Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How to Sell 50 books (and More) at a Book Signing

I mentioned James Megellas in an earlier post. Here's an article I wrote about him a few years ago. James is now in his 90's and still selling his book.

I met Jim at the Books-a-Million in Grapevine Mills Mall in Grapevine, Texas on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. He was at a table set up by the entrance where thousands of people passed by that day. I couldn’t help but notice that nearly everyone who stopped at his table purchased one of his books, All the Way to Berlin.

“How are book sales?” I asked.

“Pretty good today. There’re lots of people buying my book for
Christmas presents.”

“How many do you suppose you’ll sell today?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’ve never sold less than 50 books at
a book signing.”

50 books! I’ve never heard of an “unknown” author selling those numbers at a book signing. I decided I better get to know Jim a little better.

James Megellas, Jim, was a 1st Lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division during WWII. He fought in the mountains outside Naples then was part of the landing at Anzio. Jim’s brigade, the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, nicknamed “Devils in Baggy Pants,” were so decimated by the carnage at Anzio that it did not rejoin its division until the famous “bridge too far” campaign of September 1944. At the end of the war, Jim was part of the occupation forces in Berlin.

Jim was the most highly decorated officer in the 82nd Airborne Division. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts.

Jim is now 86 years old. He started writing his book about his experiences in WWII at age 80. “Writing the book revitalized me,” commented Jim. It sure did. Jim is the youngest looking 86-year-old I’ve ever seen. Presidio Press picked up his book and before it was published, Ballentine purchased Presidio. So when the book came out, Ballentime Books with the Presidio Press imprint appeared on the title page.

“How did you get so many sales at your first book signing?” I asked.

Jim chuckled at that question and told me the story. His son called a local “sports talk” radio station, “The Ticket” and told them about his dad and the book. One of the talk show teams wanted to interview Jim on their show. Jim had already set up a book signing at the local Barnes and Noble Bookstore, so when he was interviewed on the air, the guys really talked up the book signing. They had such a great time with the interview that Jim was on for the whole show and after he was off the hosts continued to talk up the book signing. When Jim finally arrived at the B & N to sign books, there was a long line of people waiting on him. They sold 125 books. Jim had to start signing book plates to put in the books when they restocked.

After that, both major newspapers in Dallas and Ft. Worth reviewed the book and Jim continued to have successful signings throughout the DFW area.

Jim was also a lecturer at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. The museum did a nice postcard with Jim’s book cover and a picture of him during the War that they sent out to their members. After the lecture, Jim sold over 150 books, ran out and had to take orders for more. He will be doing similar lectures elsewhere. On January 29th, Jim will be at the D-Day Museum in New Orleans and will sign books afterwards.

I noticed that Jim was not shy about talking to everyone who passed his table.

Each person he talked to, he attempted to establish a link between them and to the subject of his book. “Are you a veteran?” or “Is your father a veteran?” or “Do you know a veteran?” are some of the questions that start out the conversation. He would then go on to tell about his WWII book. Nearly everyone he spoke to bought the book.

Jim showed me a letter from a company in Ontario, California. He has been invited to be a guest at 2004’s “Weekend of Heroes.” The company is making an action figure of Jim in his Anzio battle outfit for the event. I’m sure he’ll sell lots of books when he’s there.

Several people came up just to shake Jim’s hand and say “Thanks” for defending our country. When I left, I not only thanked Jim for being a veteran, I thanked him for showing me how to conduct a great book signing!

Monday, March 16, 2009

When Marketing Your Book, Don’t Look for Readers!

Many of the books and articles I read on marketing your book speak about finding out who will want to read your book. This is all part of finding a niche, identifying an audience for your book, etc. But I say this is wrong! If you want to sell your book, you don’t want to find people who will read your book, you want to find people who will buy your book.

But you ask, “How can people read my book unless they buy it?”

Many ways… a reader can borrow it from a friend or a library. He or she may receive it as a gift from a loved one or their company may have purchased it for them to read.

