Tag Archive | fiction

The things I’ve learnt about hosting a book signing event.

Signing my first book of the day

Signing my first book of the day

Every writer, at some point in their writing career, hosts a book signing event for their latest book. It can be a daunting prospect for both experienced and inexperienced writers, because there is always the fear that no one will turn up. Authors are divided on how much value a book signing event holds, some go on to do many, others the bare minimum. Some, I suspect, have never done one or ever will.

Last month, I held my first book signing event and I’m pleased to say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. In this blog post I will share my experience in the hope that other writers will learn from it and readers will gain insight into the hidden side of a book signing event.

How many authors does it take..?

My book signing event was shared with seven other authors. This is a great way to learn the process, pick up tips, share its eventual success (or failure) whilst gaining additional access to readers who may attend the event to see your fellow authors. There are other benefits too. An event hosted by multiple authors will have a unique angle and be more newsworthy, which will improve your chances of securing radio airtime and newspaper editors’ attention to spread the word.
J.Jackson, K.Ryder, me, CLoveday, C.Vermaat, M.J.Logue, S.J.Haxton &A.MartinIt may also increase your chances of securing your preferred venue, particularly if the venue is connected to a café/gallery etc, which will benefit from the increased footfall attracted to your book signing event.

Tip No. 1:- Team up with other authors in your area and host an event together. I was lucky to be able to team up with Jane Jackson (Historical Romance), Kate Ryder (Romantic Fiction) Chrissie Loveday (Romance/Murder Mystery) Carla Vermaat (Crime Fiction) M.J.Logue (Historical Fiction) S.J.Haxton (Historical) & Adrian Martin (Horror).

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Why do you want to hold one?

A book signing event is about selling books. Wrong! Book signing events are much more than that. Success or failure should not be measured by the number of books you sell on the day. If Author A sells one book and Author B sells ten, it’s understandable to think that Author B has had the most successful day. However, Author A gave away 50 bookmarks, engaged with visitors to her table in a friendly, positive manner and had an enjoyable experience. The visitors went home later that day and downloaded her latest two ebooks (which were publicised on her bookmark). On the other hand, Author B, who sold ten books, barely looked up from his scribbling to speak to his customer. They went home feeling a little resentful at his arrogant manner and, frankly, who can blame them? Suddenly Author A appears to have had the most successful event, even though they sold only one book on the day.

Tip No. 2:- A Book Signing event is about meeting like minded people who love books. Enjoy it, have fun and don’t panic if you don’t sell very many.

Location, location, location

Finding the right venue is always a challenge. Consideration has to be given to the location. Is it accessible? Are there other services onsite which will entice visitors?  Does the theme fit with your books and if it doesn’t, does it matter? How much do they charge? Is it available for the date required? Where can signs be displayed to help show the way? Are the owners happy for you to give out freebies/business cards etc.? A visit to the venue will help alleviate any concerns or raise a few issues.

Tip No. 3:- Always visit the venue. Recommendations by fellow authors are always helpful. See the venue through the eyes of a shy reader. Would you visit an author at this venue? What would stop you? What would make it easier for you to step inside and browse?

The word on the street…

It’s no use booking the venue if no one knows it’s happening. Today’s author is used to the publicity machine and if they are not, they soon have to learn how it works. It may come as a surprise to most readers to discover that many writers are not “A list” writers who earn big bucks. Many are struggling to make a living and probably have a day job to support their writing career. For these authors, IMG_0205publicity events, radio interviews and newspaper articles are organised by the writer themselves and not by their publisher or agent. A book signing event is no different. Local radio, podcasts and social media networks are all great ways to spread the news. Flyers, posters, newspaper articles and parish magazines are more traditional methods and just as valuable for informing the public of your special event.

Tip No. 4:- Don’t be shy about spreading the word. Keep notes on who you approached and who were supportive, so you can use them again for future book releases and events.
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Informing the shy reader about your book…

The big day has arrived! You’ve booked the venue, done the publicity and now you want to encourage the reader to your table. The best way to do that is to display what you would want to see if you were a visitor. Again, I imagined I was a shy reader and asked myself the question, what would make it easier for me? I came to the conclusion I would want to know what the book was about, without feeling watched or badgered into buying it. This is what I kept in mind when I set up my table.

