No More Autograph Parties


One of the joys of being a published author is being appreciated for your work. Getting a favorable response to your book from a crowd of people is an event most authors look forward to. But many authors and author-speakers misunderstand the purpose of a book signing and they attend unprepared.

Book signings are a form of product promotion not available to producers of other goods or services. But autographings are not a party in your honor—you and your book are not even known, yet. Bookstores, both chain and independent, stage events to attract potential customers into their stores. The stores supply the venue; the author supplies the audience.

Never do an autographing; always offer a mini seminar. Attract buyers to your autograph parties.—Terri Lonier, author, Working Solo.

An “autograph party” says, “Come and appreciate me (and buy a book);” a “seminar” says, “Come on down and I will give you something free (information) that will improve your life.” Always think of the benefit to the potential customer. How can you lure them out of the house and down to the store?  Your appearance is a promotional opportunity for you and it will require hard work.

Patricia Bragg (Health-Science) publishes health and fitness books. To promote her mini seminar at a local bookshop in Santa Barbara, she posted handbills in all the local health food stores and gyms. Then she made an email to her customer list within a 50-mile (driving) radius.

The store was packed and she was on for more than four hours—until closing time. The store sold out on many of her titles and gave out rain checks.

Authors are celebrities; they are the draw. People think if you wrote a book, you know something. And you probably do. Nonfiction books are written from the best research you can do, you direct your material toward a certain type of reader, and you further explain your advice with your own experiences.

Book writing is a journey. Often we do not know where the process will take us. We learn everything there is to know about our subject and, in effect, we are gaining an advanced degree in our area of interest; we do the research and then we do the paper. So, authors are pretty special, often interesting, and do know quite a bit about their subject area.

When my parents taught me not to write in books, they did not know they were raising an author who would autograph them.

They turned my last book tour into a guilt trip.

The store might publicize your appearance with a sign in the window for a few days and may place a notice in their event schedule. Attracting the rest of the crowd is up to you.

Don’t be stingy. During your presentation, generously mention other books in your category. Go over to the shelf where your book is displayed and find books that you like. During your mini seminar hold up the books and describe what you like about them. “This is one of my favorite books—and the perfect companion to my book.” “This is the book that inspired me and got me started in this field.” And so on. Why let the attendees go home with one book when they can carry three or four? The store will notice your (improved) sales and that will make it easier to get booked at other stores.

These mini seminars may lead to longer ones for other groups at other locations—for money. Go for the exposure and go prepared. Both your speaking career and your book deserve it.

Mini seminars are easy and fun for a professional speaker.

But it takes a book to get booked in bookstores.

Dan Poynter

Dan Poynter

CEO & President at Para Publishing
Dan Poynter, Author (132 Books), Publisher (Since 1969), Speaker (CSP). He is past-chair of NSA's Writer-Publisher PEG and the founder of the PEG newsletter.
Dan Poynter
Dan Poynter
Dan Poynter

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