Readers are not necessarily buyers. Buyers are not necessarily readers. But all buyers are buyers. (You might have to think on that one for a minute.) So it stands to reason that if you market to the later group (the buyers), you stand a better chance of selling your book.

For instance, when you market your book to libraries, you are not marketing to readers, your are marketing to the library’s buyer of books. Libraries don’t read books, they buy them for their patrons to read.

This is even more evident if you write children’s books. Not too many children buy their own books. Parents, grandparents, schools, aunts, uncles… adults are usually the ones who buy children’s books for children to read.

Bryan Fields (www.bryanwfields.com) discovered this when he was marketing his children's book, Lunchbox and the Aliens (Henry Holt, 2007). This book is about a basset hound who is abducted by aliens and saves the world. What group would buy his book? Obviously parents of elementary school aged children. But Bryan hit on a unique group that no one had thought of before. Basset hound lovers. Bryan, who owned a basset hound, was aware of several basset hound groups, both online and off. When he announced his book with these groups, they went crazy for it. These loyal basset hound lovers were willing to buy anything having to do with their favorite canine. I’m sure many of the books that were purchased were never read, but they were bought and possibly ended up with the corners chewed!

Super salesman, James Megellas, sells so many books at his book signings that he is always in demand at the Books-A-Million in Grapevine, Texas. James’ book, All the Way to Berlin, is about his experiences as the most decorated officer of World War II. Whenever people pass his table, he’s not thinking “reader,” he’s thinking, “buyer.” He asks questions like, “Are you a veteran?” Maybe this person will purchase my book from a fellow veteran. If not, then he asks, “Do you know a veteran?” Perhaps this person will buy the book as a gift for someone they know.

I know… you want people to read your book, but before you can get it into the hands of readers, someone has to buy it. And that’s what you should be doing when marketing your book – getting the buyers to buy it. Change the focus of your book marketing efforts from the reader to the buyer. It could make the difference between ho-hum and best-seller in the book world.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mailing Lists: Create a Built-in Audience for Your Book

Have you ever bought anything at Radio Shack? If you have, you know that the salesperson nearly always asks you for your name and address. This is for no other reason than to put you on their mailing list. Radio Shack discovered many years ago that the best marketing they could do was to send a monthly sales catalog to their existing customers – someone who had already bought something from them was more likely to buy from them again.

You too can use this same marketing strategy for selling your books. Sort of…

Obviously, you won’t have sales clerks everywhere gathering names and addresses for you, so you’ll need to go about gathering your mailing list together a bit differently than the way a retail store would do it. You have two places to do this. On the Internet and… not on the Internet. You’ll want to do both. Here are some suggestions on how you might do this.

Not on the Internet

Create a form for people to fill out. Gather their name, address, and email address. Include a check box on the form for them to give you permission to send them emails. Here’s a sample:




Email: ____________________________________

[ ] Yes, send me email updates about your next book!

Now get people who buy your books or who are interested in what you have to say to fill out this form or to give you this information. How do you do that?

One way to start your list is to do so like that annoying friend who sells (insert your favorite annoying MLM, door-to-door, or party company, i.e. Amway, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, Melaleuca, Herbal Life, etc.). They started their list by gathering all the contact information they already had for their friends and family. Then they called each one to try to get them to sell (annoying company’s product or to have a party) which caused reactions like, “Dan’s coming, hide!” Your friends and family will want to avoid you too if you are selling the miracle cure that cleans your pores with magnets and rain forest tree bark, but they will probably enjoy hearing from you about your latest book. So start with friends and family. You will have a big head start if you keep an address book.

Have the form available for people to fill out at book signings, places where you speak, or wherever you may be promoting your book or yourself. Have a door prize or some such thing to encourage people to give you their contact information.

On the Internet

This can be easy if you are a techno geek who programs your own website. If not, you may have to get some help from your webmaster.

