Book Signing Tips

Book Signing Tips: 4 Ways to Sell Signed Copies as a Self-Published Author

I was a Nerdfighter in 2011, so I followed the presale and release of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars religiously. Why? Because he promised that every single preordered copy of TFIOS would be signed. There was even a website dedicated to answering FAQ’s about whether your preordered copy would be signed (it would). 

As an author, you might look forward to selling signed copies of your own work. But for a self-published author, selling signed copies isn’t as easy as you might think.

In this article, we’ll talk about the most important book signing tips: whether authors should sell signed copies, how to go about selling signed copies, and how to arrange a book signing event at your local bookstore. 

Should authors sell signed copies?

If you’re a traditionally published author, selling signed copies is pretty straightforward. Usually, the way it works is this: the publisher sends you boxes of pages to sign. You’ll sign them, send them back, and they’ll print and distribute them accordingly. It might be a ton of work for your wrists, but it’s not a lot of brain-power. 

If you’re a self-published author, the process can be a lot more complicated. But does that mean it’s not worth it? Of course not. Selling signed books is totally worth it.

There’s something about a signed copy that gets readers really pumped. They feel personal, and owning one can feel like a badge of honor. While signed copies of John Green’s book weren’t exactly difficult to come by, it’s often not so easy to acquire a signed copy of other books, so they feel really special when you get them. Even though signed copies of TFIOS aren’t rare, I still get excited when I see them in the wild because they remind me of that community.  

How signed copies can help you 

Signed copies do still have their value. Here are a few ways selling signed copies can benefit you as a self-published author: 

  1. Using signed copies as exclusives 

You may notice that artists will used signed copies of their work in the early stages of their release. Taylor Swift, for example, might offer an exclusive vinyl edition of her latest album for a limited time. These often sell insanely well, with Swifties hurrying to snag a copy before the latest limited-edition cardigan or vinyl edition has sold out. 

If customers get the sense that they can only get something within a certain time frame before that opportunity is lost forever, they’re much more likely to jump to buy it. Signed copies of your book can be a great exclusive item! Maybe they’re only available for the first three weeks of your book’s release, or maybe they’re only available to readers who preorder your book. 

Speaking of pre-orders… 

  1. Using signed copies during the preorder period 

The run-up to your book launch is hugely important. You may have heard that preorders are helpful for traditional publishers because they tell that publisher how many copies they can expect to print—a huge number of preorders might justify sending the book back to print, for example. 

For self-published authors, preorders are still hugely important. All of your preorders contribute to the sales on your release day, and the amount of sales you get in the early days of your book’s launch will have a big impact on its success. Preorders boost your book in Amazon’s algorithm, too. 

Offering signed copies to readers who preorder your book is a great way to secure more preorders, and thus ensure the success of your book launch. 

  1. Using signed copies to connect with your audience  

Signed copies have a ton of value as novelty items. Not every book is signed, and not every signature is identical, which means that each signed copy of a book is technically unique. Plus, if your reader gets their book signed at a reading, it means this signature also reminds them of the time they got to meet you, which is hugely personal. 

Signed copies offer authors a chance to connect on a personal level with their audience, even if they’re not necessarily able to meet their readers in person. 

  1. Using signed copies to increase revenue 

You may just want to list signed copies for sale alongside regular copies (we’ll talk more about this later) instead of making them exclusive. You’ll notice that many authors who do this offer signed copies at a higher price. 

There might be a few reasons for this. First (and again, we’ll get into this later), a self-published author may need to front the cost of shipping for that signed copy, and the additional charge might cover that. But you might also charge more for a signed copy because it’s a novelty item—the personalization costs a little more. You might even charge extra for a personalized note. 

Why you might not want to sell signed copies 

Now that we’ve talked about some ways that signed copies can help you out, let’s talk about some ways in which signed copies might not work for you. 

You only publish e-books 

If you exclusively publish e-books, it might be impractical for you to offer signed copies. You obviously can’t sign an e-book, you might have chosen e-book sales because you didn’t want to mess with physical book distribution in the first place. 

