How to Get a Book Signing

Okay, you are marketing your new novel.  You are an author with an independent publishing house, using POD press.  You want to get a book signing at your local bookstore.  What do you do?

Before you do anything, you need to be prepared.  You’re going to be having conversations with decision makers, and you need to be ready to answer all kinds of questions.  Before you start calling bookstores do the following:

  1. Gather reviews.  Send your book to readers and beg for reviews–honest reviews.
  2. Write a press release.  I say “Write a press release,” because it is ridiculous to pay someone else $300 to write one for you.  After all, you need a press release written because you are a writer. (More on that later–like in a separate blog entry.)
  3. Find calendar dates and times that work for you and write them down.
  4. Know your ISBN number.
  5. Research whether or not your book is available for the store to purchase.  To do this, go to the store website, and search for your book.  If they can order it, it will be in their list.  If it is an independent store with no website, you can always call and ask if it is available.  Helps to disguise your voice, or practice your British accent.
  6. Write yourself a little script, so that when you are put on hold for the store manager and you’ve listened to muzak for so long you’ve forgotten why you’ve called, you’ll be able to read your script and still sound intelligent.
  7. Spend a few minutes in the mirror repeating the following, “My book is good enough.  My book is smart enough.  Doggone it, people will like it!”

Once you’ve done all that, it is time to start dialing.  When you connect with the store, this will happen:

  1. Someone will answer.  It may be someone who sounds like a nitwit.  Be pleasant.  This should go without saying, but you never know.  No matter who answers the phone, or how they answer it, be kind.  Ask to speak to the store manager, bearing in mind that if it is a nitwit answering the phone, this might terrify them.  No one ever asks to speak to the manager because they are happy, do they?
  2. When the store manager picks up, say something like this, “Hi, [store manager’s name].  My name is Nextbig Thing.  I’m a local author and my new novel is available in your list.  I was calling to find out how to set up a book reading and signing event at your store.”
  3. The manager will probably ask you for the name of your book, or your ISBN.  Then, she’ll look it up and see if she already has some in her store, or how easily she can order them.
  4. Your book is POD.  She will say something like, “Oh.  Your book is POD.”
  5. You will say something like, “Yes.  I am published through Awesomesauce Press, and I’m getting some great reviews…

You know that’s not going to cut it, right?  Here is where you need to be able to sell.  You need to be able to tell the manager WHY it is worth their time to have you taking up space in their store.  Let them know:

  • Why you picked their store.  Do you live just down the road, and are all your neighbors excited to come?  Do you work nearby, and your whole office building wants to support you?
  • How you know your books will sell.  Neighbors?  Coworkers?  You are a Duggar?
  • What marketing/promotion/advertising you’ve already done.  Did you have a good signing at Coffee Houz?  Did the Monday Morning News review your novel?  Are you trending on Twitter #YOURNOVEL?  Did JK Rowling write a blurb for you?

Anything you can think of to distinguish yourself–be prepared to say it.  Be shameless.  You already sold your book to a publisher, now you’re just telling a bookstore manager why the publisher thought your book would sell.  Piece of cake!  Very dry, hard to swallow cake if you hate cold calling as much as I do, but still cake.

After that, the conversation can go any which way.  Your job is to keep a positive attitude.  If the manager isn’t sure about the book, at least she’ll be sure about you.  She might like you so much, she wants to help you.

However the conversation goes, make sure to do two things:

  1. SAY THANK YOU.  The manager just took time out of her day to talk to you.  Again, it should go without saying, but it’s important enough to repeat.
  2. Get the manager’s email address.  Tell her you want to send her your contact information.  Then, follow up with an email.  In that email, say thank you again, attach your press release, any reviews you’ve received, and be sure to include your address so they know you truly are local.

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Hopefully, everyone will say yes!  If not, eventually, someone will.  Just keep plugging away.

Good luck!

Please Sign my Book

I am adding new dates to the TIARA TROUBLE book signing tour.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 12, when I will be at the Lewisville, TX Barnes & Noble from 1–2pm.  BARNES & NOBLE, y’all!  That’s like a real bookstore and stuff!

