With the nerves growing with each step, I arrived with my wife and youngest child at around 10:45. After finding the manager, Danny, whom I’d arranged the event through, he welcomed me to the store asked where I would like the table to be placed, suggesting right at the front. Of course I agreed.
After getting the table and a chair, he gave me stickers to place on each book sold so the checkout staff would be able to process the purchases and tot up the total sales at the end. Then it was over to me.
I setup the table with my books on stands, business cards in their holders, picture frames with the reviews and bookmarks at each corner.
By 11:00 I was all set up and after taking photos, my wife and youngest headed off to the cinema. I was doing this and the nerves had strangely gone.
By 11:15 the footfall had been great. I was giving away bookmarks to anyone who looked at the table. Then a lovely woman stopped and paid great attention. By 11:30 I’d signed and sold my first book! I was getting in to the swing of this now.
It was interesting watching the flow of the store and people’s surreptitious looks over at my stall, but not seeming to make eye contact. Things slowed down and I found I would have to say hello to attract people’s attention, most people would smile and take the offered bookmark. Very few people ignored me completely.
When people did take interest the most common question was to ask if I was the author, their faces lighting up when I replied in the positive. After a while I would immediately say it was my book, my debut.
I spoke to some lovely people, many authors, one giving great advice about a local bookstore that stocks indie books, and one asking me for advice. As soon as I knew they were authors I gave them my card and told them about my blog.
A few friends popped by, but I was always worried that whilst I spoke to them I was missing the opportunity of interacting with the shoppers.
By 13:00 I’d sold another copy and glad I’d brought a sheet of paper with me to get them to write their name before I wrote the message and signed. I was already overjoyed with the success, not only with selling two books, but with the positive response to the book and the appearance of a local author, of which I was also questioned several times.
Things seemed to have slowed down in the shop after about 13:30 and I was already reflecting on the day, tweeting messages, but again each time I looked at my phone I worried I would missing catching someone’s eye.
There were lots of opportunity for people watching. Such a massive cross-section of people come into the store, probably a wider range than if it was just a bookstore.
At 13:50 I’d sold another book, then another fifteen minutes later, plus I got a handshake too! By this time I didn’t want to stop and with twenty minutes to go I’d sold another. Someone actually came back after talking earlier in the day and bought a copy.
After one of the sales the guy had to join a long queue to purchase and I could see him reading it as he waited. In my head I was waiting for him to come past me again and ask for his money back. Instead he told me the first few chapters were great!
By 15:00 I was ready to leave. I hadn’t sat down all the time and was starving, plus I had an interview to do with a student from the local university. But I was on a high!
I chatted with the manager and he said it was one of his most successful events he’d held, knowing authors who had gone before who’d not sold a single copy despite being on site for longer than I was, plus he thought it was a quiet Saturday compared to others.
He also gave me great advice for my next signing in Reading Town Centre. He said as it is a much bigger store I will get a lot more footfall and I should contact the store and provide posters for the windows a week in advance. For these events there is generally five or so people that turn up at the start just to see the author!
He invited me back in a few months time to do it all over again. Without exception people were very supportive and with a total of five books sold, plus the promise of a few sales after the event, I will be back as I enjoyed the experience so much.
Here’s what I learnt
- Bring a bottle of water, just enough to keep the throat wet
- Organise a poster saying why I was there and a short version of the blurb
- Make eye contact and smile at as many people as possible
- If they’re close enough then hello
- Offering the bookmarks is a great introduction
- Have a copy of the book blurb showing right at the front of the table. Most people were reading the review and looking at the front cover, then I would pass them a copy of the book so they could see the blurb
- Maybe have a slider marketing stand to really show off the cover, a condensed version of the blurb and reviews. These could be either full size or A4 table top version.
I’m so please I did this. It’s given me such a great confidence in myself and made me feel that maybe I might be a real author after all!
If you enjoyed this post then why not subscribe to my mailing list to be notified of every article I release. I regularly interview authors and those in the publishing industry, along with providing an insight into my own experiences of publishing my debut novel, In The End, an apocalyptic thriller that will leave you breathless.