This might be the case if you publish e-books on KDP, but it can also apply to authors who publish their work online in other ways. My short stories, for example, are available for purchase as PDF’s. I can edit the PDF to include a note before I send it to a reader, but this isn’t quite as personal as a physical signature. Anyone could technically convert a PDF to a Word Doc and do the same thing. Offering signed copies just isn’t practical. 

You don’t want to manage the logistics/cost of shipping physical books 

Even if you do publish physical books, it might be tricky to handle signed copies. You usually have to order a set of books to sign, and the way you distribute those will vary depending on how you’re publishing. 

The printing service you choose may help you with distribution, but often, you’ll need to sign and ship these books yourself. This can be time-intensive and inconvenient. Adding the charge of shipping fees to the price of the signed copy is a great way to avoid additional costs for you as the author.

 

Book Signing Tips

How to sell signed copies as a self-published author

So, if you’re self-published, how do you sell signed copies? 

Set up a store on your website 

Some self-published authors will list signed copies on their website—Hannah Lee Kidder, for example, offers signed copies of both her short story collections on her website’s shop

Selling signed copies on Amazon can be challenging, so listing these books on your site can be an easy way to work around that complicated process. 

Contact bookstores that will sell your signed books online 

You can contact brick and mortar stores to ask if they’ll stock your book, and you can also ask them to stock signed copies—make sure you check with your local bookstore to see if this is an option. They might even be able to sell copies online and help you with the distribution. 

Selling signed copies through Amazon 

You can also sell signed copies through Amazon. You’ll need to create a merchant account and fill out some paperwork, and you’ll need to agree to distribute the book yourself, but it can be done. Selling through Amazon also means you’ll need to be quick about sending out copies as soon as they’re ordered. 

Do a book signing event 

Self-published authors can also offer signed copies of books at book signing events. This is a little easier to do logistically since customers will pick up those signed copies at the store. 

How to get a book signing at a store as a self-published author

But wait, you may be thinking—book signing events are only for big-name authors. There’s no way I could ever do one. 

Think again! Self-published authors can absolutely do book signing events, and if they have the chance, they should—they’re great opportunities for building a community and strengthening your bond with your readers. 

Here’s how to get a book signing: 

Build a platform and local following 

First things first, you’ll want to build a platform. Think of it like a concert: if you don’t have anyone listening to your music, you’re probably not going to sell tickets to your concert. The same idea applies here. You want to have readers in town who are ready and willing to go to your events. 

Reach out to bookstores several months in advance 

Next, you’ll need to reach out to your local bookstore. Contact them several months in advance so that they have plenty of time to factor you into their event calendar—you might want to try a smaller bookstore, especially an independent one, if possible. 

  • Related: If you’re writing a children’s book, then a school visit may be better than a bookstore event.

Pitch your event to the bookstore 

When you contact the bookstore, pitch your event. What do you want this event to look like? Most authors do a reading followed by a Q+A, and then there’s a signing afterward. You want to let the bookstore know what kind of book you’re reading, what kind of artist you are, and what kind of event you want to put on—this helps them know whether it would be a good fit for their store.

(Insider Tip: A media kit can be really helpful to get them to take your offer seriously.) 

You should have a synopsis of your book, a brief description of yourself, and a brief description of the event prepared when you reach out to bookstores. 

Make sure to showcase your platform and following to the bookstore 

Remember the following you built? You want to make sure you let the bookstore know about it. This doesn’t mean you should start saying “don’t you have any idea who I am” or being, in general, a jerk. When you’re telling them about yourself and your book, also let them know about your platform

This lets the bookstore know that people are going to show up to your event. They’re a business, too, and they’re going to want some sales revenue. If you’ve got a ton of people ready and willing to come to your event, this will make it much more likely that they’ll agree to a signing. 

Next Step

Now that you know the benefits and workings of a book signing, it’s time to build out the rest of your book marketing plan.

Check out this ebook to help you get moving in the right direction.

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I Wrote a Book Now What

I Wrote A Book! Now What?

