Since a number of Seekerville writers are newly published or close to publication, I thought I’d offer advice on how a book signing can be a win-win for everyone involved.
Ever ask published authors what they think about book signings? They probably groaned and mentioned sitting for hours as people passed by, trying to avoid eye contact lest they have to buy a book.
Fortunately, that doesn’t happen at Omega Book Center in Peachtree City, Georgia. Karen Duncan owns the independent book store in town and has a gift for making everyone feel at home.
Her biggest competition is a glitzy Books-A-Million located just a few miles away in a larger, more upscale shopping area, but folks -- at least the folks who like to read -- know Karen provides not only a vast assortment of books to buy but also suggestions about new authors and new reads specially geared to interest her customers. That’s a service you don’t find at the larger chain book stores.
Lesson #1: Find an independent bookseller in your local area.
|Debby with bookseller Karen Duncan|
Lesson #2: The local bookseller is an author’s best friend.
Karen knows when people enter her store looking for one book, they usually leave with two or three in hand, and that’s good for business. Plus, readers enjoy meeting authors so she's always eager to host events and scheduled my first signing long in advance of the release of NOWHERE TO HIDE, in 2007.
I have to admit feeling a bit awkward about asking folks to buy my book for that first signing. After all, I’m a writer, not a salesman. I didn’t want the event to be about me, but about the community that had supported me and my family over the years.
Lesson #3: Find a way to give back.
I was amazed at the number of people who attended the event. A long line quickly formed, and a steady stream of readers mingled in the store as they waited patiently to buy my book. Some folks pulled out their checkbooks and made personal donations. Others bought multiple copies of my book to give to friends and to also help Tracy.
|Tracy's mom accepts a donation from Debby.|
|Debby donates book to soldiers going to Iraq.|
A few days later, I took the cases of books to the Atlanta airport and gave them to Hartsfield’s military liaison. He, in turn, passed them out to the soldiers boarding flights to the Middle East. The books provided reading material on the long flight, and I'm sure the handwritten thanks lifted the spirits of the soldiers heading off to war.
|Pat Rosenbach, left, holds a photo of her friend, Eva.|
|Kathy McMullin started Embracing Military Families to help the children of deployed soldiers.|
CHRISTMAS PERIL, featuring my novella YULE DIE, came out in December 2009 and benefited Embracing Military Families, an organization that provides Christmas toys to children of service members stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, who are deployed to the Middle East.
I’m signing THE OFFICER’S SECRET tomorrow night at Omega Book Center and donating the proceeds to Bridget O’Connell, a nine-year-old with end-stage kidney disease. Bridget is on the National Transplant Registry awaiting a kidney and needs financial help to make that operation possible.
In hopes of drawing a good crowd, I mailed 200 postcards to local readers and submitted press releases to newspapers and radio stations. In addition, I’ve mentioned Bridget on a number of blogs. My hope is that people will open their hearts and their checkbooks to this adorable fourth grader who wants to be a chef when she grows up.
Lesson #4: Publicity helps the writer, the charity and the bookseller.
Omega Book Store is taking phone orders for THE OFFICER’S SECRET and promises to ship the book anywhere in the U.S. Call 770-487-3977 to order your autographed copy and help Bridget. To donate to her tax-exempt medical fund, go to the NTAF Southeast Kidney Transplant Fund and type in Bridget O’Connell.
Tomorrow will be a fun night. Karen always provides refreshments, and I’ll have a drawing for a military-themed gift basket. Wish you could be there.
Share the ways you give back or ideas to turn a ho-hum book signing into a win-win event for all. Leave your email address to enter today’s drawing! I’m giving away 5 copies of THE OFFICER’S SECRET.