Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Value of Booksignings for the Published and Unpublished by Sandra Ardoin


The word can strike fear into the hearts of those of us who would rather blend into the wallpaper than hawk our wares to strangers. So is it worth it to sit at a table for a couple of hours while people walk past, trying not to see you? (Come on, you know you’ve been one of those people, too.)

Unless you’re J. K. Rowling or the lastest New York Times bestseller, if you ask most writers, they’ll tell you that booksignings result in few sales. I know that from a pure “get rid of the copies you brought” standpoint, it’s tough to make enough money to feel spending the time and gasoline are worthwhile. Yet we all do it because we believe it’s expected of us.

Rather than take the attitude that you’ll slog to the nearest bookstore to sit in a corner and watch the world pass by, why not consider the time and money as a chance for some cheap advertising?

A couple of weeks ago the singles in my church had their annual yard sale to raise funds for various missions they support during the year. This time they added a whole room for vendors, so I shared a space with two author friends from church, and we set up our displays. While I sold zero copies of the children’s collection in which I have a short story, I achieved my main purpose and had fun while doing so.

With my novella releasing in October, my goal for the hours I spent was to hand out bookmarks I’d created for the occasion, introduce people to my upcoming release (especially those in my church who don’t know I write), and gain addresses for my email list. I accomplished all of those.

I’m not an old pro at booksignings, but  each time I do one, I learn something new or discover something I’d like to do next time. For instance, I should have handed out bookmarks to the other vendors, something I’d planned to do, but never seemed to get around to doing before it was over. Maybe I could have done better in my email signups if I’d had a little basket of goodies to give away in a drawing. Instead, I gave out a copy of a recipe to those who signed up. Even so, I was satisfied.

Think about the following when it comes to booksignings: 
(L-R: Phyllis Keels, Susan King, Sandra Ardoin)
  • When possible, do a booksigning with others. You’ll get more traffic and interest. 
  • Try to share a table with those who write in a different fiction genre than you do, or those who write non-fiction. Variety attracts more people.
  • If you’re not published and you have the opportunity, participate anyway. Add to your email list and tell others what you write. Hand out your business card and let them know how they can follow your publishing progress on your blog and on the social media sites.

Honestly, it’s hard to feel like you’re some monkey on display at the zoo, but look for those opportunities to tell others you are a writer. Swing from that booksigning tree! Well, maybe not, but have fun. :)

What nuggets of wisdom will you share with us about your booksigning experiences so we can make ours better? What have you learned that helps you with these events? Do you have a fun/inspiring/odd story about a booksigning you participated in?


Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author. A fan of old westerns growing up, it’s only natural that she sets stories in the days of the horse and buggy. She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina. Her Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel, releases in October 2014. The print copy is on Amazon for pre-order.

Visit her at and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest.


  1. Hi Sandra, I can't wait for The Yuletide Angel! Two of my favorite words so I know ill love the book, too. I actually hate book signings and always do them in a herd LOL. a lot of my recent stuff are ebooks anyway. So that takes a load off. best wishes on the release!

  2. Thanks so much, Tanya!

    A herd, huh? Kind of like eating that nasty vegetable? Eat it all at once and get it over with? :)

  3. One of the best strategies I ever saw was by Gina Holmes. Instead of sitting behind the table, she stood by the door with bookmarks in hand. When people entered, she'd welcome them, saying she was a local author (or visiting author) and may she give them a bookmark? That was all she said to them. She smiled and let them go their way. Shortly, most would be back at her table after reading the bookmark. It was nonthreatening and more comfortable for her, too.

    1. I've heard that advice about not sitting behind the table, but standing and greeting people. Thanks for sharing that, Ane.

      Readers love bookmarks, and I think they're a great and, as you said, non-threatening form of advertisement. I don't throw a bookmark away unless it's totally ragged.

  4. That's great that you accomplished what you set out to do, Sandy. Congratulations on surviving and thriving, my friend!

  5. Great advice, Sandy. My book is ebook only, but I never considered just handing out bookmarks. Might lead to a few downloads.

    1. If you have the opportunity to join some other writers, definitely give it a shot, Terri. It's a great opportunity to inform others of your book. I tried not to push my information on people--probably failed occasionally :)--but if they stopped or even paused in front of me, I handed them a bookmark. I saw people stuff them in the bags and purses. You never know!

  6. Sandy, it was great sharing a table with you and Susan! I learn something each time I am at one of these events, and this time I think I learned the most helpful things. Your recipe give-away was a wonderful idea and tie to your book. I thought you did a great job at talking with people about Yuletide Angel!

    1. Thanks for letting me butt in, Phyllis! I enjoyed being with you all!

  7. One thing I learned from a recent book signing was to NOT let the bookstore set your table near the back of the store!!!

    Even worse, it was one of the first warm, sunny days of springtime, so NOBODY was indoors shopping for books!

    Thanks again for giving me the privilege of reading an advance copy of your novella, Sandy! It was wonderful!!!!

    1. Oh, thank you so much, Myra! I really appreciate you!

      LOL! Yes, I don't think it's good to be at the back of the store! Good point!


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