Alternatives to Doing a Book Signing in a Bookstore

The key to many author’s success is to get out there and actually put their books into the hands of the people. For most, this means doing book signings, and that means getting themselves into the bookstores. While this is a good idea, an author that only sticks to doing signings in a store, will miss valuable opportunities to sell books.

There are many other locations where an author can sign a book and not always at a table at the front – or rear – among shelves and shelves of other author’s books. Many author’s don’t think of going to places like these to sell their books, so there usually won’t be too much competition for attention.

Classroom Visits –
Any author of a children’s book through young adult should consider coming up with an activity to teach a class, and to do school visits. These are a goldmine for selling books (Disclaimer: Check with schools before agreeing to appear, some will not allow you to sell anything to their students). You can send out flyers, letting schools know that you can do appearances, and what you could provide for the students, or you can sign up through a group (I signed up through SCBWI – The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) to do school visits, and they will help you in the process of setting everything up.

Craft Fairs –
On first glance, people might wonder why an author would set up a table at a craft fair. When you think about it though, isn’t a craft nothing more than something someone made with their hands? And didn’t you create your book (the words anyway) using your hands? And don’t they sell those Sham-Wow and Oxy-Clean products at craft fairs? Think of a craft fair as just another venue for a book signing. You will probably be the only author there, and you are offering a quality product to the people. Yes, a table will cost you a small fee, but it is worth it if it gets your book out to some potential fans. Many will be surprised to see an author there, but they will still come to your table to check you out, and the more people checking you out, means the more sales you’re likely to have.

Your Local Library –
Another place little thought of when it comes to book signings. However, what a more perfect place than a library? It’s like a bookstore, except people borrow books instead of buying them (except your book of course). Check out the libraries in your community. Ask if they would be willing to allow you to set up a table some Saturday afternoon and sell copies of your book. Everyone that comes in and out will see you, and you might be able to sell some copies. If the librarian is a little reluctant, offer to donate some books to the library (including a copy of the book you’ll be using for your signing). This is going to give you exposure to a good deal of people, and will lead to at least a few book sales under your belt.

Teach a Class –
Admittedly, this is not for everyone. And, it isn’t technically a book signing. But it is an opportunity to get your book into the hands of the public. I am not suggesting going down to your local college and teaching a writing class. Instead, what I suggest is inquiring at any local community centers about doing an evening or weekend workshop in which you will teach the craft of writing. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy thing either, it can be every Wednesday evening for a month, or it can simply be a single Sunday afternoon. Either way, bring copies of your book, and plug it to your “class”, maybe even offer a discount to anyone who takes the class. Don’t think it’s shameless. It is simply another platform for your book and if you teach a quality lesson or technique during your workshop, it will pretty much guarantee some sales.

Niche Markets –
There are other opportunities for authors to do some book signings and get their books into other’s hands. However, there are more niche markets suitably tailored for specific types of writing. For instance: if you have a book on medieval history (fact or fiction), consider doing a signing at your local Renaissance Festival, or if you’ve got a graphic novel, check out one of the many comic conventions circulating around the country. Every type of book should have a niche that it can fit into, and unique places suitable to sell that particular book. It is simply up to the author to find them.