To some, being successful means selling tons of paperbacks, signing them and seeing someone reading them on public transport. To others, just having someone purchase a single paperback book is enough. But, to get those books in the hands of your readers, you're going to need some free and easy steps to arrange a book signing of your own.
Find A Venue
You've written and published your novel and you're looking for somewhere to set up and sell them. Most large book shops or chain stores won't take a chance on an indie author or may not be able to accommodate you, but local bookshops and libraries might.
Some libraries aren't doing great at the moment, and it's probably because of e-book sales and online retailers or a lack of funding. My local library is run entirely by volunteers on money they raise via book sales, donations etc., so you can imagine how hard they work! Think about your local library. Are you guilty of neglecting it? You're an author, so it's important to build a relationship with like-minded people and library staff are, of course, on that list.
But you're probably asking yourself why all this matters...
This event is not just about you and your books.
It should be about the venue and those hosting you. How can you make this event matter as much to them as it does you? What can YOU do for THEM? How can you help them to raise funds and draw people in?
Fundraising - when you set up your book signing, have a 'donations' pot, or donate a percentage of your royalties that day to the library. If you're selling merchandise, for every £1 you make, donate 20p and advertise this to encourage your readers to help. More sales for you. More donations for the library. If your venue is a shop or store, they will likely take 30-40% of the royalties for each book too.
Advertising - advertise months in advance. Set up blog tours and inform local media by writing a press release. Tell them what you're doing at the library and why local media coverage will help. The more people who turn up and the more coverage, the better the above fundraising idea will work. If your venue is a bookshop, set up an event on social media and connect to their platform/s to attract their frequent customers.
Donating - donate a signed paperback to the library or give them a few to sell on as and when they deem fit. Those funds can be used to support what goes on behind the scenes there. If your venue is a shop, gift a copy to the owner. You should leave a supply of books with them to sell following the event (with their permission). Be sure to agree on the arrangements and their royalty cut beforehand, such as 'sale or return'.
Participating - can you offer your spare time for future events to help the volunteers at the library and ease the pressure? Alternatively, can you attend their other events as a guest to show your support? If your venue is a shop, be sure to visit and buy from them frequently.
You need to write up an event proposal to explain what you want to do, how much it will cost and the benefits for both sides. The benefits to the venue should outweigh the benefits to you, and you need to be as approachable and present as possible.
Provide contact details, but if you can, arrange this in person rather than by email. Look presentable, take your books and provide a copy of the proposal for them to keep and look over. Remember, they may not be able to decide immediately so make a memorable, positive first impression.
What should you write in an event proposal?
A professional header with your name and contact details.
The date and time of the proposed event and how long you will need to use the venue for.
How much the event will cost the venue? Hopefully nothing!
What actually is the event? What's going to happen and why?
Why their venue?
Benefits to the venue.
Benefits to the author.
How will you market it? Will you notify local media and will there be any special guests etc.?
A thank you and a reminder of your contact details.
Sign it and hand deliver it, or post it if you don't live locally and follow up with a phone call or email.
What should a proposal it look like?
Use segments or headers, black size 12 Times New Roman font with aligned edges. If you need to use fancy text for your header, be sure it reads clearly and avoid hard-to-see colours.
You need to attract people to the event. You can use other local events to advertise your book signing, for example near-by literature festivals, carnivals, markets etc and if you're writing a suitable genre, be sure to tell them it's family-friendly.
Set up a Facebook event and invite your friends - get them to share it.
Advertise on social media platforms with a digital leaflet and use # (hashtags) to expand your reach.
Approach bloggers in your area and ask if they would be interested in a guest post around that time.
Word of mouth
Print leaflets and ask if local businesses will put them on noticeboards.
Provide the venue with marketing material such as leaflets, posters, bookmarks etc.
Have freebies or giveaways handy.
Notify/invite local public figures or celebrities via social media.
Write to a newspaper.
Write to a magazine.
Inform local travel and event websites or companies who can inform their followers of ideal 'days out' in their area.
Put it on your website. You can use a countdown clock and Google Maps to make this more attractive.
Talk about it on a podcast, vlog, blog or in an interview.
Add a second venue to increase interest and hype.
Check in and chase a response
Don't be afraid to check in with your venue to update them with who will be attending and of any media coverage. You can ask them to let you know of ideas they may have, but may not be able to action. Be friendly and accommodating, but be professional.
If you don't get a reply, send a polite reminder or pick up the phone. It is always better to attend in person.
Dear (VENUE MANAGER'S NAME)
I would just like to check you safely received my email/letter about the event I am hoping to host on (date/ time). I have re-attached the details for your convenience and would be pleased to speak to you in person or over the phone at a suitable time. I can be contacted on (telephone number).
Thank you again and I look forward to hearing from you.
Overall, be enthusiastic!
Good luck—enjoy your event!
Rachael Hardcastle is an Amazon international #1 bestselling author from Bradford, UK. She is the founder of Curious Cat Books (est. 2017), but is also a trained copy-editor and a publishing coach with a diploma in Successful Self Publishing and a university-level Business qualification.
She has been writing for over 10 years—first published at the age of 18—is the author of five successful novels and co-author to her first children's book, Bluetooth & the World Wide Web (2019).
Rachael keeps a regular monthly journal on her website www.erachaelhardcastle.com and, alongside the authors signed to her company, shares their events and adventures with her readers.
"Can I convince you to give my brand new publishing guide, 'The Universe Doesn't Give A Sh*t About Your Book: A Brutally Honest Guide to Self-Publishing' a browse?"