An Out of the Box Book Signing Venue

DSC_1315Finding places for book signings can be such a hassle. The possibilities of sales are risky. When I wrote my latest release New Duet I placed it in Aurora, Illinois with the intention of garnering a fan base from my hometown. To gain those readers I had to have book signings locally.  Which required me to leave my writing cave. One of the settings in my book is an Art gallery frame shop called If These Walls Could Talk. The owners support the arts. My heroine Isabella goes there to view the artwork and gains inspiration for her life.

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When I approached the owners about having a book signing they were excited. Aurora has entertainment every first Friday of the month from April to October. We agreed First Friday in August would be the perfect time to showcase me. Each First Friday has a theme. In a city of 200,00 there are activities at various venues down town.

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If These Walls Could Talk arranged to have the block in front of their store closed off for an Artist Block Party. The artist set up on the block to sell their wares. Many created pieces during the night. One woman held an art class for passersby. There were no other authors there.

 

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Notice the easel, paints and military items. These represent the characters of Isabella and Dan in New Duet.

 

The shop offered light refreshments and a wine tasting to those who came by to see the art inside. Jennifer is a smart marketer. She displayed my books in her window for two weeks before the event and they will remain for two weeks after. My book trailer played on a loop in the window.

I sold more books then I have at any event. Patrons came in and I mention my book was set in Aurora and this shop was one of the scenes. That intrigued them. (Key marketing point: Talk to people don’t just sit behind your table and hope to sell books.) I had copies of my historical romance Secrets & Charades on the table and those sold as well.

People who wouldn’t normally buy inspiration romance or shop in a Christian bookstore purchased New Duet. I found avid readers who were thrilled to get an autographed copy from a local author. The art community is a great supporter of one another. Often we forget writing a novel is an art form.

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I met ladies who are part of a book club. Who knows I may get featured there.

Getting my face out there in a non-typical book signing setting was fun and hopefully brings me new fans.

I offered a chance to win a $10 amazon card if they signed up for my e-newsletter.

I’d do another event like this in a heartbeat.

How about you? What venues were gold for you?

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Book signing and a Class Reunion

When my husband first signed us up to attend his 50th class reunion, he suggested I do a book signing at the local library. I was hesitant because library things can often be a bust. People go to the library to borrow books, not buy them. But I wanted to honor my husband’s request. He announced it on his class website and kept them in the loop. I was listed as an event for the class along with other activities that day. I’d placed a press release in the town paper to be sure others knew about it.

 

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My book signing visitors.

 

The library is a transformed school. My wi-fi connection for my square wouldn’t work in the old structure. We arrived early and set up, book trailer playing on the laptop, nice table cloth, bookmarks and posters. My table was in an out of the way place. That concerned me. As I said libraries are not the best places for book signings.

 

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Signing books

 

At the start time people came. To my surprise and delight my husband’s cousins had driven up from Arkansas to participate in the book signing.  Salem, Illinois is four plus hours from their homes in Arkansas.

An 80-year-old from a neighboring town had seen my press release in the paper. Judy Trader had never been to a book signing and decided she was coming. Two of Charley’s classmates came as well.

 

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80 year old Judy Trader at her first book signing

 

I did a reading from both books, and we had a wonderful time of discussion. Everyone bought both my books, which is always a plus.

 

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Reading from New Duet

 

That evening at the reunion festivities, the MC announced I was there with my books, and I sold several more sets. I guess being a woman in her sixties achieving her dream made me a celebrity. A strange feeling indeed. I sat at our table and classmates would come up and purchase signed copies. No special table covering, no fanfare. Another new experience. And thankfully my square found a connection in that location.

 

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Charley and I at the pre-reunion gathering where they insisted I needed to bring my books to the reunion festitivties the next night.

 

Everyone signed up for my newsletter because they wanted to keep up with my writing journey.

I almost refused to do it because I didn’t want to distract from Charley’s reunion festivities. But he was as excited as I was over the response. Visiting with his cousins later after the book signing was an unexpected treat.

I plan on taking other opportunities to present my books in new and different venues. Maybe my own 50th reunion, five years from now.

 

Where are some unusual places you’ve had book signings?

Why I Set My Novel in My Hometown

 

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Aurora, Illinois has the Fox River flowing through downtown

 

 

The idea for New Duet ruminated in my mind for a while before I chose a setting. During that time, my husband and I went to a First Friday celebration. (Aurora, Illinois has fun events downtown every first Friday during the summer, starting in May and runs until September.)  The theme for that Friday was spotlighting local artists.

 

My husband and I walk around downtown visiting art galleries and stores, bars and restaurants that featured artists and photographers’ offerings from Aurora and surrounding areas.

