not many and if you weren’t around the writing crowd it would be none at all. People aren’t going to book signings these days. Book signings can’t compete with all the other events out there today. And the people who go to book signings go to see the new author sensation, not the unknown with the debut novel. So really, really ask yourself how many people you know who go to book signings and weigh whether or not it’s really worth it.
I’ll be honest. I’m not a fan of book signings. I think they’re torture. I think festivals or signings where you are with other authors could be more beneficial.
The point is that you don’t have to break the bank or run yourself ragged going to book signings if that’s not what you wanna do. They don’t make or break your book. If you wanna do them and enjoy them, by all means do them. But authors should not feel they have to, especially in an age where it’s so hard to get people to participate.
What sparked this topic was an old blog post from Karin Bilich. Now mind you, she wrote the following post in September 2011. You can check it out below. I feel she was spot on back then so you can imagine how things have changed in almost a year.
What do you think? Are book signings still relevant? Do you feel there are other methods that are better at selling books?