You’ve written that first book. You’re so proud of it. Now you want to make sure your public hears about it. What can you do to get some exposure in the ‘real world’ as opposed to on-line via social media?
Let’s talk about two that worked for me; book signings and interviews on radio and TV.
I live in a relatively rural area, not a big city, but I think that this can work even in cities. When my first book came out I took some with me and travelled about to all the bookstores I could find within an hour’s drive. At each one I would gather all my courage and ask to speak to whoever was in charge about doing a book-signing. I soon learned that the person with the authority to make that decision is not always present. Lesson number one; call or e-mail ahead for an appointment with the owner or manager. It will save a lot of time and frustration. Also make sure you know the owner’s name and can address him/her by name when you meet. In a way, this is a job interview. Treat it like one.
I also learned that small private bookstores were much more willing to have an unknown newbie in than the big chain stores.
Make sure that you show your client (yes, that’s what I call them) your book and ask if they would be willing to have it on their shelves to sell. Many will accept on consignment but the odd one might even be willing to order from your publisher. These are gems worth cultivating a relationship with.
My success rate was about half. One store owner suggested that I might want to team up with another author for the event. She even asked a local eatery to host us. We both read from our work and answered questions. I sold seven books that night, the highest number of all my events for that book.
Which brings me to lesson two. Offer to read from your book and to do a Q&A with your audience. All right, I know that some of you don’t like to read, or are not good at it. Maybe you could ask a friend to go with you to do that part. It really does make a difference. It hooks readers. Find out if the owner is willing have cookies and coffee for your guests. That may not work in small spaces but I’ve learned that it is a big draw. It seems the way to a reader’s heart may well be through his stomach. Who knew?
Make sure you keep a list of your contacts and keep in touch with them so that they will be even more willing to host you when the next book comes out.
Advertising is something you will need to discuss with each store owner. Will they take care of it? What does that mean – ads in the local rag, posters about town, announcements on the radio? Or will the onus be on you for all that?
I have had several book signing events. They are useful for getting your name known but your personality and your genre will largely determine how many books you sell at these events. It also helps if you have more than one book to offer. If you land that book-signing event be sure to have copies of all your books available.
There are three common kinds of interviews; radio, television and blogs.
Success in landing a radio or TV interview will depend to some extent on whether you have a local station. This is one situation where living in a big city may be a disadvantage. The method is much the same. Do your research. By that I mean find out which program might be interested, who the host is, and who makes the decisions. Most smaller stations will be happy to host you, if only for a few minutes. If you have a local connection to that station that helps. It makes you ‘local news’. Let them know what that connection is: you live there, you belong to organizations there, you went to school there, etc.. You want them to think of you as part of their community, not just some stranger who wants a favour.
Many interviewers will already have questions to ask, but you have the opportunity to add some ideas of your own, too. They will want to know a bit about you and your book ahead of time. Don’t expect them to read it. They may not have the time. Having questions prepared ahead of time lets them off that hook and gives you some control over what you want the audience to see and hear. It’s good for both sides.
One station asked me to read for five minutes. That’s a bonus but not usual.
Radio interviews often happen over the phone rather than in the studio. I don’t know which is more nerve-wracking: to sit facing your interviewer with a headset on, or to hold a receiver to your ear talking with someone you’ve never met. I’ve done both and each has its drawbacks and advantages.
Television is more anxiety-inducing than radio. My experiences were very positive. The host of the show wants viewers to enjoy the presentation. It is their job to make you look good so they look good. Again, having those predetermined questions goes a long way toward helping you feel prepared and getting nerves under control. Make sure to find out if you may display props, such as a poster about your book, and if they will display the actual book(s). Offer them links to your website/blog and where viewers can see and buy your book(s).
Both radio and TV stations usually offer you an opportunity to buy the links to the interview for your own use on social media. My last radio link cost me nothing, the TV link cost $25.00.
Blog interviews are a different kettle of fish. These are often offered by contacts you have made on social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn. They can be time-consuming but will get you exposure to all of the host’s contacts. To find these you need to develop an on-line presence, to network with other authors and bloggers. Here, it’s all about how you behave on-line. Join select groups. Participate in a positive way. Be nice courteous and be present. The offers will either come to you directly or you will find opportunities to request one from a blogger you meet. Soon you will have more than you can handle. You may find you need to become selective about which invitations you accept.