Add a form on your website similar to the paper form above. Try to capture as much contact information as you can from your visitors. Name and email at a minimum, but mailing address too if you can.

How do you get visitors to fill out the form?

You could start an email newsletter and use this form for them to sign up. You could give away a white paper, ebook, or an excerpt from your novel.

All this is much easier if you use a service like aweber.com. They make it easy to capture contact information and to send out emails to your list.

Okay. I have a list, now what?

With a list in hand, you now have one of the most powerful sales tools in the world. Protect it with your life. Make backups, print it out, put a copy in your safety deposit box. The value of your list is… priceless. Just think about what it would mean if when you are pitching your next book to a publisher you could say, “Oh yes, I have a mailing list of 10,000 fans who are dying to read my next book.”

I’ll talk more about what to do with your list in another installment.

Monday, March 2, 2009

One Tiny Change That Can Make a Huge Difference in Book Sales

Jackie King sent an email to a few on her mailing list announcing her new book with no response. She made one tiny change to her letter and sent it to a few more and immediately sold two books.

Here’s what her first email looked like:

Dear Friends and Readers:

My latest book, THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE, is now available in bookstores, online, or from AWOC.COM Publishing. The story begins with this paragraph:

“Grace Cassidy stared at the stranger’s body. He was about sixty, pot-bellied, naked, and very dead. She knew he was dead because his skin was the color of concrete. Worst of all, he was lying smack dab in the middle of her bed.”

The story in a nutshell:

…No credit cards, no cash, no resources, no job skills. Fleeced and abandoned by her husband, Grace Cassidy learns she is the prime suspect in a bizarre murder.

What is being said about The Inconvenient Corpse:

"A naked corpse in her bed is only the first surprise for our heroine in Jackie King’s charming bed-and-breakfast mystery. Cozy readers will be happy guests among these lively characters."
Marcia Preston, winner of the 2004 Mary Higgins Clark Award

"If you like bed and breakfast settings, friendly cats, delightful, quirky characters and a little tea thrown in with your murder, you’ll love The Inconvenient Corpse."
Bob Avey, Author of Beneath a Buried House and Twisted Perception

Free postage for a limited time from: sales@awoc.com
Or order direct from AWOC.COM, P.O. Box 2819, Denton TX 76202,
Phone 1-940-395-2836 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              1-940-395-2836      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Also available from:


or www.barnesandnoble.com

This is a really good sales letter – it tells me everything I need to know to make a decision to buy the book. It even has a couple of really good endorsements and tells me where I can purchase the book. Plus, since I am receiving this email, I’m probably on Jackie’s email list because I’m interested in hearing when her next book is coming out.

No one bought the book… at least she couldn’t tell if anyone did. Why?

For one thing, the most desirable place to buy the book is AWOC Books… but there is no link for someone to buy it immediately online.

There are links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but these links just go to the main websites. Once you are there, you have to do a search to find the book.

In other words, Jackie didn’t include the link(s) to the book’s landing page.

Make it easy for people to buy your book and they will.

Here’s what the last part of Jackie’s letter looked like after she made the changes.

Free postage for a limited time from AWOCBooks.com:
Or order direct from AWOC.COM, P.O. Box 2819, Denton TX 76202,
Phone 1-940-395-2836

Also available from:


Barnes & Noble

After Jackie tested this email with a few on her list and saw that it would work, she was ready to send it out to the rest of the list. Make it easy for someone to buy your book. In any sales literature, business cards, bookmarks, emails, or ads, include the URL to your book’s landing page. You’ll see a significant jump in sales.

For more on landing pages see the post: The Landing Page: Why You Need One to Promote Your Book on the Internet

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cook Up Some Book Sales

Gloria Teague’s book, Saturday Night Cocoa Fudge, is all about the type of people she grew up with in Tennessee. The title of the book comes from the treat they always had at the end of the week. Gloria was smart enough to include a recipe at the end of the book and guess what she serves at her book signings? (Put your hand down, Vern, that was a rhetorical question.) This prompted Gloria to set up a book signing at a candy store in the mall. She’ll gave out samples of the store’s cocoa fudge and sell her own books. Everyone’s happy with this arrangement. The candy store owner, Gloria, and the folks that will sample the cocoa fudge.