I write romances and therefore wanted romance readers to recognise my genre from afar and find my table interesting enough to take a closer look. In order to do that, I covered the table with a white table cloth and decorated it with heart shaped confetti. I filled heart shaped bowls with business cards, bookmarks and sweets with a note saying “Please take one”.  These things helped to set the genre and gave visitors “permission” to take any freebies they fancied without having to ask. While they munched, or considered which bookmark to take, I wanted to promote my book in what I hoped was not a “sales pitch” or hard sell. I displayed several copies of my book, an A4 poster detailing the book blurb and my credentials and a video of my book trailer which played on a continuous loop. If the customer had any questions, I was nearby to help. If my table became quiet, I walked around the room offering sweets and free bookmarks, but with no pressure to buy my book and no sales pitches. There is no bigger turn off than someone saying, “Buy my book! Buy my book!”

Tip No. 5:- Make/order bookmarks and business cards in plenty of time to allow for delivery. If you use sweets and chocolates to entice readers to your table, put a few out at a time and not the whole lot. I have heard of customers taking handfuls of sweets, even emptying a bowl into their handbag, before disappearing without a backward glance. If this happens, your sweets will not last long! However, I must confess, I would probably take far more than I should if I was a visitor, as I find it very hard to say no to free sweets and chocolate!
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The end is not the end…

I really enjoyed my first book signing event. My fellow authors were great fun and it was a privilege to share the experience with them. The visitors and owners of the venue appeared to enjoy the day too. However, the benefits of hosting a book signing event continues long after it is ended. Photographs taken on the day can be used for publicity purposes in the future, whether on twitter, Facebook, Pin Interest or a blog post. Within 24 hours of posting the photographs of our event on Facebook, one author saw her viewing stats soar to over 400!

Tip No. 6:- Take plenty of photographs so readers, family, bloggers and fellow authors can share and remember the experience with you. A book signing event is not the time to become camera shy!

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Kate Ryder and I (B.D.Hawkey)

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Chrissie Loveday

Dear reader…

So if you hear of a book signing event near you, do come along and say hello. Authors don’t bite and we would love to see you – after-all we are holding the event to meet people just like you! Please don’t be afraid you will be pressured into buying something. We just want to engage with readers, share our love of books and let you know we have a book out at the moment.

Hannah Carla Adrian

M.J.Logue, Carla Vermaat & Adrian Martin

Take a look at the books on show, just as you would in any bookshop, but unlike an ordinary bookshop experience, you will have an opportunity to chat to the author about all things to do with writing.

Jane Jackson & S.J.Haxton

Jane Jackson & S.J.Haxton

If you like a book, you can buy a signed copy. It’s fun and a signed book makes a unique gift. If nothing interests you, we will understand. Authors understand that readers have their preferences and we would rather you buy a book you will love, than a book you will hate.

My final thoughts…

I have always been a reader, but more recently, as an author, I have experienced the other side of a book signing event. I’ve learnt that, in the majority of cases, authors are not rich celebrities with a queue of excited fans forming in the streets. They are just ordinary people with a passion for books, hoping to meet like minded people. They might also be a dash nervous, a little excited and a smidgen worried that no one will come, so they will be glad to see you should you choose to drop in.

 

In conversation with Georgia Hill

At this time of year it is only natural to remember the year that has just ended and look forward to the months ahead. We find ourselves making plans and resolutions that may, ultimately, change our lives forever.

Georgia Hill

Georgia Hill

Author of contemporary romance, Georgia Hill, made such a change in 2015 by stepping outside her normal genre and publishing her first historical romance. I’m, therefore, delighted to welcome Georgia to my blog to find out how and why she made the change.

Georgia used to live in London, where she worked in the theatre. Later, she got the bizarre job of teaching road safety to the U.S. navy – in Marble Arch! She now lives in a tiny Herefordshire village, where, she tells me, she scandalises the neighbours by not keeping ‘country hours’ and being unable to make a decent pot of plum jam. Her home is a converted oast house, which she shares with her two beloved spaniels, husband and a ghost called Zoe.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today, Georgia, and not bringing Zoe with you!

I’m delighted to be with you, thank you so much for having me on! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you too! The start of a new year is a time for making resolutions, plans or setting goals. Can you share with us your resolutions and plans for 2016?

