Increasing your foot traffic has just gotten super easy. Now you can own any book signing event even when you’re NOT the featured author!
Yep, it’s that time of year again. Spring is just starting to give way to summer and with it comes a book signing or two, a couple of book festivals, quite a few book events and more book tours than you can count. All with readers looking forward to meeting their favorite authors and possibly new ones, it’s truly a great time of year to be an author.
Most author’s love a good book signing, they get to interact with the people who they wrote their book for, see fellow authors, and overall have a great time in the process. Unfortunately other authors dread anything remotely close to having a table at a book event. They claim a host of reasons why, but it always comes down to one major thing… they get LITTLE TO NO FOOT TRAFFIC!
Honestly it’s embarrassing to know who is exactly coming out to see you. And it’s always the usual suspects; family (those who can make it), friends (those who remembered), and coworkers (those who can’t wait to hate and talk bad about you at work on Monday). So in order to avoid it all, you don’t even bother attending not one single event, but yet you still have hopes of being a successful author. Sorry to be the barer of bad news, but news flash, EVERY successful author has attended more than their fair share of book signing events and now it’s time for you too.
And you know what they say right? If you fail to plan, then you can plan on failing. This thinking alone is what separates the super successful authors from those who’s just standing behind a table full of books, upset and trying not to show it with a forced smile.
Ok, ok, ok. No more worrying about foot traffic or lack there of, so please keep reading because I have you more than covered to generate as much foot traffic as you can handle. Now let’s go over a list of things that will at the least (yes, I did say least) triple your foot traffic at any book signing event:
Positioning: People who host book events for multiple authors usually have an early bird special when you get your table early for a discounted price. But their is a BIGGER (and way better) benefit than saving a few dollars when you get your table early; it’s called positioning. You want your table next to whomever the featured author is going to be. Depending just who the featured author is, will most times pull readers out of the wood work. Think Harper Hill, Brian W. Smith, Trice Hickman, Walter Mosley, and Reshonda Tate Billingsley to just name a few.
If you’re fortunate to have your table next to theirs do yourself a huge favor, don’t be nervous because they sit their butts in a chair to write their books just like you and it’s expected for you to benefit from their foot traffic. It’s the reason they’re the featured author (the draw) of the event. Just be respectfully professional and you’ll be fine.
And what if a book event doesn’t have a featured author of this magnitude? It’s ok, keep reading…
Get The Word Out Via Social Media: Drive readers via social media. Get the message out early and often. What authors usually do is post maybe two days before the event and think they have done more than enough marketing. Ah, no. You really need to be strategic about getting the word out (starting about two weeks from the event) and even consider running a few ads as well (do a little, ok do a lot of research before running ads). Now before you start thinking that’s not in your budget, you probably spend more on Starbucks and eating out for lunch every day than you would on a cost effective ad. You want success it comes with a bit of sacrifice, your call.
Of course you wouldn’t run any ad free or otherwise to the event alone, it would be towards to you (using your picture) and your location would be the event. And stop thinking that it’s the hosts job to market their event, you’re right it is, but it’s YOUR job to market YOURSELF and drive foot traffic directly to you.
Visiting Your Targeted Readers: Your readers like to eat, shop, hang out and believe it or not, socialize outside of social media. Why not go be social too? And no better time to be social is a few days before your book signing event. Let them know you’re having an event and would love for them to come out. Pass out as many flyers as you can and have a few books on hand for those who can’t make it, but would like to buy a book right at that moment. Now this only works if authors know EXACTLY who their target readers are (the number one reason authors don’t sell many books is failure to properly identify who their target market (reader) is. If you know who your readers are then you will know their likes and what they like to do. Trust me when I tell you that Nike knows exactly who their target market is for every style of shoe they have and where to find them at.
Unique Table Set Up: Ok here’s where you really need to stand out at. The usual author table set up consists of books, flyers, maybe flowers, and definitely candy. Some go as far as having huge standing banners next to their tables (that’s a great way to stand out by the way). Your job is to do this, but do it better or not do it at all. Let’s go with doing it not at all. Meaning do something so different that people can’t help but stop past your table. One great and easy trick to really stand out is doing something as simple as emitting good energy. Yep, good ol’ positivity wins every time. You can stand out more just by smiling, complimenting women on their hair and men on their shoes, asking them things that can segue back to your books, etc.
Whatever you decide to do to stand out when making your table unique, the one thing you CAN’T do is half ass it. It’s either full ass or no ass at all. People can sense when you aren’t genuine in your efforts to be different, so to stay true to you, just be who ever you are and amplify it by 100%. A close mouth never gets fed and it never sells books either.
Book Clubs: Use Facebook to locate and contact 15 to 20 book clubs that’s in the area of your book signing event and invite them all. Yep, every single one. Odds are all will not be able to attend, but for those who do, give them a FREE copy of your book as incentive to come out. And I already know what you’re thinking, give my book away? YES! First off to have a book club consider your book for the book of the month for their book club you’ll have to send one to them free anyway right? So look at it as saving postage and handling.
A great way to look at this economically is that if every book club representative that comes out averages at least seven club members excluding the one member you gave a free copy of your book to that’s seven potential sells to be made when your book is accepted as the book of the month for that book club. It also means 7 additional reviews on Amazon (or more sells and reviews depending if more than one book club picks your book to be the featured book of the month). See it’s not free, it’s all promotion that will lead to future sells and reviews at a later date.
Coupons, Discounts, & Freebies: If I could see your face now, frowning all up at the thought of giving or discounting all of your hard work away, but trust me it’s absolutely the last thing you are doing. Let’s look at this through the lens of marketing shall we? What you’re actually doing is setting yourself up to grow your readership, using incentives now, and converting readers into paying customers a very short while later. And out of all of the tactics to drive people to your author table, this by far is my favorite. Why? First off because it’s proven every day in all walks of life. Second it’s because many authors lose out by not adapting this concept into driving foot traffic to their tables.
