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