Friday, February 11, 2011

When Opportunity Knocks

I hope you all haven't forgotten that this is Valentine's Day Weekend. Don't forget your sweeties. Other than going out with my sweetie I have an event to attend.
Tommorow, February 12th, I will be attending Reader Appreciation Day with fellow authors at Barnes and Noble. This is an annual event. Many authors will be signing books. Alas, I have no book to sign yet, since Secrets of the Heart does not release until May 2011. But there is always opportunity if one looks for it. Here are a few things you can do even when your book isn't out there yet.
  1. Get your business cards ready for distribution.
  2. Ask your publisher for mock ups. Realms kindly gave me three.
  3. Prepare to talk about your book.
  4. Distribute a blurb about your book along with endorsements.
  5. Hold a raffle. I'm going to raffle off a lovely piece of jewlery.
  6. Have pieces of paper ready that people can put name/e-mail on for the raffle and tell them it's for your newsletter. Everyone may not want to do that, but the readers who are comfortable with it get a shot at the raffle.
  7. CHOCOLATE. It's close to Valentine's Day and lots of us love a piece of candy.
  8. A few pens for convenience. I didn't order any of those pens with my name on it.
  9. Bring a camera. I just thought of this one. I'll want pictures for blog purposes.
  10. Dress professionally.
I've never done this before. I'd like to know from readers and writers alike if you have any other thoughts for an event like this that might help advertise your book. Personally, I think it's more about talking and less about gadgets but I might be wrong.

I recently was blessed by two blog posts that gave me a lot of these ideas. If you go to this post on my blog  Blog Pick Friday you can easily find those posts. (I hope). Great advice.

If you are a reader that has attended an event like this or has attended a book signing what did you like and what didn't you like? What would you recommend?

If you are a writer and have done individual book signings and signings in a group as well what did you like and what didn't you like? What would you recommend?

Reader or writer, are book signings worth it? Please take a piece of chocolate as you leave the blog. :)


Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

As a writer, I want to start participating in more reader-oriented events. Over the years (and because I'm a life coach) I've focused on ministering to other writers and, alas, have probably neglected my readers. But that's about to change! :)

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I really love meeting people at events like this. Building connections is the way to go to build a fan base.

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Andrea and Lena,
I agree that it's important to connect with our readers or future readers. If we can do that in person I think it means so much. Even if we're talking to people who don't currently have an interest in what we write they may change their minds or pass on the information. It's also an opportunity to talk to someone who may need a little encouragement. We never know what God has in store.

Mike Dellosso said...

I agree with Lena. For me, book signings are less about pushing our wares and more about connecting with people. I've done quite a few book events and I always enjoy the multi-author ones best. I lean toward being an introvert so being in a group takes the pressure off me. And when I do a solo signing I try to take my wife with me. She's the warm and friendly type and people are just drawn to her. But I don't jump right in to my sales pitch. I want to talk to people first, build a bond, get to know them a little. As a society we're so inundated with sales pitches we, as authors, need to be careful not to be just another voice crying in the book aisle. A little motto I use in work, ministry, and writing: People always come first.

Jillian Kent said...

Good advice, Mike. I'll have to remember to bring my hubby with me when I'm doing a signing by myself. He can talk up a storm where I'm a little more reserved. Don't get me wrong. I love to talk to people, I'm a counselor afterall, but that's a different kind of experience than facing prospective readers that might be interested in what you are writing. I'm going to have to find a public comfort zone. Saturday should be fun.

Greg Mitchell said...

It's been awhile since I've done a booksigning, but what always worked for me in the past was being personable and initiating conversation. I know that when I'VE gone to a convention and I see an author I want to talk to just sitting there looking bored, it's really intimidating. When I'M the author, I like to be engaged in what's going on around me, starting conversations, making people laugh, oh and yeah I wrote a book. And I tend to stand a lot, too. I like to be at eye level with the people as they come up. It just makes me feel more comfortable. I'm introverted, too, but I'm used to dealing with customers all day who want to shoot the bull for a while before they get down to business (a "Southern thing", I guess). I think you're right, though, Mike--if I walk into a bookstore and see an author signing, I try and slyly sneak past because I'm afraid I'm going to get the sales pitch. I try not to pitch people until they actually ask me "Oh, you wrote a book? What's it about?"

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

I hate those sales pitches too. And yet my experience in bookstores and at my own signings is that customers don't always know I'm sitting there. So I "work the floor" as one writer-friend once termed it. But I don't push. I just introduce myself. "Hi, I'm Andrea Boeshaar and I'm here signing my books. I write Inspirational historical romance." Then I hand them a postcard or bookmark. Sometimes customers ask questions but if they don't seem interested I leave them alone and don't push. :)

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Greg,
I like being at eye level with folks too. And I enjoy talking to others about what they like to read. I remember walking into Borders once and a well-known author was sitting there with only one reader asking questions. I was surprised. I would think she felt pretty awkward and since she was from another country it didn't look like she'd brought any friends along.:)

I think I'd be more prone to ask them what they like to read and then tell them what I write and what I'm doing at the bookstore. I'm hoping to practice tomorrow and see what happens? :)It's funny that I can easily pitch books for friends in a situation like that but for myself, that's awkward. But I do want to have fun.

Great Lakes Romances said...

I guess I'm really old-fashioned in the approach I would take. Business cards are okay but for the readers, you really want to hand them a bookmark telling the title, author, release date, story blurb, your website or blog site, or any other contact info you want to include (an email address and/or PO box address). Everyone who says "people first" is right on the mark. If you show sincere interest in what your visitors have to say and find something in common, you've connected in a more significant way. And I sure do relate to those above who say they are more introvert than social. My husband, who goes with me to public appearances, really knows how to work the personal contact angles. Best wishes!

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar said...

Jill, I love to hear what readers enjoy by the way of books too. But when you've got only a few seconds to catch the ears of passersby, the intro works well. Otherwise, you might ask and they'll keep on walking, not out of rudeness, but busyness. Know what I mean? However, if you share something about you then readers may stop and share their book interests with you. :)

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Donna Of GLR,
Thanks so much for stopping by. Because my book is not out till May I thought that I'd get bookmarks for that event and use the business cards for this event. I'm taking in all the advice I can get and appreciate your suggestions. Drop by anytime.

I don't think I'm as brave as you are, yet.:)

Jillian Kent said...

Hi Gang,
Well I just got back from my event out at Barnes and Noble. Nothing went as expected. It went better! I got to see writers that I haven't seen for a long time. I sat next to Shelley Shepard Gray who is an awesome friend and writer. My crit buddy Ginny Powers provided a beautiful necklace to auction off. I talked to many people and overall had a blast. Everyone loved the mockups that Realms did for my novel. It was a special day. Now I'm headed out to eat dinner with my hubby. What's everyone doing for Valentine's celebrations?