 I didn’t make any resolutions for 2015 so am determined to make some for the forthcoming year. We’re hoping to move house, so relocating is the main goal for 2016. However, we still haven’t decided where we want to go! I need to finish the WIP (work in progress) and return to a book I’ve  abandoned. I’d also like to begin the search for an agent and I’m going to self-publish three books for which I’ve just received the rights back. There’s a visit to the Harper Collins headquarters arranged for February and I’m going to be brave and try getting my books into local shops. So, the first few months of 2016 are already mapped out.

It sounds like the coming year is going to be very busy with serious lifestyle and career changes. Just for fun, if you were able to do/achieve anything you like in 2016, no matter how outrageous, what would it be and why?

This question has me stumped! I can think of lots of things I’d like to learn – Italian, how to ballroom dance and I’d love to learn to sing. I really ought to learn how to use my new laptop as I keep putting that off but something outrageous? What I’d really love to do is be able to tell people exactly what I think – just for a day – with no repercussions. That would be fun! Or be able to talk dog language so I know what’s going on in the heads of my two spaniels. I’m pretty sure I know anyway – walkies, food, tummy rubs just about covers their needs. Mine too, come to think about it!

I think my dog, Alfie, would probably say the same things! You have been a successful author of contemporary romance for many years, but in 2015 you had your first historical romance, While I Was Waiting , published. Why did you decide to change subgenres and was it an easy or hard WIWW final coverdecision to make?

That’s very kind of you! I’ve always written and have been writing seriously for the last ten years but have only been published since 2009, so I still think of myself as a beginner! I wrote novellas while I was working as a teacher as they fitted into the time I had available. I love historical fiction, especially dual narrative – my all-time favourite book is Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine. I wanted to see if I could write in that genre. Although I enjoy writing and reading rom-coms, I knew I had something else to offer. While I Was Waiting evolved over a long time and I poured my heart and soul into it. It’s the book I’m proudest of. I have many other ideas for books in a similar genre, but another novella in the Sequins series is planned too. Writing is like reading; you work on different things at different times. Sometimes you’re in the mood for something short and sassy, sometimes you want a slow-burner or something more serious. I find each genre has its challenges. Nothing is easy to write!

Were there any surprises or difficulties about changing subgenre?

I think I relaxed more! I think historical, dual narrative is more me. I also had to plan more efficiently and develop a more organised way to work. I learned lots during the process of writing While I Was Waiting. Hopefully, that will feed into any future writing.

Were you nervous about how While I Was Waiting would be received by readers who enjoy your contemporary romances?

Very! I considered using another name, or a variation of my author name. However, my editor raised no concerns so While I Was Waiting is published under Georgia Hill. Thankfully, it seems my readers have accepted the change in direction. Thinking about it though, my novellas dealt with serious issues such as bullying, body image, agoraphobia and While I Was Waiting has a lot of humour in it. Maybe they’re not so different after all?

Your first historical romance has received great reviews. Do you have plans to write more or try another sub-genre?

Thank you! As it’s the book of my heart, I’m thrilled and humbled readers love it. The next book is in the same genre; it’s a dual narrative supernatural set on the Jurassic Coast. The one after that has numerous narrative strands, but with a strong supernatural element. The three books should stand together well, although they’re only linked by genre. As for other genres, never say never. I’d love to have a go at children’s fiction or an adult fairy tale.

When a new year starts, many of us think about making changes or trying new things over the coming months, but do not have the courage to do it. From your experience, what advice can you offer others about trying something different to what is expected of you?

I’m possibly the worst person to ask this – I don’t always respond to change easily. I suppose I’d say, have a go. You never know what you can achieve unless you try. And what have you got to lose?

Can you share with us what you are working on at the moment?

I’d love to! It’s the story of recently bereaved Charlie, who travels to Lyme Regis in Dorset to investigate a family scandal. She meets Matt and together they discover her family’s secret and why Charlie is being haunted by the ghost of a Victorian fossil collector – who means her and those she loves great harm.

It sounds intriguing. Thank you for your candid interview, Georgia. Your experience has certainly inspired me to explore other genres, both as a writer and as a reader, and I wish you all the best for your next book.

Thank you for having me on Brenda, I’ve loved talking to you. I hope 2016 brings you all you wish for!

You can visit Georgia’s blog and website page here and her Facebook page here . You can also follow her on twitter @georgiawrites .

Click on While I Was Waiting to buy the book.