Book Signing Blues

Last week I participated in an “Authors Room” at a trade show. The event promotion folks did a great job creating signage that showed all the book covers, the book titles, and the authors’ names. They also did a great job with print media promotion before the event. Their website featured the event speakers and authors. And the four-color, multi-page program was very classy and well done.

But something went wrong in the event execution.

The Authors Room wasn’t set up on time. Authors stood in the hallway waiting with boxes of books. The hotel workmen scrambled to set up tables, but the room only held  six tables and there were eleven authors. Several authors brought along helpers to assist them, which made the room even more crowded and less inviting to anyone entering.

Crowded isn’t necessarily a negative thing–unless the crowd consists of authors selling and signing books rather than readers lining up to meet the authors and buy books.

As the workmen hurried, some of the more assertive authors raced into the room and grabbed the prime real estate of the first two tables near the door. Those authors were able to add their floor easels holding promotional material into the tiny space before the workmen finished setting up the rest of the room.

Some of the more polite authors ended up at the back of the room, stuffed in the corner and hardly visible.

The book signing was scheduled from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm.

One of our authors was there and she did everything right–her books were displayed well, she draped her table top with red satin (which made her spot stand out), she displayed an elevated prop for visual interest, and she mingled with the other authors in the room, which meant she wasn’t stuck behind a table looking bored.

By 7:00, the authors in the back of the room  packed up and left.  Within a half-hour, the remaining authors followed that lead.

Lessons? Despite the promoter doing everything right, the book signing was a bust from a sales perspective. The room was too small. It was located by the portable bar, so the people standing in line to get drinks blocked the entrance to the room. If a person did get inside the room, the set-up was uninviting–more reminiscent of dogs in an animal shelter looking  to be picked than an opportunity to meet authors and get books signed.

Perhaps it would have been better to schedule the signing for just an hour or two. Perhaps it would have been better to have a bigger room or fewer authors. Perhaps it would have been better to have some ambiance in the room other than authors staring at the door waiting for someone to come in.

I did sell books (one reader even wanted her photo taken with me). The author I shared my table with was a delight, and I wouldn’t have missed meeting her and sharing with her for anything. Sometimes the value in book signings is more than just selling books. I’m glad I was there.

Happy writing!


1 Response to “Book Signing Blues”

  1. 1 Carol Ann Hoel May 9, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Wow! Promotion obviously isn’t everything. Someone dropped the ball on the logistics! What a shame!

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