Do Book Signings Really Work? By Bryan Heathman

Bryan Heathman will be NCWA’s speaker at our October 1st meeting. See end of post for links.


Authors often ask “Is it worth it to do a bookstore tour?”  This is a valid question!

Organizing a tour of bookstores is time-consuming and can be expensive, so this question comes up often with authors.  Nobody wants to be “that author” sitting behind a table in a bookstore with no line, no fans and not a single book sold.  Yet it happens more often than you think.

So what can you do to make a book signing rock?

The formula I’m about to share was formulated by the President of Andante Publishing, Bill Chandler, which he used to sell over 10,000 copies of his book “The Ultimate Inventors Handbook”.  This was not a vampire novel, nor a book about casting spells.  It is a book for inventors.

Bill’s background as a Marketing Professor helps, as he understands the psychological dynamics of buying behavior.  But one day, Bill was “that author”…sitting behind his book table for one hour without a single person talking to him.  How embarrassing and what an incredible waste of time!

Soooo, Bill set-out to create a formula for making books signings a success.  And did he ever!  Here is how Bill made book signings work, and how you can too by following this simple 10-step formula.

1.   Call a local bookstore and schedule your signing.  Be prepared to talk-up your book.  This is easier than you think and the bookstores will welcome your call.

2.   After scheduling your date, send your author bio, photo, cover artwork, ISBN number and a description of your book to the store contact.

3.   Contact the local radio stations and newspapers in the area of the bookstore and send them a Press Release with the details of your book signings.  You’ll be staggered at how they respond.

4.   Create a list of questions for media interviewers (radio, TV), along with a topic of interest to talk about.  The more current or controversial is always a good bet with the media.

5.   Check-in with the bookstore to ensure they have produced flyers promoting your signing.

6.   Call, email and make social media posts so all your friends know about your event.  Try to ensure at least 20 friends/family/co-workers can show up.  There is power in a crowd, and a crowd draws a crowd!  When you bring a crowd, the bookstore will love you!

7.   Get to the store 1 hour before your signing and hand-out postcards talking about your book.  Personally invite shoppers to join you at your time and tell them where to go.

8.   Personally get on the In-Store Announcement system to call people to your table.

9.   Deliver your well-rehearsed 20-30 minute speech about your book, tell some stories and do a reading from your book.

10.  Don’t be shy about giving people the opportunity to take home a signed copy of your book at the end of your speech.  Taking home a signed book is highly valuable to the general public.  Remember this, as this is the most important part of this formula:  Ask for the order.

But wait, you’re not done yet!  The key to this formula is to schedule five to ten store signings within a 2-3 week period, with the emphasis on Steps #3 & #4 above.  The repetition of your message is the magic, and you’ll find that the 2nd or 3rd time people here about you and your book, they get more responsive and more willing to buy.  Repetitive messages lead to trust and trust leads to purchase behavior.

Once you have saturated the bookstores in one market, move to the next market.  By performing these 10-steps for several months, you too can cross the threshold of selling 10,000 books and be on your way to becoming a Best Selling author!

Good Selling!


Join us on October 1st to hear Bryan speak at the NCWA meeting. Click here for more details.

Bryan Heathman is a sales and marketing expert, author of Conversion Marketing and President of AudioInk Publishing.  Bryan helps authors overcome the hurdle of “book obscurity” with a clever blend of publishing and marketing techniques.  His Fortune 500 experience includes working for Microsoft, 24/7 Real Media, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.  Bryan is a featured speaker at the National Speakers Association and Direct Marketing Association.  Bryan holds a BS Degree in Economics with minors in Marketing and Music.  Visit AudioLink to learn more.


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