Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Promoting Book Signings by Davalynn Spencer

Marketing is a daunting task for authors, so it helps to collect as many tips as we can find. Today, author Davalynn Spencer offers helpful advice about press releases and book signings. -- Sandy

Davalynn: When I worked as a reporter and religion page editor for a small daily newspaper, I saw press releases every day. I received a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul before it went on sale, and I knew about JK Rowling before most people heard of Harry Potter—all because someone wrote a press release and sent one to the newspaper where I worked.

I’ve stayed in touch with my reporter friends, and when I have a new book coming out, I shoot them an email to see if they’re interested in an interview. But I never assume anything and always phrase the request in a way that offers an easy out for them to say no.

Whether I’m promoting online or in print, I always write a press release for my books, tailoring it to the specific area if possible, especially if I’m sending “blind” without knowing the editor.

For example, last year’s book, The Rancher’s Second Chance, was set in the California foothills where I once lived. The release I sent to newspapers in the area focused on the locale and my former residency there. Releases I sent to papers in my current location mentioned “local author.”

Here are a few pointers for the news media:
  • Never assume anything – especially with friends. You can be more casual in your approach with friends, but show them the usual courtesy and give them a way out to graciously say no.
  • ALWAYS address the editor/reporter by name. If you don’t know them, find out.
  • Include “hooks” that will make an editor/reporter want to interview you either over the phone, in person, or via email.
  • If you are having a book signing nearby, include accurate information about when and where, and any giveaways or drawings you plan to conduct.

Book signings can be intimidating, but they are a great way to meet readers. Set one up at your local library, book store, or gift shop.

I am always more comfortable if I don’t sit down (unless I’m actually signing a book). I enjoy browsing during the in-between moments. This also gives me an opportunity to interact with people who may not be there to buy my book, though I keep a watchful eye on my book table.

While browsing, I pass out bookmarks—an incredibly inexpensive way to advertise. I get 250 for about $50 from and I often use them like business cards. My website is printed on the bottom so readers have access to a buy link for the ebook or online suppliers. That way, bookstore owners are not offended by me pushing the book from an online dealer. After all, we need book stores.

Here are a few suggestions:
  • Stay on your feet unless actually signing your name. Keep an eye on your table when you’re away from it, but move around.
  • Offer bookmarks to people not at your table, with a casual remark like, “May I give you a bookmark?”
  • Place a bookmark inside the books you sign.
  • If you have more than one book, display copies/bookmarks of previous titles at the corner of your table.
  • Send the person who allowed your book signing a hand-written thank-you note. These little gems are becoming quite rare and the effort will make that person feel appreciated.

Do you have anything to add that will be of help to others? Have you sent press releases to newspapers and received interviews from them? Tell us your experience with press releases and/or book signings.



Davalynn Spencer’s love of writing has taken her from the city crime beat and national rodeo circuit to the college classroom and inspirational publication. When she’s not writing western romance or teaching as an adjunct professor, she enjoys speaking and leading worship at women’s retreats. She and her husband Mike have three children and four grandchildren and make their home on Colorado’s Front Range with a Queensland heeler named Blue. Connect with her online at and on Twitter @davalynnspencer.


  1. Great tips, Davalynn. I sent out a press release for my first book, and our local newspaper reporter responded by asking if I'd be willing to pay for a feature. That was in the height of the economic downturn, and newspapers were taking a beating. Is that customary?

    1. Dora, good job on the press release. However, I've never heard of a paper asking someone to pay for a feature; that would qualify as paid advertising. But don't give up. Most papers don't charge.

    2. I agree with Davalyn, Dora. I worked in newspaper as a reporter for several years & we never charged for a feature. In fact, we were grateful for ideas & suggestions. Most of the time. :-)

      Just understand that you don't have a lot of control over how the story turns out. You can ask to read it before it goes to print but it's unlikely you'll get to. This might be because the writer has a short deadline or they don't want you making all kinds of changes.

      When I was a reporter I often let the subject of an article read through it for accuracy, if they wanted to. However, I usually made it clear they couldn't rewrite it or change the content or style. "It is what it is but let me know if I misspelled a name or got your age wrong," etc.

  2. This is a keeper, Davalynn! Adding this to my "Future Book Signings" folder. Thanks so much!

  3. Really good info, Davalyn. Most of my stuff is e-books LOL. And my local paper is very unfriendly to romance authors. Most press releases go unacknowledged. Give us our sports stars, though!! We do have a book column on Sundays and she is pretty good about listing stuff if you send it in, but there are always a bunch of others, too, No worries, be happy. Stuff works out. Your cowboy titles are tantalizing me...more TBR! God bless you with continued success!

    1. Thanks for reading, Tanya. I send releases not only to my hometown paper, but to others in the region - both weeklies and dailies. Sometimes a weekly paper is looking for copy and things to promote. And sometimes the press release is condensed to a paragraph on the up-coming events page!

  4. Besides the press releases, I send invitations to any people I know in that area. A personal invitation from the author works well.

    1. I like that idea, RJ. I can see how appealing that would be to someone--how it would make them feel special.

  5. You're absolutely right, RJ. That extra personal touch can make a big difference.

  6. Thanks so much, Davalynn. Great points and ones to store for the future.

    1. Thanks for having me, Sandra. It's been fun visiting with your readers.

  7. Great tips, Davalyn! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Thanks for the tips, Davelyn. I'm going to try for a press release on a signing coming up. Great idea! Also, I'll start walking around passing out book marks on my other novels. Enjoyed your suggestions for helping make for a great signing.


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