Good luck with finding your own book signings, interviews and blog interviews.
31 thoughts on “Getting Book Signings and Interviews”
Great advice, Yvonne, thank you for this. I’m going to have to step WAY out of my comfort zone to try some of these things!
I know. It’s not my happy place either. But if I can do it so can you. It gets easier the more you do it – but never easy.
Yvonne, you are so industrious. How are you handling the actual sales at the signings? What if someone asks if the books are returnable? Thank you for sharing, I am sure you have put a great deal of time putting it all together.
Thank you. I think there are several in IU more industrious than I am. It takes me two years for each book. 🙂
I’ve never been asked about returning a book. Maybe they know that once it’s signed that’s not an option. I think if that ever happens at a bookstore I’ll suggest they check with the store’s policy before I sign it.
Wow. These are great ideas, Yvonne. I wouldn’t have thought of these on my own.
It’s nice to know I can offer something, R.J. I know I’ve had some great information from you, too.
Great ideas, Yvonne!
Thanks, Laurie. I hope they help some folks.
Thanks Yvonne… excellent advice.
Thank you, Jacob.
You are very brave, thank you for the inside look and advice.
lol, not brave at all, just determined.
I’ve known for some time that I need to go around to our local (non-chain) bookstores. You may have just given me the kick in the pants I need to get going on that, Yvonne.
Great, Lynne. I hope it yields results.
Very helpful information! Thank you so much for sharing these tips. I feel like I have a few more tools in my pocket now.
Thank you, that’s what it’s all about. 🙂
Thanks Yvonne, that’s a great tip about having prepared questions. Personally I love public appearances and interviews (I did quite a lot of it in the job I had before joining the fire department). I’ve had quite a bit of success with community papers and independent books stores. Libraries are another great avenue. Most of them are on shoe string budgets and are starving for programming. I offer to donate a book if they’ll let me sell books after a reading/Q&A. (hint: donate the book after sales finish!)
Radio and TV is another matter. Like the major papers, with very, very few exceptions, they simply won’t touch an indie book. At least that’s the situation in Toronto, perhaps because it’s the centre of Canadian publishing. The traditional publishers have established relationships with the local shows and eat up all the bandwidth. Even our venerable public broadcaster, the CBC won’t deal with indies, unless they score a SIGNIFICANT award.
I’m not giving up though. Now that I’ve got some favorable independent reviews and some minor awards, I’m going to make the rounds again. It reminds me a lot of dating in high school – there’s a lot of rejection, but it didn’t kill me then and it won’t now. And one of them might just say yes.
I expect you’re right about Toronto as it’s the centre for the Writers Union of Canada, the “old school gate-keepers”. I’m fortunate in that I live close to Kitchener-Waterloo and that Rogers is eager for local input.
Thank you, Yvonne for the great tips. Now I need to put it all in action!
Greta, since you write great kids books I’d be approaching school libraries as well. If you offer to read and hook the kids they’ll buy your book for the library or even classroom. And I think kids’ books are less of a hard sell for other local venues as well. Gather up your courage and go for it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 🙂
You have more faith in me than I have. 🙂 I have to get over my shyness. I have contacted some of the local schools and have been waiting for a reply. It’s time to re-contact them.
You can do it, Greta. I know you can. 🙂
Very useful reminders here.
I have been invited by my local BBC radio station to do a slot on their prime morning show this Thursday, featuring my latest African Memoir, Sorcerers and Orange Peel.
I’ve done interviews with them before with previous books, but it’s always exciting to be invited back. It’s also a good opportunity to plug my participation in a local literary festival in ten day time.
Being invited back means they liked what you did last time. Congrats and enjoy. 🙂
I need to do this, too, with my new book coming out next month. Thanks for the push!
We all need those nudges once in a while. 🙂
Good advice, Yvonne!
Thank you for sharing. I will start visiting local private bookstores in San Jose to promote my book, Shattered by the Wars (but Sustained by Love).
Great. Good luck to you. 🙂
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