If you can tie your book to some type of food, you may have an easier time finding a different target audience for your book.

Of course, some books are easier to do this with than others. Mitchel Whittington turned his chicken wing cookbook into a novel, Uncle Bubba’s Chicken Wing Fling. This was an easy book to identify with food. Every chapter has at least one chicken wing recipe. There’s an index of all the recipes in the back of the novel. It’s easy for Mitchel to attract people to his table at book signings because he always has 2 or 3 sample recipes of chicken wings made up ready to serve along with napkins so they don’t smear grease on the book.

Not quite so obvious for a food tie-in was Alice J. Wisler’s novel, Rain Song. Some of the characters in the novel made an old family treat, pineapple chutney. The recipe for pineapple chutney was included at the end of the book. Alice used this theme to do a big open house in her home to announce the book. Everyone enjoyed the refreshments – including pineapple chutney – and purchased a book. This also led to a couple of the people buying multiple copies of her book to do a canning party with pineapple chutney. See the complete story here: http://www.writersweekly.com/success_stories/005147_01142009.html

Sally Jadlow had to work a little harder at finding a food theme in her book, The Late Sooner, the story of a family of homesteaders in early Oklahoma. One part of the book deals with a long drought that besieged the state. The only thing that would grow were turnips. So Sally started handing out turnip recipes to attract people at her book signings. “Do you like turnips?” is one of her icebreakers. I suggested another turnip tie-in to her. Eastham, Maine and Wardsboro, Vermont both have turnip festivals in the Fall. Go where the turnip lovers hangout to sell your book.

Some books may not lend themselves to a food theme. When promoting their book, Chic~Lit for Foxy Hens, the four authors (self-proclaimed foxy hens) would dress up with feather boas and have a large bowl of chocolate kisses on their table. “Come get a kiss from a foxy hen!” They attracted a lot of attention and sold a lot of books.

Finding a food tie-in to your book might be the way to fire up your book sales. After all, what could be better than a good book and a bit of comfort food.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Landing Page: Why You Need One to Promote Your Book on the Internet

If you want to have a book signing to promote your book, you need a place to have it. A bookstore, the library, or a restaurant are good locations. To promote your book on the Internet, you need a place to show off your book and to sell it. A landing page is the best location to do this.

A landing page? We could just call it a “web page,” but I like the sound of “landing” because that’s what you want people to do, “land” on your landing page. A landing page is where people will learn about your book and buy it. Your landing page will be an Internet address (http://www…) that you can give out to people so they can get more info about your book… and purchase it! Your landing page is the best sales tool that you have for selling your book on the Internet.

Your landing page can be a page on your web site or another web site, a BLOG, or a web site all its own. As an example, here’s a landing page for the first book I ever marketed on the Internet other than a writing book, Barbara: the Story of a UFO Investigator. http://www.awoc.com/ufo Here’s a landing page with a URL of its very own for Sally Jadlow’s historical fiction book, The Late Sooner. http://www.TheLateSooner.com

A good landing page does these two things. There are other things that a good landing page might accomplish, but these two are the most important:
  1. A good landing page gives the visitor all the information they need to make a buying decision.
  2. Information like reviews, excerpts, testimonials, chapter outlines, background information, study guides, recipes. Anything related to your book that will attract visitors and sell the book.

  3. A good landing page makes it easy for the visitor to buy.
  4. I’ve visited several landing pages that convinced me to buy their book, but I couldn’t find a place to buy it! There were no links or the links that were there sent me to a bookstore where I still had to search for the book. Make sure you have plenty of “Buy” links throughout the landing page. Links that will take a person directly to a page to buy your book by clicking on the title of the book and/or clicking on the cover of the book. Make it very obvious.

