Sunday, October 27, 2019

Book Signings — are they worth it?





The financial and non-tangible benefits and losses to consider before a book signing. How I did it and what happened.




Another foray into the world of standing by a table with my books and greeting people who walk through the door of Chapters/Indigo is over.


My feet hurt, my face is cracked from smiling, and I sold ten books in five hours. (Whoopee)
A fellow author had a table across from me. Stiff and barely smiling, she sat behind the table the entire five hours. She sold two books to friends who came out to support her. (Ouch)

Signings are often a part of a writer’s marketing plan. How to approach them is the question often asked.


  • I have a plan for these signings. I know I’m there for five hours and I’m ready to enjoy the day. (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
  •  I greet everyone with a smile and a “good day.”
  • I offer comments, “You look like you are having a good day.”(The person in question, smiled, slowed and although they didn’t come and see my books, they did LOOK at them.). Every so many smiles/comments someone comes over to my table.
  •  I thank them for stopping by and ask if they like mysteries.

If they say, no, I smile, “my books are not for you — but there are great selections over here” (pointing to a table with stacks of books). The rare person has bought one of mine ‘for a friend.’

If they like mysteries, I briefly tell them about mine. Canadian mysteries set in Nova Scotia, suspense and danger in a “clean read” context. (Some state they’ll recommend them to their grandmother!)
  • I thank them for stopping by, for visiting with me, whether they buy or not mentioning that one perk of these events is getting away from the computer and meeting people.


Facts on the process.

  •  Calgary is a big city. People don’t hear about local authors. They are often in a hurry. Under these circumstances, making sales is difficult.
  • As an Indie author, I’ve found that for paper books, hand-selling like signings is the way they get sold. However, I sell very few at public signings. At conferences, I’m able to sell a few more especially if I have been one of the presenters.
  • Talking to others in my writing community, I find that selling ten books at my store signing, was better than most. (Average # sold — 4 books)
 Was it worth it?

Financially, it was dubious. The books were on consignment and the store took 45% of the sales price. Factoring in what it cost to buy the copies in the first place, I netted $2.35 per copy. Total for five hours of time — $23.50. (And that is not factoring in the time needed to create the story and write the book.)
 In terms of exposure, I know I found one fan. (There may have been others. I have no way of tracking.) A lady was at my first two signings was waiting at the store for me when I came for the third. She’d enjoyed the first two books and wanted to make sure to get the third. That cheered my author’s soul.
 My books remained on ashelf in the store. This met the requirement of getting my books into a big book seller. After the signing, Chapters/Indigo kept my books on consignment in that outlet only. I left them there for about a year. Two more sold.
 Would I do it again?
I look on the events I did in a big store as a learning experience. I have five books out and right now I don’t do book signings in stores. Perhaps I will again in the future. I don’t know. But for now my time is better spent writing and marketing on-line.

Published previously on www.medium.com in September 2019