 

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Isabell Wilson is inspired by this sculpted water fountain called The Dancing Stones

 

When we visited some artist’s studios, I knew my characters would meet in Aurora. Isabella has an art degree from a Chicago art school and yet, she married a music minister and never create art again.

Isabella needs to rebuild her life after her husband’s untimely death. Resurrecting her art muse in a city that supports the arts was a perfect plot twist.

 

Aurora has a diverse ethnic population of over 200,000. Museums, fun restaurants and the beautiful Fox River gave me scene settings—not to mention possible date opportunities in Chicago, 70 minutes to the lake shore by car. The local college and wonderful local architecture play a part in my story.

 

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The Paramont Theater a great place to see Broadway quality productions

 

The biggest challenge for me is I’m directionally challenged. My sweet hubby double-checked all my physical references and made sure they were on the correct street and my characters were headed in the right direction.

An extra bonus to placing my setting in Aurora are local book signings. I’ll be signing books at If These Walls Could Talk this summer.  This lovely framing store is also a gallery for local artists to display their work.

 

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If These Wall Could Talk Framing and Gallery

 

A wonderful scene in New Duet takes place in that shop. The co-owner and gallery manager, Jennifer Rauch was happy to feature me on…drum roll… First Friday in August. What a great cycle of creativity.

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If any of you are in the Aurora area the First Friday in August come by and say hello. I’ll be sharing more behind the scenes things from New Duet in future posts. Don’t miss out. Subscribe.

 

 

 

 

Be Prepared to Make the Sale

DSC_1194I’m in the throes of beginning book sales. While the internet sales go forward I recall what it was like to sell product when I was in an MLM.  I failed to follow through on some of the marketing ideas offered. But the key ones were always having your product and catalogs with you. Adopting that mindset I have a few questions for anyone who’s got a book on the market.

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Do you keep a box of books in your car? How about a bag of books at work? A basket of books on vacation? You should. If you have your books with you and someone asked what you do and express an interest you’re ready to close the deal.

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Are you comfortable asking to have a book table anytime you are asked to speak?  Step out of your comfort zone and do it.

Have you looked for places to sell your books? Craft shows, festivals, art fairs, anywhere vendors sell their wares. Your books should be there. If you don’t believe in you who will.

Looking for and creating open doors is another way to get your name out there as you sell books. Don’t rely on online sales only. Diversify your opportunities. There are still lots of people who love paperback books and often when they meet an author will buy their books. I just arrange a book signing and a mini-workshop about writing at my local library.

Your book is not only your new baby it’s your new business. Treat it like one.

What have you done to prepare to make the sale?

 

 

 

What I Learned From My Live Book Launch

DSC_1202Last night was my live book launch. Not all authors do them. But for me, it was an opportunity to celebrate with friends, family, and co-workers. I wanted to share with you what I did. There are some basics everyone follows. The biggest of course, selling autograph copies. I’d read that book launches are more successful if they are not in a bookstore. So, I chose the fireplace room at my church. It had more of a living room feel.

S&C - invite postcard for social media(1)I post an invitation on FB multiple times. And passed out invitations to friends and co-workers. My hubby placed them on various bulletin boards in restaurants so perspective readers would be aware.

For the event, I decorated with a few flowers, table cloths that match my book cover. I served cookies and other finger foods along with coffee, lemonade, and water. I kept it simple and avoided crumblier fare like cupcakes.DSC_1208

My hubby set my book trailer to play on a loop. It showed on the big screen in the room during the whole event. That garnered more interest in the story.

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I share a few minute about my writing journey. Had a drawing for items that represented my story. I talked about the significance of each one in relationship to the story. (Each entry provided an email which gave me new names for my mailing list.) I read the first two pages of my book to the attendees.  Then we had a Q & A. The questions were interesting and a few silly. (My grandson who is 18 asked when his name was going to be in my book.)DSC_1196

Then I sat at a table and autographed books. My son took care of the money. I used a square so as not to miss any sales.

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Now I feel more confident about doing signings and other events in the future.

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What I could I have done better?

Advertised sooner and in more places. Mailed out some invitations.

Double check each item before I left. My husband had to run back for a few things before we started. Know the internet password. Fortunately, my son has a phone he can create an internet hotspot so we were saved when it came to square sales. It probably would be wise to look for that option for my phone when I’m out and about selling my paperback copies.

Less is more. I had way to many cookies and brought too many books. But both were an act of faith. Not a bad reason. I’d rather have too much than not enough. 😊

The event was encouraging and the comments from attendees were precious. This is what a real author does. YAY! I am a real author.

Link to my trailer and on the last frame is the link to order on Amazon

Love to hear from you in the comment section about your own book launches. Or any questions you might have.