Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Signings: Blessing or Curse

By Andrea Boeshaar

Book signings.  The very idea of sitting at a table in a bookstore and waiting for readers to buy their books makes some authors extremely uncomfortable. However, like them or not, book signings are a necessary evil in the publishing industry. Why? Because readers love to meet authors. Readers feel a sort of kinship with authors after being part of their stories for two hundred pages or more, and to get the author’s autograph is worth future sales…to the author. And to the bookstore owner or manager, those sales are important.

As Christian writers, even if writing is a ministry, we need to honor the Lord by acting as good stewards with our time and talents.  Royalty checks will be marginal if book signings aren’t part of our marketing strategy. Is “marginal” the blessing God really wants to bestow on His children? The Bible says God is able to do “exceeding, abundantly and above all we ask or think” (Eph ). That hardly sounds “marginal” to me; however, we have to be willing to do our part.  What manuscript will bless others if it sits in a filing cabinet and isn’t solicited at writers’ conferences and/or submitted to publishers? Likewise, what author will build loyalty among her readers if she’s unwilling to do book signings?

This is not to say that each book signing will be a smashing success. What’s more, lesser-known authors have to work harder at promoting their signings than those whose names frequent the best seller’s list. My first book signing left me feeling embarrassed because I didn’t autograph a single one of my titles. Since then, I’ve become selective about my signings.

I either do a group signing because it relieves my anxiety over whether any readers will show up, or I sign at local Christian bookstores and send out invitations to friends and family members. In March I also hosted a free writers' seminar with two other authors. It went great!

But first and foremost, I have learned to pray weeks in advance, asking God to bless my endeavors. He is always faithful to reply.

So what do you think of book signings? If you're a reader, do you attend them? If you're a writer, how do you handle them?

1 comment:

DebMoss said...

As a reader, I love book signings by my favorite authors. I'm a book "hoarder," and my signed books get a special place on my shelves that means they are not loaned out. And working in the publishing business, I have been blessed to have been able to help out a a book signing for our authors several years ago in Central Florida. I know they are work for the authors, and like Andrea said, sometimes with not as many signings as you would like. But from the reader side of the table, I say keep the signings coming!