Once you have a good landing page, it’s easy to sell your book. The next sentence is the big secret to selling books on the Internet. Find interested people and get them to visit your landing page. Link to your landing page everywhere. The URL (http://www…) of your landing page is the link that you include in your emails, blog posts, your bio at the end of articles you write, advertisements on other websites, etc. You will also want to include the URL on your business card, bookmarks, post cards, banners… whatever material you use when you promote your book. I even see authors displaying the URL on their cars.

A good landing page is your first and most important tool when you begin an Internet marketing campaign for your book. Take the time to build this tool right and you will see your book sales sail.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Author Bob Avey - Mistaken for the Pizza Man

I was excited to have Bob Avey at my house overnight. He was signing books at the local Hastings Book Store that day, so I had invited him to stay over and speak to my critique group that night. He pulled up in his little red car that was completely wrapped on both sides with the image of his book cover for Twisted Perception. The first thing I thought of when I saw Bob’s car was… park this thing near the street at the bookstore so everyone knows who’s signing books!

Bob’s always been one of my favorite book promoters, so I thought I would do a little interview with him today.

Dan: What books are you promoting these days?

Bob: I'm currently promoting my two Detective Elliot novels; Twisted Perception, AWOC Books, April 2006; and Beneath a Buried House, AWOC Books June 2008. I'm also busy working on a third Detective Elliot novel, tentatively titled, Footprints of a Dancer.

Dan: Tell us about your most successful promotional tool or event.

Bob: I've never been one to follow the pack, and while many authors are out there trying to find places other than bookstores—because that's what they've been told to do—in which to hold book signings, I've done just the opposite. Contrary to what I keep reading, I've had great success at bookstores. My most successful event was at a Hastings bookstore in Muskogee, Oklahoma where I sold 40 books in about three hours. And my most successful sales tool has been to just get out there and talk to people. Don't get me wrong. Bookstores are not the only places I sell books. I've held book signings at arts and crafts fairs, antique shops, libraries and even some shady bars. The trick is to be congenial and outgoing, but in a subtle and professional manner.

Dan: What do you do regularly to promote your books?

Bob: When I am on the promotional go, I talk to people about my books wherever I go. If they seem interested, I give them bookmarks, or whatever promotional materials I have on me at the time.

Dan: So tell us about the car.

Bob: When my first book, Twisted Perception, was published, it dawned on me one day that even in my home town of Tulsa most of the people living there didn't even know I existed, much less that I had a book out. I decided an easy way to change that would be to have some magnetic signs made, the kind that you stick to the doors of your car. I called several sign companies and was told that due to the shape of my car this wouldn't work. If I drove over twenty miles per hour, the signs would blow off. Since driving around town at nineteen miles per hour didn't seem feasible, I asked what else I could do. One of the sign guys told me that I needed a wrap. I told him I didn't care for that kind of music. He went on to explain that "wrapping" is transferring a digital image to thin vinyl, which would then be applied to the car. When done right, it looks good, just like paint.

After Bob left my house the next day, my neighbor came over and asked me, “Who was that? The pizza man?”

“No,” I said. “That was Bob Avey, the Lone Ranger. Hi-ho Silver… away.”

Check out www.BobAvey.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Nancy Robinson Masters and the Grocery Store Gig

I’ve written about Nancy Robinson Masters before. (See the article “Eat the Fried Chicken Before You Sign Books”) I’ll probably write about her many more times because she is one of the most successful and innovative book promoters that I know. So I was only mildly surprised when I walked into the grand opening of a huge grocery store in Denton, Texas on Saturday and found her at a small table nestled in between a clown making animal balloons and a Dallas Cowboy linebacker who was also hawking books. Across from her at the Starbucks coffee stand was a live band. Nancy had six different books displayed on her table and she stood out like a beacon amongst all that glitter and noise.