I just got official word back on it yesterday, but I spent most of last night daydreaming about what I would wear, how I would do my hair, wondering if I should try to match my outfit to my book cover, or just go all black so that the book cover stood out against me when photographed.  I don’t want to clash with my book!  But I don’t want to look like a ninja either.  Destinee isn’t an all black kind of character, and since I am her envoy to the real world, I need to represent her style as best I can.

I finally decided on wearing a sweater that picks up the color Destinee is wearing on the book cover and black trousers.  So, when photographed, the light background of the cover will pop against me, but will still tie together nicely.  I haven’t decided on my hair, or my shoes, yet.

Leslieann knows me well enough that her first email this morning was to ask me what I planned to wear to the B&N event.  Ha!

I am especially excited for this one because a B&N signing is a hard get for a new author out of a small press.  Most small presses use Print on Demand publishing, rather than offset publishing.  With offset printing, a camera ready copy of the manuscript is printed from plates.  Offset, or Traditional Printing happens in bulk for a much lower cost, and allows presses to make better sales deals with buyers.

Say you are an author on Biggest Publishing House Ever’s list.  When you sell YOUR NOVEL, they will use marketing tools to determine how many of your books they should print, and will do it all at once with offset printing.  Then, they sell those books to bookstores in batches.  Maybe Your Local Bookstore buys 20 of them.

If the book sells well, Your Local Bookstore will keep ordering more to put on the shelves.  If the book does not perform, Your Local Bookstore may do a couple of things.  1.  They might put your book on sale and hope the new, lower price makes it move.  2.  Send it back to the vendor who sold it to them for a credit.

If you are an author with Independent Press House, when you sell YOUR NOVEL, it will likely be printed on demand.  Instead of plates being made, etc, etc, a digital copy goes to the press, and they print each book as it is ordered.  It is a much more expensive way to publish, and that cost is passed along to the buyer.

YOUR NOVEL will be available to everyone on every major retailer’s website, but might not make it into a store because a) A small press is less likely to work with a distributor whose job it is to talk national chains into carrying your books in stores, b) a store is less likely to purchase a POD because they cost more AND they are non-returnable.

Whereas books they buy from offset presses can be returned for credit if they don’t move, POD books cannot.  Your Local Bookstore is just stuck with your books if they can’t sell them.

When bookstores do a signing, they need to sell about 30 books in order to offset the cost of the event.  If your book is a POD, the risk on an unknown author is not worth the work of setting up the event.

That’s not to say a bookstore won’t let you come in and do an event if your book is POD, it just means that your sales pitch when asking to hold or be part of an event needs to be that much better.

Some bookstores are sensitive to the plight of the indie press, and they hold semi-annual events allowing a certain number of authors to come in and do signings.  With the larger group, the cost of holding/promoting the event does not really change, but the likelihood of selling 30 books increases.  That doesn’t mean they will order 30 of your books, but it does mean that whatever of yours they have on hand, you’ll be there to sign.  And, in these events, bookstores will often let you bring your own books in to sell on consignment.

The better prepared you are to pitch your novel, the likelier you are to be invited to do an event.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what to do to get prepared.  Maybe I’ll know what I’m doing with my hair by then.



Destination Unknown

I tend to write like this:  Writewritewritewritewritecollapse.

Then, I go back into my document the next day and delete the last two pieces of writewrite, pick up from writewritewrite, and start all over again.  I find that I can usually get out about 5,000 good words, with 2,000 or 3,000 that either don’t belong right in that spot, or don’t fit at all.

I hit a really good streak last night, getting Destinee out of some physical peril, only to have her wake up to social peril.  Then, I wrote her out of the social peril.  What I need to do tonight is scratch that “wrote her out of the social peril” bit and stretch that conclusion.

I like to fix problems before I go to sleep at night.  I know how Destinee will solve her problems, but I need to write the process so it doesn’t read like, “This happened to Destinee, and she thought this, and she did that, and we all lived happily ever after.  Hey, Royce!”