Writing a book is a tremendous first step toward publication. It shows you have the perseverance necessary to carry a dream from the first stage to the final product. Writing a book shows you have something to say and believe in it enough to devote hours, weeks, and even months to share it. 

But now that you’ve written a book, what’s next? The next right step for you depends on the way you choose to put your book out into the world. In this article we discuss two separate options:

In this article, we separate them out so you can clearly see both paths and choose which one is best for you. Whether this is the first book you have written and you want to self-publish, or you’ve written several books and decided to traditionally publish, this article covers the steps you need to take.

If you’re not sure which route is best for you, spend time reading through both options. You may want to create a pros-and-cons list and compare them before making a final decision.

Let’s dive in!

The Process For Traditional Publishing

The process for traditional publishing can be broken down into multiple steps. Many of today’s publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. This means you will need to sign with an agent before you have access to the bigger publishers.

Pitching Agents 

A great way to get exposure to agents is by attending writing conferences (whether they are virtual or in person). You may also want to browse the internet for reputable literary agencies and query several agents. Twitter is also a great way to connect with agents. Twitter pitching festivals help you get noticed and many writers have begun conversations with agents in this way.

Whichever agency you choose to pitch, make sure you follow their guidelines exactly and that they represent the genre you write. Make sure that your query does not have any typos. Remember, your query letter is your first impression with an agent, and you want to make a great one.

Book Proposals 

After you sign with an agent, you will need to write up a book proposal. If you write fiction your proposal will include your:

If you write nonfiction, your proposal will include a chapter-by-chapter synopsis instead of an extended synopsis, along with the above points. 

To Edit, Or Not To Edit?

Make sure your writing sample is free of errors, represents your writing style, and is written by you, the writer. While it may be tempting to hire a professional editor to edit your writing sample, the publisher is offering a contract based on your writing, not an editor’s. Additionally, when traditionally publishing, the publisher takes all the financial risk. Upon a signed contract, they will hire a professional editor for you to edit your manuscript. 

Remember, in traditional publication, you do not choose the publisher, the publisher chooses you. This means you will likely want to shop your manuscript to many publishers to speed up the process and give yourself as many chances as possible to land a contract.

Working With A Publisher 

After you sign your writing contract, you will begin the process of publishing with a traditional publisher. The publisher will assign a professional editor to work with you and make your writing the best it can be. They will also begin work on marketing, cover design, and anything else the particular publisher does with their authors. Typically, once you make up your advance in book sales, you will begin receiving royalties. 

Don’t forget that while the publisher takes all the financial risk and plays a big part in marketing your book, you are the author and play a major role in the success of your book. The more involved you can be, while understanding you’re working with professionals who do this for a living, the more likely it is your book will succeed.

The Process For Self-Publishing

While the process for traditional publishing has quite a lot of work on the front end, the process for self-publishing has quite a bit of work on the back end. Before starting the traditional publication process, a writer must write a book, query agents, sign with an agent, the agent must pitch to publishers, and then if offered a contract, the process begins.

For self-publishing, a writer can skip querying agents, signing with an agent, and pitching to publishers. Note that while it is not essential to write a book proposal for self-publishing (since you do not need to pitch to a publisher), the process of writing a proposal can help you understand your project at a much deeper level. It may be worth considering.

Reaching Out To Editors 

After you draft your project, you will likely want to hire a professional editor. Do your research, know what you are comfortable investing, and connect with other writers who have worked with editors previously. Reach out to several editors, get to know their personality, the genres they enjoy editing, and read some of the books they have edited. Working with an editor is a very collaborative process, so it’s crucial to work with an editor you connect with. Take their suggestions seriously and always be open to their feedback.

Creating Your Marketing Plan

After you finish editing your book, or even during the process if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s time to create a marketing plan. Because you are self-publishing, you have 100% say over what you market, when you market, how you market, and who you market to. If you feel more comfortable sitting behind the screen and writing books and not as comfortable navigating social media or interviews, you may want to hire a marketing professional to help you launch your book. Scour the internet and do your research just as you did with your editor to make sure you hire the right professional. Research their previous work, especially sales and analytics, to ensure you hire someone who can help you succeed. 

