I recently had a book signing at a Barnes & Noble which was a first for me. I’ve attended other signings and book events and I think I had an epiphany at this one. Going into it, I knew it was going to be tough. In a short amount of time, I had to try and move X amount of books. In this case, it was 15 books in four hours. Why did I feel the need to move ALL the books? Well because since I’m working with a small press, and the books were marked as returnable, Barnes & Noble had the option to return any unsold books back to the publisher which would, in turn, end up costing the publisher money. So before I even left the house I had it in my mind that I was going to move as many books as possible, which brings me to my first guideline to success: confidence.
You need to be confident in your product. If you don’t believe in what you’ve written, it will show in how you interact with customers. Your book is good. You wrote it well. People will like it. You need to have your elevator pitch down pat so when people ask what the book is about you have a clear and concise answer for them. It’s important that you answer is short and to the point too, narrow your story down to a couple of sentences and use it. This also will show that you are confident in what you’ve done. When people asked me what my book was about, I said the following: It’s about a guy who’s hunting in the Utah wilderness with his friends when the demonic apocalypse happens and he’s trying to get back home to his family. Sure there’s a lot more happening, but that’s the main theme of the story.
The second guideline or rule I made for myself was to only sit when I was actually signing a book. I stood the entire time and was active. I think it made me more visible to people and kept me from getting distracted with my phone which goes right into my next guideline: don’t play on your phone when people are around. You need to be approachable and engaged and tinkering with your phone accomplishes none of those goals. Along the lines of being approachable, I decided to not cross my arms in front of my chest if I could help it. It's an aggressive and off-putting stance so I did everything else I could. Sometimes I would catch myself and have to actively unfold my arms.
The next guideline I made was to actively engage everyone who came near my table. I said hello, how are you doing, or tried to make small talk on anything I could think of. One person was wearing a Star Wars shirt so I asked them what their favorite Star Wars movie was and we talked about that for a minute. Another dude had an awesome beard so I complimented him on it. People like to talk about what they are into and like to be complimented, so it was a way to engage them in conversation and get them talking in the hopes that they would then want to ask me about my book. However, you have to be sincere. People will be able to see through an act, so be genuine and only engage in topics that you’re interested in.
I’m not an extroverted person by any means and I had to push outside my comfort zone to make this happen; however, I sold every book Barnes & Noble had ordered. The staff was very impressed with how aggressive and successful I was, stating that a lot of first-time authors only sell a couple copies because they’ll sit there at their table and wait for people to come to them. If you want to be successful, you need to almost slap people in the face with your book. A lot of times they don’t want to come to you because they are also shy or introverted, so it takes that extra nudge to start the conversation. However, the majority of my sales that day were because I got them talking and had a chance to pitch my novel. It was exhausting and by the end of the day I just wanted to curl up in a ball in a dark room, but it worked and I made a good enough impression that they wanted me to come back and do a launch party for my second book (coming in December). Now the real test will be to see if this works again because I have another book signing at a different Barnes & Noble next Saturday. #writerproblems