Having self-published and launched three books last year, The Hallie McKinley Series books one and two (Trust Me and Identity) and Ghost Soldiers, I went from knowing virtually nothing to having success in marketing my books. It’s an amazing feeling being an unknown author and selling one of your books to a stranger. I get excited with every purchase. I now have a group of followers who love to remind me that they are waiting for my next book to come out. I would love for you to experience that too, so I’m going to share my successful techniques.
The number one thing I learned with book signings was to keep trying new ideas and build on what’s working. I have done several book readings at libraries, and while they are great fun, not many people come to them.
I have been much more successful at Half Priced Books. This book chain welcomes authors to come and set up in their store for free. I recommend your book signing be two hours long and not earlier than 11:30am on Saturday. I have received compliments from several managers and have always been invited back due to my interactions with their customers. When I see a customer, I hold out one of my bookmarks and say the following, “Would you like a free bookmark? I’m a local (or visiting) author and I’m autographing my books today.” People will stop, glance at my table, and take the bookmark I hand them. Some will stop right then and ask questions. However, most will walk by and come back later. I am always smiling, never sitting, and never on my phone. I give directions to the bathroom, hold the door when people have a box of books in their hands, and tell everyone to have a nice day when they’re on their way out.
People love to stop and ask me questions about my books, my writing techniques, and publishing. Some people just love to talk and I smile the entire time while I’m listening to their personal stories. I have met some really unique people and had some great conversations. I always focus on whoever is at the table and try to make them feel special. Keep in mind, you’re the author, the celebrity to them. The special attention you give them, makes them feel amazing. Some get so excited, they want to take a picture with you, the book, and the table.
My table has many eye catching tools to grab people’s attention. Of course, I have my books, one of which is up on a stand with a stack of copies near it. Each book has its own sign with the cost to purchase. I have a tablecloth, a beautiful fake orchid, and a wooden sign that says “Contemporary and Historical Adult Fiction.” It’s important to make your table presentable and inviting as well as letting the reader know what genre you write. For an extra personal touch, I have an iPad on a stand playing a slideshow of my family’s travel pictures.
Other things I have learned from customers, is they like seeing more than one published book on the table. It makes you look like a serious author. They also love book series. When Identity came out, my Trust Me sales doubled as people wanted to purchase both books. I also personalize the autographs and put the date. Each purchase receives a copy of the bookmark that goes with the book and I tell them I would love for them to go to my website, www.shawnsettle.com, and let me know what they think of the story. People feel special when you ask them for their opinion.
Watching my success in book sales increase each week is beyond exciting. At one of my first book signings, I had an author stop at my table. He had published eighteen books. He told me “book signings are brutal” and wished me “good luck.” Now that I have perfected the techniques I shared today, I love book signings. They are exhilarating! I have a new idea I’m incorporating into my next one. Each book now comes with twenty-five book club questions specific to the story. I hope you found these ideas helpful and best of luck to you.
Shawn frequently intertwines true stories and experiences throughout her novels. She spent most of her childhood in the coastal town of Wilmington, NC, where she started writing in the third grade. As an adult, Shawn has lived in six states as well as abroad in Australia. She is currently an elementary teacher in San Antonio, Texas, teaching underprivileged children. In 2007, her kitchen renovation was featured in the Better Homes and Garden “I Did It” column. In addition to being handy around the house, Shawn is an avid cross-stitcher and traveler. Her summers are spent traveling around the U.S. with her family. Her goal of visiting all 50 states was accomplished in June 2017, but that hasn’t stopped her from heading out and exploring more parts of the country. There is always another road trip adventure awaiting her. It’s not uncommon for places Shawn has visited to show up in her stories.