Just to give you a little background, Nancy is the author of over 25 books and 3000 articles for both adults and children, published by such notable companies as Scholastic, Franklin Watts, Cherry Lake Publishing, and AWOC.com Publishing. Three of her books are self-published. The Horrible Halloween Costume and The Fabulous Flying Flag Farm are both hardback children’s books with color illustrations. She has sold over 20,000 copies of each book. All My Downs Have Been Ups, a hardback collection of essays about people, places and planes she has known in her career as a writer and pilot, has sold over 60,000 copies. Nancy knows how to sell books.

Nancy does school visits; motivational speeches and workshops for teachers, clubs, and corporations; and speeches and workshops for writers’ groups and conferences. One of the topics of conversation I had with her this weekend was the fact that she had so many speaking and school visits planned the next two weeks that she wouldn’t have any time for writing. I’m sure she will figure out how to juggle her time for what she needs to do. I’ve never known her to miss a deadline or fail to complete the terms of a writing contract.

Now, back to our story. You might ask, “How did Nancy stand out with all that was going on at the grocery store grand opening?” For one thing, Nancy dressed the part. She was attired in a blue straw hat, dangling red-white-and-blue earrings and vest. Her entire appearance said, “God bless America, apple pie, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and My Country ’Tis of Thee.” When people approached, she greeted them with, “Hi, I’m Nancy Robinson Masters and I’m the author of all these books.” That Dallas Cowboy linebacker only had one book to sell. He didn’t stand a chance.

I think this was the first “grand opening” that Nancy did, but she has done book signings in several of the grocery store chain’s outlets throughout the state of Texas. She managed to sign up as one of the chain’s “preferred authors.” Her goal is always to sell at least 30 books at a store and so far she has managed to do that while sitting next to the special, “buy 10, get $5.00 off on Rotel Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles.”

So the moral of this story is—look for places other than bookstores to sign books—it just might pay off.

BTW. Nancy sold 54 books that Saturday.

Contact Nancy through her web site: www.nancyrobinsonmasters.com. She’s worth having at your next writer’s conference or meeting.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Radio and Book Signings: A Marriage Made in Writer’s Heaven

James Megellas, an unknown author, was a guest on “The Ticket” radio station. That evening at his first book signing, he sold 125 books—every book in the store.

Was this an anomaly? Maybe. But any author could do the same.

Book signings and radio just seem to go together. The author that can get on the radio and entertain an audience will do well at his or her book signings.

But how does one set up a radio appearance and book signing? Which comes first, booking the radio show or the book signing? It really doesn’t matter which you set up first. If you have one, you can easily snag the other.

Find a popular radio program that has guests. The better the ratings, the more people there will be listening to you and hearing about your book signing. No matter where you are signing, you will be able to locate a radio station and its web site here: http://www.radio-locator.com.

Find out the ratings (how many people listen) here: http://www.arbitron.com.

Contact the host of the program and offer yourself as a guest. Let them know that you are appearing at xyz for a book signing. Will they take you? Yes, if you have something to say of interest to their listeners. It was very easy for James Magellas to have something interesting to say. He wrote about his experiences in World War II. He was the most decorated officer in his unit. The radio show, “The Hardliners,” was on a sports talk radio station listened to mostly by men and boys who enjoyed his war stories.

What if you’ve written a novel? What do you talk about? Dorothy Garlock, well-known writer of historical romance novels, says, “You need to have something to talk about. I’m interested in old home remedies and recipes. I spend the entire time exchanging tales of frontier medicine and Grandma’s recipes with listeners.” Getting phone calls while on the air lets the radio station hosts know that they have a good draw for their show. Word gets around—your next appearance will be easier to get.

Set up your book signing at a bookstore. Most bookstores will be happy to host your book signing, especially when you tell them you will be on the radio and announcing the event. You don’t have to have your book signing at a bookstore. Some towns don’t even have a bookstore. Writers have successfully used libraries, restaurants, antique stores, fairs, retirement homes, etc. to host book signings.