Cover Design

Designing a cover that captivates readers and portrays your story is essential. While we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the fact is, we do. You wrote a book because you are creative. You probably even thought about cover design at some point. However, chances are you are an excellent writer but are not as equipped in graphic design. Even if you do have a background in graphic design, it helps to have a fresh pair of eyes.

Choose your top favorite book covers and note the illustrator. Reach out to your author friends and ask them if they have worked with designers before. Browse the internet and do your research. Your cover design is the first impression readers have of your book. Take the time necessary to find the right graphic designer and create the best book cover for your story. It’s crucial it stands out.

Putting Together A Launch Team 

A launch team, or street team, is a group of people dedicated to helping you promote your book before launch day. Often, launch teams are created in a private Facebook page and members are added via an application process. 

While it may feel a bit overwhelming wondering where to find potential launch team members, reaching out to online writing groups is a great place to start. Create an application process and tweet it out (don’t forget to include the hashtag #WritingCommunity). Post it to your writer’s Facebook page. Create a reel and post it on Instagram. You’ll likely be surprised how quickly you can form a launch team. 

Press Kit

A press kit / author media kit can be extremely helpful when scheduling interviews as you near release day. A press kit is simply information about you and your book that will be helpful for those who want to know more. Think of it as a calling card—a way to show you are a professional writer who should be interviewed. 

Ideally, create your press kit as soon as possible so it’s ready when it comes time to book interviews. Create a list of TV stations, podcasts, influencers, etc., who share your audience and would consider interviewing you. 

Presales 

Presales are crucial whether you choose to self-publish or traditionally publish. Your launch team can help by spreading the word about your book and encouraging potential readers to pre-order. Interviews raise awareness about your book, and the stronger your marketing plan is, the higher your presales are likely to be. 

Remember, presales aren’t just about selling books but help you land on bestseller lists. Hitting these milestones will not only help with the marketing for this book but set you up for success as you release future books. 

Thanking Your Village 

As the old proverb goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Your book is your baby, and it does in fact take a team of committed individuals to help your book see success. After you’ve written your book, take the time necessary to show your team appreciation for their help. While your team did not write the book itself, the reason they helped you is because they are passionate about stories as well. Show your appreciation and genuine thanks. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to release a book.

Moving Forward

Congratulations! You wrote a book and now you know the next steps to take. Whatever avenue you choose, self-publishing or traditional publishing, go for it with the passion you had writing your book. Passion spreads. Word of mouth is still one of the best marketing tools to this day. Never underestimate the power of passionately pursuing your book’s publication. 

Writers usually write because they simply love writing. But if you are a writer you are also a storyteller. Storytellers share their stories because they love the power of story. Sharing stories takes forethought, dedication, and grit. 

Many dreamers dream of writing a book. Many writers begin writing a book. It takes a special person to take the dream to draft, then to edited manuscript, to publishable material, and finally, to launch day. But you made it. When release day comes, celebrate the success of making it!

Then, pour yourself into your marketing. Whether you’re self-publishing or publishing traditionally, you have to keep marketing your book if you want continued sales.

Remember, your first publication will likely be your most difficult because you have never done it before. Be encouraged that the next time you publish a book, you’ll understand the process just a little better. Enjoy it!

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Crowdfunding for Authors: A Simple Guide for 2022

Do you have a fantastic book idea just waiting to be written, but you’re lacking the funds for publishing, marketing, and distributing? While you want to pursue your passion project – bills need to be paid, and groceries need to be bought. And the idea of being a starving artist isn’t that appealing. If your finances are holding you back, there are alternatives to consider before giving up on your project. 

You’ve probably heard of crowdfunding before, but perhaps you’re unsure of what it means and whether or not it’s the right path for you. It can be an excellent way for self-publishing authors to get their book out into the world. In this article, we’re going to guide you through how crowdfunding works, how to have a successful campaign, and which platforms to use. 