Stores always use BOGO (buy one get one free), buy one get another for 50% off, etc. Some authors do this to a degree, but not to it’s full effectiveness. The more books you have, the more combinations you can entice your readers with. This marketing tactic is a little challenging to do if you have only written one book, but will still work if you have at least one physical book and novella compiled into a downloadable pdf (click the link for an example of a few short stories compiled into a downloadable pdf). The true beauty of making your readers free book a downloadable pdf in the buy one get one free offer is that if it’s set up to capture the readers email address via an email service provider then you are REALLY maximizing your book signing event.
We’ll talk about why gathering email addresses is so important in a bit, but lets use an example of how this free and discounted stuff will make attendees of the book event seek your table out. If you have kids (that’s of age of course) or an assistant, what you would is have them do position themselves at the book events entrance and hand out a coupons/flyers for your books that’s only redeemable that day. The coupons doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just who you are, the title of your books, and the deal you’re offering. Make sure that you have a sign on your table reflecting the same coupon so they know they’ve found you. Two things from using this marketing tactic will drive foot traffic your way; they don’t want to miss out on a deal (I mean who does right?) and plain ol’ curiosity. If you don’t do any of the advice in this blog to triple your foot traffic, make sure you do this one thing because it’s a proven winner. TRUST ME!
Authors If Your Only Goal Is To Sell Books At A Book Signing Event… YOU ARE LOSING OUT BIG TIME!!!
Emails: Earlier I spoke of why emails are so important to get from people who brought books at your event and here’s why: It allows you to continue the relationship you’ve already established long after the event is over. Have another book coming out soon and you need to let as many people know as possible, BINGO, you have an email list for that. Want fans to chime in which cover you should use for your next book as you give them two covers to choose from? Why not email them? You want to share a book excerpt to create anticipation and excitement? Hey I know, use that email list you have. The ONE danger you want to avoid is never try and sell your books to people on your list. Remember, the name of the game is ENGAGEMENT folks (if you don’t know, learn the difference between engaging your audience and selling to them). Engage people with what’s going on with your book and they will feel as though they are part of the process (because you included them in the decision making) so when the time comes for your book’s release date, you have ORGANICALLY BUILT UP ANTICIPATION which ALWAYS results in selling way more books. The two ways to capture a reader’s email address at a book signing event is either capturing it when they download their freebie book (I’m partial to Aweber) or simply having them write their first name only and best email address on a list that’s on your table. Either way, GET THAT EMAIL ADDRESS!
And if you’re thinking I could use social media to do what I’m advising you to do with your email list then please read on my friend…
Get Social Media Heavy: Social Media is great, but you don’t control it. Shocking I know, but it’s true. And since you aren’t in control, it would not be wise of you to use it as the only vehicle to get your marketing message out to your fans. Even paid ads can be hit or miss (that’s why you do good research before running ads), but at least worth a look. But there are ways to make Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and every Social Media platform that your readers are on work for you.
If you’re super busy (and if you are following my suggestions here you should be), then you may want to have your Social Media savvy teen or assistant give you a helping hand. Every person that stops past your table make sure you add them as a friend, take a picture with them holding their newly purchased book(s), and tag them in the post. Your social media reach will grow as you now start to show up in the news feeds of others (super important, always friend and tag via social media, ALWAYS).
Also throughout the day don’t forget to keep posting about your book signing event and asking others to come on out and join you. Offer some crazy kind of deal for the next 5 people who come out and mentioned they seen the post where you invited them out. The trick is to be consistent and vary your message, but always be enthusiastic when delivering it. Going live on Facebook or Instagram really helps here.
Networking: Yes you will be super busy and even a little tired, but before you even think about calling it a day make sure that you take the time and work the room. Whether it’s your first book signing event or your fiftieth, go say hello to your fellow authors. If you’re not friends via social media make the connection, take the picture, and tag them. Pick their brains; if you’re ever at a book signing event with Author Brian W. Smith make sure to ask him how does he have such a loyal book club following (when I say book clubs love this guy, love is an understatement, I would say cult-like, but don’t want to offend anyone)? You are there with Omar Tyree, you have to ask how does he stay passionate after writing so many books? Lucky enough to be table to table with Leann Rhodes, make sure to ask how did she sell 400 copies of her book Rise Up, Shine On in little over a month. Remember to socialize with a purpose because iron sharpens iron and you will always be dull by yourself.
Thank You: First off thank YOU for reading this blog, I know it was a tad bit lengthy, but I honestly want you to triple you foot traffic at any book signing event and have a great time doing it. But the person YOU should be thanking is the host of the event. So make sure before you leave to find and thank them for giving you such a great platform to sell your books, grow your email address, and increase your readership and network. Of course you’re going to take a picture with them and tag them on social media. Yes you are thankful for the moment, but no need for the moment not to be beneficial to you!
Yeah I know this blog was a lot to consume (you can never have too much good information right?), but in all modesty it’s so many actionable take aways in it that you won’t help but to succeed in tripling your foot traffic at any book signing event. Also by friending every person that stops by your table on social media and tagging them in every picture, getting their email address, and networking with your fellow authors will pay huge benefits long after your book signing event is complete. I know this blog is about tripling your foot traffic, but I took it a step further so that you can maximize every opportunity available to you. That’s what having a career as an author is about right? And to make EXTRA sure of it, I’ve provided you with a 10 point FREE downloadable checklist to reference before your next book signing event so you won’t forget anything.
And before you go could you do me just two small favors? First, if you found this blog helpful could you leave your comments below in the comment section and second, feel free to share this across social media as no author’s journey is meant to be traveled alone.