Friday, December 4, 2009

Mega Book Signings - How to Pull It Off

Since mid-October, I had been posting on Facebook and Yahoo groups about a book signing event in Maryland that would bring several Christian writers together. I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt, that joint book signings are more profitable, more fun, and a better way to meet readers, than a solo signing.

How it came together: 
On a sunny afternoon, in mid-September, three writers met for lunch for the first time. Over cups of steaming green tea and plates of fried rice, Leah Morgan expressed her love for Christian authors and her desire to bring them and readers together in the central/western Maryland area. Wanda Dyson and I were enthused about the idea. 

Thus was born the idea of a joint book signing event at Leah's church. In one week, the event evolved from a few authors to ten. When the event day came, we had a total of seventeen authors attending. This came about by contacting authors we personally knew in the area. Most were from Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Leah's favorite author, Lisa Samson, lives in Kentucky. But that didn't stop her from letting Lisa know what she was working on and asking if she would be interested in attending. Lisa brought her bright smile, her pleasant laughter, and her talent to the Hagerstown Hometown Holiday Book Festival and sold lots of copies.

Back to the beginning. Leah approached her pastor about use of the church hall. No problem. The church was behind us one-hundred percent, and anything we needed they would try to provide. The hall was large. The church had large tables that could seat two authors each. The kitchen was right there. Clean restrooms. Lots of parking.

Leah then approached the local Christian bookstore about the event. The church had an account with them, and they could easily provide the books. However, the manager was not interested in the least. This was baffling and disappointing. If any bookstore should be supporting Christian authors it should have been this one. They were also unwilling to put flyers out or a poster up. It was unfortunate. We would have made a lot of money for that store in just 3 hours. 

Having run into a brick wall with ********** Christian Bookstore in Hagerstown, Maryland, Leah decided to approach Borders. The manager was enthused and said he knew this was something big and that Borders would want to be a part of it.  So, after going through some red tape with corporate, Borders supplied the books for the event. They ordered 25 copies per title, and had Leah pick them up and load them into her van.

Leah walked into her local Starbucks and told them about the event. Starbucks donated the coffee. The ladies in the church baked their little hearts out, and the bakery table, as you see in this photo was incredible. The proceeds went to two of the church's ministries. And a gentleman in her church printed up the flyers and posters for free.

We had gift basket drawings. A table set up with free items sent in from CBA authors from across the country, such as bookmarks, postcards, flyers, pens, and magnets. All the authors' books were set up in the middle of the room in genres. The authors' were seated two to a table all along the perimeter. The tables were covered in white tablecloths, and a Christmas tree decorated in gold added to the holiday atmosphere.

Leah contacted the local Christian radio stations, and was asked to do a live interview. Here is the link. You will learn a lot from her if you are interested in pulling an event like this off. Scroll down the page to 'Special Events' - '11/30/09 Leah Morgan.

On the day of the event, authors arrived early to set their tables up and to meet each other. We were provided with a delicious lunch, of chicken noodle soup made by Leah, hot bread and homemade apple butter.

We sold over $3000 worth of books in three hours. Authors gained new fans and new friends. It was such as success that we will have it again next year.

If you want to put an event like this together here are some tips.
1. Meet with a few authors you know that would be interested in putting an event like this together.
2. Let your author friends in the area know you are thinking of holding a book signing and if they'd be interested to let you know.  Make a list. 
3. Secure a location. A church is a perfect place to hold an event of this size. 
4. Meet with the manager of the local bookstore. Tell him/her what the event is. How many authors are attending. What kind of advertising will be done. See if they will set up an account with the church if they do not have one.
5. Acquire a credit/debit card machine from your bank. You will be charge a fee for this. But it will help, in case the bookstore cannot provide a register.
6. Make a trailer video showcasing each author and their books.
7. Make a flyer.
6. Put up a website and a blog about the event.

Solo signings are fine. But joint mega-book signings are a lot more fun for both authors and readers.

Event trivia. One of my high school classmates showed up, and she won my gift basket. We hadn't seen each other in 35 years.


Debra E Marvin said...

I am so thrilled for you Rita. I wanted to come to this in the worst way and knew it was just a WANT not a need and so I couldn't justify financially. I almost hopped on the interstate anyway!

What a blessing to know how it was all pulled together and such a success. I'm waiting to hear about a spring date.

Deborah said...

This sounds like so much fun!

Jessica said...

Wow. That sounds amazing and fun!!! Thank you so much for sharing about it. What an experience. I can't wait until someday when I get to be a part of something like that. And I love how you guys brought in food, etc, for nonprofits. So wonderful.
I hope you all get to do that again! :-)

Joyce said...

I had such a great time, Rita! Thank you! It was the best booksigning ever! I think they ALL should be done like this. It was also great fun meeting you!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rita -

Wow! You and the other authors did a wonderful job.

I'd love to see this type of event in my area. We have some great authors.

Susan :)