Saturday, October 30, 2010

Doing Booksignings when your book is Digital

There's no doubt about it, ebooks are quickly becoming the new favorite for much of the reading public. Sales for digital media continue to climb, becoming an ever larger segment of the market. This is good news for ebook authors, creating much potential to build our sales and name recognition. During this exciting time, we writers are challenged to find new and better ways to promote our work. Digital format makes that effort both easier and more difficult, depending on the venue.

Promoting digital media online is natural and most of us embrace it, using loops, chat groups, and social networks to get our books in front of a ravenous buying public. But one area that continues to stump us is how to do book signings when the book isn't in paper and ink. This is probably the most often asked question by newly published ebook authors. It can either be viewed as a challenge, or as an opportunity to be creative. Guess which way I'm gonna go! #:0)

Preparing for an ebook signing is fun. First of all, if you want to put something in the buyer's hand you have a couple of choices. You can either create a CD to sell at the signing, or provide some type of printed media for shoppers to take home and think about, thereby taking the heat off of them to purchase the book on the spot. Or, better yet, do both!

To create an effective CD presentation, put the PDF version of your book on the CD. Use the book's cover to create an attractive label for it and sign the front of the CD with a permanent marker. Place the CD in a nice jewel case to give it that professional polish that will make it harder for the public to resist. As a special bonus to the reader, include a trailer of the book on the CD, the first chapter of a couple of other books, or a free read. And tell them the extras are on there when you offer it to them. Anything extra you give the reader increases your chances of pulling them in and enticing them to buy more of your books.

Something to keep in mind, selling CDs of your book in a bookstore can be complicated. The store will want the ISBN on the case and maybe even a bar code sticker. It might be easier for you just to provide a free chapter of the book on the CD and send them to the website to buy the entire book.

An alternative to a CD is printed media of some type. My recommendation would be a first chapter booklet. You can create first chapter booklets very easily, either by yourself or working with your local printer. Make them as attractive as possible, include the cover on the outside, and autograph the books. Make sure to include your website and the buy URL on the booklet. Even if the shopper thinks she is taking the booklet just to be kind, she's very likely to give it a quick read and you have a chance to draw her in.

Other alternatives are postcards and/or cover flats if you have access to them, but I like the chapter booklet because it gives readers enough of a taste to get them hooked, improving the chances that they'll buy the book.

Always include signed bookmarks and/or business cards for readers to take home. If you can, provide candy and/or some little trinket (pens, magnets, etc.) for them to take with them. And, if possible, offer some kind of visual. If you have a book trailer, bring your laptop with you and play the trailer in a loop during the signing. Or, if you have a good voice and a dramatic flair, provide audio of you reading a chapter in your book.

Be creative. For example, if your book involves cooking, provide a recipe card with a great recipe on one side and your book's title, blurb, and buy URL on the other side. Yoga? Include a favorite yoga position on the card, with an explanation for what it does to improve health or, if your book is erotic, how it increases sexual prowess. Your book is about a murderer who loves crossword puzzles? Create a crossword puzzle online, using things that appear in your book as the clues, and offer that to them, with your book info on the back of course! You get the idea. Just be creative.

Don't forget to include your website on everything, so potential buyers can go check you out when deciding to buy.

One last thing you should think about is a contest. Put together a small, sparkly gift basket and set it on the table next to you. Provide slips of paper for them to fill out with their email addies so you can notify them if they win, and require them to take a chapter booklet for the chance to win the basket. Include a box they can check on the slips of paper, to be included in your newsletter mailings... What? You don't have a newletter? We'll cover that later!

The key, if you haven't figured it out yet #:0) is to give potential readers a reason to stop by and see you, and offer them something they might enjoy, rather than just hawking your wares to them. Most of this is basic stuff, which you would do even once your book is in print, but the gist of what I'm telling you is that booksignings with ebooks can be a lot of fun and very effective. You just need to step outside the box and get creative. With the plethora of ebook readers available right now and a growing hunger for digital media, the books will sell themselves. All you need to do is give them the venue to do it!


Monti said...

Lots of good ideas, Sam!

Thanks for creating this very helpful blog post.


Sam Cheever said...

Hey Monti!

Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you liked the post. Hopefully it will get the creative juices flowing anyway. Have a great one!