Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Love-Hate Relationship

In Search of Adventure (The Comrades of Honor #2)
Starbucks's book signing.
No. Not with any person. That title threw you for a loop for a moment there, didn't it?

What is my love-hate relationship?


I love seeing the happiness and interest on people's faces at book signings. I love connecting with readers and fans around the world. I love that royalty check or direct deposit that happens every few months. I love the feeling of my calligraphy pen scratching the page of a fresh-off-the-printer book. I love talking to others about book scenes, who their favorite character was, and ideas for future titles.

But there are definitely some aspects I cannot stand about book marketing!

  • I am shy. Talking to complete strangers in public places such as libraries or coffee shops fills me with panic. The sight of an approaching stranger can make my whole elevator pitch completely desert my mind (What is my book about anyway?)
  • Having to explain to someone what exactly historical-fiction is is slightly intimidating. (If you ever stopped to think about it, historical-fiction can come across as an oxymoron to some people!)
  • Just that whole thing about money. Ever since I started teaching piano at age 15, I have hated talking about  money. I dislike charging people, whether it's for writing services, piano instruction, or book selling. I like to get the money - I just dislike having to remind someone or give them a total.

No matter what your fear about marketing, it can be overcome. It really can. Today, we'll talk about book signings. I've both been to some and hosted my own.

Bonhoeffer Tour with Erix Metaxas.
Here are a few tips!

  • Pray about it. Give God all your worries and cares. Ask Him to let your event be successful - and then just leave it at that.
  • Relax. Take several deep breaths, drink an extra cup of coffee, and smile. Resolve to have fun, to appreciate every sale, and simply love every customer.
Tessa Emily Hall Purple Moon signing.
  • Have candy. Please, this is the number one rule to book signings. I hate to sound devious, but there are tricks to the trade. Kids will come running to the table for the candy, parents will have to chase them down, and viola! They are at your table. If you bring chocolate covered coffee beans or espresso candy, stressed out individuals will appear out of nowhere. Offer them two or three espresso pieces, they'll relax and warm up, and pretty soon you'll be talking books. Trust me, I have personal experience on this one. ;) And, if all else fails, you can pop the candy into your own mouth.
  • Get over the fact that you are talking about you. Because you aren't. I struggled with this (I sometimes still do), but...praise God for my consultants and agents! They told me in the gentlest and wisest way that it isn't my book, but God's. And it's true. God gave us the story, the vision and strength to write it, and now He wants us to share it with the world. Humbly bear in mind that you owe everything to God and it was His idea in the first place, then go give your spill. Give your elevator pitch. Allow that smile to tug at your mouth and that glow to come to your eyes. This is the job God gave you to do. Do it joyfully, with confidence, and with the knowledge that you owe everything to Him.
  • Stop worrying about the money thing. (Yes, I am preaching to myself here.) This is what you do. This is your job just as much as any nurse, electrician, pastor, or barista. They get paid, you get paid. To make it easier, you can do what I do: give discounts, free shipping, or something else. :)
  • Do something unique and fun! I am going to be going in medieval costume to my next signing. If you write historical-fiction, go in costume. Maybe you write children's book. Dress up as a grandparent or a tribal story-teller or maybe even Mother Goose. ;) Do something to put yourself and others at ease and have fun!
  • Give a chance for a giveaway. People love free things!
  • Don't get discouraged. We've all had that experience where someone talks at the table forever, then leaves without buying a book. You can look at it from a loss point of view. Or you can look at it as you've blessed someone by giving them their time. I've had this happen, then go to another social event purely unattached to books and seen that same person again. You know what? They remember you as the kind author who talked to them.
  • Take pictures with your readers! They'll get a thrill, you'll get another photo for your website photo gallery.
  • Lastly, even if you don't sell many books, tell yourself it is OK. Chances are, you've handed out a dozen or more business cards. You've gotten your name out there. That is so important! Did you know most people have to hear about a book 10 times before they buy it? People now know about you. Hey, maybe they'll buy the ebook. :) And, according to my marketing agent, any exposure is good exposure.

What is your experience with book signings? Any questions?

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog or Facebook to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!


  1. I absolutely loved this post, as I could relate to many of the things you mentioned. Even the simple question "What is your book about?" becomes scary when you're already nervous. Bringing candy to a book signing? Now that's a *sweet* idea! :D Thanks for sharing your tips with us.

    1. It does become scary, doesn't it? Ah, yes, the candy works wonders. ;)

  2. Thanks so much for sharing, Alicia! I loved this post; It was very encouraging to read your tips on book signing. I still have so much to learn as a new author and am thankful for all these posts on this blog. :-)

    Have a great day!

    His Princess,

    1. I am so glad it was helpful! :) I've been blessed to have so many help me in my author walk. I think one always learns new things, even if you are famous as Francine Rivers. :)

  3. I just needed that! Thankyou so much Alicia! :D


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