Mike Salerno, owner of Salerno’s Restaurant in Flower Mound, Texas, received a call from former resident and writer, Jim Dent. Could Jim have a book signing at his favorite restaurant? Mike had never had a book signing in his restaurant, but he realized that having such an event could bring him some new customers. So he agreed. Jim arranged for the local bookstore to handle the book sales; then he went on three different radio shows the day of the signing. That evening, over 100 people showed up at the restaurant and more than 75 books were sold. The restaurant owner was happy. The bookstore manager was happy. And of course, the writer was very happy.

Radio and book signings. A marriage made in writer’s heaven. Don’t be the bridesmaid with your next book. Get married to radio and turn your next book signing into a major success.

* Note: This article was originally published on FundsForWriters.com

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sign Books Before You Eat the Fried Chicken

“I once had an impromptu book signing in a hospital waiting room and sold 18 books,” said author Nancy Robinson Masters (www.nancyrobinsonmasters.com).

I was sitting across from Nancy at a table in a small candy store. We had just had lunch at the popular and noisy fried chicken place next door and found this location where we could talk without being interrupted by waiters doing the hokey pokey in the aisles.

“You sold books at a hospital waiting room?” I barely got the words out because my mouth was hanging wide open.

“Yes,” Nancy said. “I was talking to the receptionist and I just happened to have my book with me. I laid the book on the counter in front of her and explained that I was the author of the book. She boomed in a big voice, ‘You’re the author of this book?’ Everyone was looking at me by then and I started talking about it and the next thing I knew I was going out to my car and getting a box of books. I had an autograph session right there in the hospital.”

This led to a discussion on why she didn’t do book signings in bookstores. There’s too much competition with other authors and “you’re competing with thousands of books all around you.”

She’s right. An author needs to get creative when it comes to marketing his or her book these days. And bookstore appearances don’t always work well. But book signings can be very lucrative. Especially if you try them at locations other than a bookstore.

Here are a few successful stories:

  1. Gloria Teague (www.gloriateague.com) started talking about her new book while waiting in line at Wendy’s Hamburgers. Three of the workers and two people in line purchased books that she just happened to have in the trunk of her car.

  2. Paula Alfred (www.paulaalfred.com) wanted to set up a book signing in her home town of Poteau, Oklahoma. There are no bookstores in Poteau, so she asked a retirement/assisted living home to host the book signing. This was front page news. She sold over 60 books.

  3. Bob Avey (www.bobavey.com) thinks “outside the box” when it comes to book signings. He’s always trying something new. Bob had a booth at the watermelon festival in Rush Springs, Oklahoma. His latest mystery, Beneath a Buried House, didn’t have much to do with watermelons, but it does take place in Oklahoma. Bob sold 27 books.

  4. Kathy Lynn (www.anniesbook.com) set up a booth on the street in Cowan,Tennessee during Polly Crocket days and sold her historical Cherokee Indian novels. She sold 250 books.

  5. Charles W. Sasser (www.charlessasser.com) had a true crime book that took place in Oklahoma. His publisher gave him over 500 copies of the book. He shared a booth at the State Fair in Tulsa. He sold out in one weekend.

  6. Craig Roberts (www.riflewarrior.com) self-published a book on the JFK assassination. He set up a booth in Dallas at a JFK Convention and sold out of his initial print run of 2000 copies.

Nancy Robinson Masters, after telling the hospital waiting room story, suggested that “anywhere a lot of people are waiting is a good place for a book signing.” Places like the fast lube, the car wash, or the barbershop. “Those folks need something to read!”

Just then the proprietor of the candy store piped up, “Folks wait in here to get into the chicken place next door on Friday and Saturday nights. We’re always full. You could have a book signing right here!”

Nancy’s reply was, “Let me give you my card and we’ll set something up.”

This article originally appeared in Writer's Weekly