Working Well With Indie Bookstores, Pt. 2

Maria V.

You’ve successfully booked an event with an independent bookstore. Yay! Whether it is a signing, a group signing, or an alternate event, there is still plenty of work to do to get ready. The obvious first step is to spread the word. Post the details of the event on all your social media outlets, update your website’s appearances page, and let all your friends and family know. Consider sending out “Save the Date” postcards to everyone, and I mean everyone (children’s teachers, neighbors, hair stylist, etc.).
Also, don’t forget to post a sign in your local library, cafes, and contact book clubs in the area. Basically, anywhere readers gather. The bookstore will also be advertising the event. Coordinate with them regarding their efforts, and also about creating a Facebook event page. If possible, ask to be listed as one of the hosts.
Another way to advertise is to contact your local newspaper, well in advance. Send them all the pertinent information along with a write-up about the event. A fun and quirky description, or an interesting fact about you, or the event, will help catch their eye.
For instance, when I first started out, I hooked a few journalists when I said I was a meteorologist turned novelist. They wanted to know how that unusual transition came about. I was also invited to appear on "Weather World", a local TV weather show, because I had written a Fantasy book titled "Storm Glass" that featured weather magicians who could trap a storm’s energy into glass orbs to be used later.
Now that the word is out, the next step is to think about swag. Swag is small giveaways like pens, bookmarks, chocolate, etc. that you use to entice readers to your table or for a reminder when a person leaves the event. I’ve seen all kinds—shot glasses, keychains, post-it notes, chip clips, pins, wine charms—the list is endless! I’ve tried all kinds of different giveaways—Atomic Fireballs for my book "Fire Study", pencils, postcards, bouncy balls—my junk drawer is overflowing!
Consider this; have you ever bought a book because of the author’s swag? I haven’t. I buy books recommended to me by others, or if I meet the author and they’re nice and I’m interested in reading their book. The only swag I bring to an event are bookmarks. It’s something for readers to take along that has all the information about me and my books. They’re reasonably priced and almost expected. Of course, I’ll still bring some chocolates to have on my table—and extra chocolates for the staff room.

Read the entire article in the Febrtuary 2022 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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