Small Press Authors: Book Signings

A lot of people are aware that there’s a rift between authors promoted by large publishing houses and writers who have either published themselves or are small press authors*. But everywhere we look, we see change in the industry. Traditional authors have dwindled in number. The largest of the booksellers promote fewer and fewer of the revered writers while the work of less known authors is being designated to the most easily ignored slots, far in the back of the store. Yet, the first thing you see when you walk through their magnificent doors is that electronic book reader almost everyone you know has or wants.

small press authorsThe old way of thinking about authors changes as rapidly as the industry itself and book signings are not what they used to be. That’s the best news, because they shouldn’t be what they used to be. One long boring line leading up to a tired looking writer who desperately wants a drink of water or worse, an embarrassed writer at an empty table. With the fewer well-known authors being promoted by the leading booksellers and more self published authors delivering their files to electronic readers through direct online marketing, there is an over abundance of authors. And no one knows who any of them are…

How does the owner of local bookstore, the small press author or self-published author, and the book collector thrive together in this new industry?

Well, here’s the problem: an unknown author only draws a small crowd of his or her friends and family when they schedule their book signings, the local bookstore owner has no incentive to host an author who cannot draw in new customers, and the book collectors won’t leave their houses and see an unknown author.

And the most famous authors are busy, very busy…

But here’s the solution: multiple author book signings.

If there is more than one small press or self-published author signing books at an event, it removes the focus from the unknown author and redirects it to the activity itself: book signing. Also, with more than one author present, collectors, readers, and writers know their odds of discovering something that speaks to them personally has increased. And the authors, some times shy or simply dull individuals, often enjoy the opportunity to mingle without the pressure of the spotlight.

Certainly the debate about the fate of the paper book will continue to rage as ebooks grow in number and scope, but there is no denying that it has generated a surge in the number of new readers and writers. And the fatalists who think paper may ever become passé, I challenge them to try signing an ebook. It’s just not the same.

*The definition of a small press according, at least as far as the authors of the Writer’s Market are concerned, is one that grosses less than $50 million dollars.

6 thoughts on “Small Press Authors: Book Signings”

  1. “”Authors can sign only printed books!” Nice point–and maybe a bumper sticker?”

    Hmmmm! How about watermarks on an otherwise blank e-page?

    Of course if the battery runs out of juice…

    Bruce, It does sound like a good idea re: multiple authors and it could be advertised as more of a literary party than a book signing.

  2. We’re about to schedule our first multiple-author signing.

    We’ve done many individual signings, but most have only sold 1-2 copies (if any). We did have one event that sold 24+ copies and another that did about 10.

    I’ve heard that multi-signings are quite effective. Thanks, Bruce.

    • Great Shane…wish I could take credit for this but it was submitted by one of our writers and I can’t seem to figure out who. If the writer drops by – can you let me know so that you are credited properly.

  3. At New York Comic Con there was a version of an author signing an ebook: DC comics gave away an ipad the back of which had been handpainted by Jim Lee. A very expensive version of an author’s signature, though.

    • Wow Matthew! I tell You what. I would be putting that iPad facedown that is for sure. After a few coatings of clear acrylic.

      Hmmm. What if the acrylic should yellow after time? … Maybe I would keep it in the box and never touch it…

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