“How do you get people to a book signing?” The houseguest who asked this innocent question may have regretted it, because my answer was lengthy and detailed. Nothing can be left to chance for a successful event!
PRESS RELEASE. This is my foundational campaign piece, and I write it carefully, with important facts in the first two paragraphs followed by lots of detail, including everything that makes the author fascinating and all the local connections that I can make. Whenever possible I like to send along a color—and colorful–photograph of the author. Once in a while I get a feature piece, including the color photograph. More often a quiet couple of paragraphs appear, hidden away and easily missed. It doesn’t matter. If you try this and are disappointed more than once, don’t give up! Publicity Rule #1: Never complain! Rule #2 (corollary): Appreciate any attention you get!
My press release also serves as an announcement sent to radio and newspaper community calendars. (Keep a current publicity address list and add contacts as you make them.)
ADVERTISING. For me this means the local newspaper. I run a boxed ad with my store logo, including the author’s name, latest book, and date and time of the event. There’s no point in having an event if people don’t know about it. The ads also keep your bookstore name in people’s minds, whether they attend a specific event or not.
BLOG. My blog, “Books in Northport,” currently carries a right-hand column feature of all summer author events. From time to time I write an entire post on an upcoming event or include a short reminder in an unrelated post. The press release is pretty objective; my blog is subjective, with my personal connections to the authors and/or feelings about their work as part of the story.
FACEBOOK. This works well to keep local people reminded of events at my bookstore–just a breezy line or two, sometimes with a link to a blog post. I’ll often get “Thanks for the reminder” messages on my status.
E-MAIL. I’m a member of both the local Chamber of Commerce and Friends of the Library, so the presidents of each organization forward my announcements to everyone on their mailing lists, and the value of these connections is incalculable. I also send e-mail announcements and reminders to a variety of reading friends and customers.
FLIERS. This season I have an 8”x11” flier on cardstock listing all my author events. As an event draws near, I xerox the flier for wider, less expensive distribution, circling in red the author nearest on the horizon. Cardstock and paper fliers are posted in the store, available for take-home, and distributed and posted in the nearby geographical area.
WORD OF MOUTH. Talk about events coming up. Don’t go on and on until people’s eyes glaze over, but mention what you have on the schedule and how excited you are. Your excitement may be contagious!