Ahh, summer. The season of book fairs, craft shows, book signings, book festivals… plenty of opportunities to get you and your book out in front of readers of all ages. And what’s the most important thing you need to bring to those book signings? (Besides your well-written book?)
You might have guessed the answer from the title of this article. A positive attitude is the most important thing to remember when you’re interacting with the public for large stretches of time.
Smile, even if your feet hurt and you know the person you’re talking with has no intention of actually buying your book. Keep smiling, even if they’re the fourteenth person in a row telling you how they too would write a book, if only they had the free time.
Smile, nod, and keep chatting.
I just had my first book signing of the summer season, braving an hour and a half of brutal summer traffic and a desperate search for a parking lot with an open spot. I spent three hours hanging out in the bookstore of the pirate museum’s gift shop with my YA mermaid series, SON F A MERMAID and the new sequel, BLOOD OF A MERMAID. (Mermaids and pirates seems a natural fit, right?) (Especially since we don’t have a mermaid museum!)
I chatted with tourists from all over the U.S. about their vacations and what they like to read. I met people from upstate New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oregon, Michigan and New Jersey, all on Cape Cod vacations, all looking to relax and have fun. Domenic from Oregon will be reading SON OF A MERMAID for his summer reading book report, and that thrills me to no end! Emma from Westchester checked the books out three times before dragging her parents over to the table.
Some bought my books as souvenirs to take home to neighbors and grandkids. Some merely bought my books for their kids as a better alternative to the plastic pirate swords. Some bought books from me because I engaged with their kids and added to their vacation experience – I helped kids figure out how to focus the pirate telescopes, understand what “pieces of eight” meant, and speculated about what the next Rick Riordan cover will look like in his latest series. And no, I don’t personally know Rick Riordan. (Several kids asked me that. Because all authors know each other, I guess.)
No one had heard of my books before they walked into the store. None of my friends or Facebook followers braved the traffic to come visit. I didn’t see a single familiar face until my own kids showed up at the end of the day to catch a ride home.
As an indie author, I don’t have a huge online buzz or following. I can’t sit behind the table and wait for people to “discover” me. I need to get out there and sell my book one at a time, to individual people.
No one wants to chat with you if you look grumpy. Heck, they have to talk to their own grumpy kids or grumpy parents. Who chooses to add more frowns to life?
Many people I chatted with walked away. Which you have to be okay with and – you guessed it – keep smiling. Because without that smile, you won’t sell any books. Several took postcards of the book covers to order online for their ebook readers. But some came back and bought the books.
So if you’re an indie author headed out to sell books this summer – remember to bring along your best smile. It really helps.
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Katie O’Sullivan writes romance and adventure for young adults and the young at heart. Her latest YA book is BLOOD OF A MERMAID, the second in her Mermaids of Cape Cod series that began last summer with SON OF A MERMAID. Follow her on Facebook to catch her at her next book signing – where she’s sure to have a big smile on her face!