Yesterday, I was talking about the balance between writing a feminist character (and make no mistake, Destinee is a feminist), who is a beauty pageant pro and makes a living off her looks.  Feminists come in all shapes, sizes, and occupations, with varying degrees of concern over what one might call exploitation, and another might call career path.  That’s a theme running through Destinee 2 (working title MISS MAYHEM.)

How much of yourself can you put on show and still maintain control of your image?  How much of your image has to do with what you show, and how much has to do with what you tell?  At what point does empowerment become embarrassment?  I’d say it’s different for every woman.  And if you can suss out those issues and catch a killer at the same time, I’d say you deserve a nice, big slice of pie.

I need to give Destinee some time to marinate in the juices of her latest social debacle and soften up her self-confidence so we can get some character growth out of her.


Interview with the Author: Everybody Wants to be a Cat

So it’s not an interview today, but a whole slew of authors to get to know.  My new friend and fellow author under the Cozy Cat Press umbrella, Blanche Day Manos, did all us kittens a solid by putting together a listing of our blogs and book links on her own truly delightful blog.  Since she did all the heavy lifting, I am simply stealing her work and pasting it below for you.   Check out these cats.  Cats are cool.

First, there is the editor and publisher of Cozy Cat Press, Patricia Rockwell. Patricia authors the Essie Cobb senior sleuth series and Pamela Barnes acoustic mysteries. Her website

If you go to Lee Stansfield’s Facebook page, you will be met with a dazzling array of teacups, illustrating her Mr. T and The Traveling Teacup books. Her Facebook handle is Leslie Matthews Stansfield.

Writer Dreama Reed has a brand new website called Check this out and meet Dreama.

And then there are the Poppy Cove mysteries of Barbara Jean Coast. This is actually a writing duo of two friends, Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff. Their book is Strangled By SilkBarbara Jean also interviewed me a while back and was this writer thrilled!! Their blog site is:

Julie Seedorf  has a beautiful website and blog and is author of Granny Hooks a Crook and Whachamacallit ThingamajigGo to and you’ll see what I mean.

Nanci Rathbun’s latest book is Truth Kills.  This talented writer’s interesting website is: The eye-catching backdrop is a cityscape.

It would be hard to beat B. J. Gilbertson’s title or picture for his book, Deathbed and Breakfast.  His website has atmosphere and to spare.

Another fellow Cozy Catter is Joyce Oroz. I have been privileged to be included in one of her interviews. Her website lists her latest book, Cuckoo Clock Caper.

Steve Kaminski writes the Dabbling Detective series, It Takes Two to Strangle and Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk. Visit his website at

Amy Beth Arkawy is radio host, author, and creativity coach. Imagine my excitement when she interviewed me on live radio! What a thrill. Amy authors the Eliza Gordon books, Dead Silent and Killing TimeYou will find more fascinating facts on her website.

Lane Stone brings us mysteries set in the beautiful state of Georgia. Two of her books are Domestic Affairs and Current Affairs.  For more about this talented author, go to herwebsite.

Timya Owen’s author page is on Facebook: Timya Owen. She is writing the Fernbridge Mysteries.

Marlo Hollinger has an eye-catching blog. Really neat and entertaining thoughts.

And then, of course, there’s the Darcy Campbell/Flora Tucker mother/daughter sleuth series written by co-authors Barbara Burgess and Blanche Day Manos (that would be me). Our latest is Grave Shift. My website and daily blog can be found at  (Oh! You’re on it!) The latch string is always out and I invite you to come back and visit tomorrow and the next day and the next… In fact, all of us Cozy Catters invite you to visit and look up our books. We think you’ll be glad you did.

Destinee’s Feet in the Sand

great-escape-tour-banner-large-TIARA-TROUBLE-640Is it obvious yet that I am very, very, very excited?  Click to find out where I’ll be on this tour, and how to read my interviews, excerpts, and reviews.

I really want you all to like Destinee.  I think she’s the kind of girl you could take on a road trip.  If you’re going to be stuck in a book with a character for a few hours, it ought to be someone whose feet you wouldn’t mind seeing on the dash.  Destinee is that girl for me.  She would share the driving, the gas money, and tips on how to get the perfect pedicure.  Also, she would NEVER put her feet on your dash.  That’s tacky.