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This guide on crowdfunding for authors covers:

  1. What is crowdfunding for authors?
  2. Who is crowdfunding for?
  3. How long does crowdfunding take?
  4. How to give yourself the best chance of crowdfunding success
  5. Common pitfalls of crowdfunding
  6. Best crowdfunding sites for authors

What is crowdfunding for authors?

Crowdfunding is a method of raising money for a project through family, friends, and other individuals willing to invest in your work. As an author, you’ll sometimes need financial help to complete your book project since many expenses are involved. And that’s where a crowdfunding campaign comes in.  

Financial support

Crowdfunding means that you’re running a campaign to find people who are willing to pay for your book ahead of time. After choosing a platform for your crowdfunding project, you set a target amount of money you want to raise and a price for the package you’re offering. Essentially, it means that your readers are pre-paying for your book, giving you the financial support to finish your project. 

As long as you reach your target amount, you’ll receive that money to cover necessary costs, such as: 

For a successful campaign, you usually need to offer something more than just your book to the people funding your project. For example, many authors choose to provide a signed copy, a signed poster, tickets to a launch party, or something else that would be valuable for your customers. The goal for your crowdfunding should be that the money you’re receiving can cover the platform costs as well as other costs. That way, you won’t need to take money out of your pocket. 

Validating your book idea

More than just raising money, a crowdfunding campaign can be a perfect way to gauge how readers will receive your book once it hits the shelves. Say you can get a big group of people prepaying; then chances are you’ve got a book that people want to read. They believe in your idea enough to pay for it ahead of time.  

Marketing your book

From day one, you’ll need to share and promote your project through social media, email newsletters, and other marketing tactics. And although marketing may not be the primary purpose of crowdfunding, it’s still a great way to hit two birds with one stone. 

Who is crowdfunding for? 

You may wonder if crowdfunding works regardless of what type of book you’re writing. The answer is that, to varying degrees, it works with any genre. Looking at past campaigns, it seems like business, fantasy, and sci-fi are some of the more popular genres on crowdfunding platforms. 

That’s not to say you can’t be successful with a completely different type of book. A campaign’s success has more to do with the creator than in what specific genre they write. Crowdfunding is for anyone passionate about their project and willing to put in the hard yards when it comes to promotion and marketing

How long does crowdfunding take?

The typical timeframe for a crowdfunding campaign is around two to three months. You’ll need to allow for one to two months of planning and setup (once your book is written) and one month of running your campaign. 

In general, you can expect around 100-200 hours of work from initial planning to the finished campaign. Remember that the more time you spend on planning and executing, the more likely you will reach your goal and have a successful campaign. 

How to give yourself the best chance of crowdfunding success

The downside of crowdfunding (with some platforms, not all of them) is that you don’t get any of the money if you fail to reach your target goal. You will then have to put your book publishing plans aside and inform your investors that the project is canceled. 

So, with that in mind, you’ll want to set yourself up for success when you start your crowdfunding campaign. Here are a few pointers that will help you do well: 

Start early and plan ahead

Having a solid plan and giving yourself enough time is crucial for a successful campaign. Think about where you can reach your target audience, what your timeframe for the campaign should be, and how you can sell your idea most compellingly. 

Figure out how much money you need

It can be tricky to work out how much you need to raise. Ask for too much, and you may not reach your target. But if your amount is too low, it might not cover the necessary costs. You need to consider both of these aspects when you’re setting a target for your campaign. 

Work out all the costs (cover design, marketing, printing, distributing, etc.) and decide on a realistic amount. Also, look at similar campaigns to see what their funding target is and what they’re offering in return to make sure you’re correlating. 

Start growing your audience

If you’ve never published a book before (and you don’t have a large audience), you need to spend some time building a follower base to promote to. That can mean growing your social media followers, getting more readers to your blog or getting more podcast listeners. Because what happens if nobody is familiar with you or your book before your launch? Chances are it’ll be challenging to get enough traction for a successful campaign. 

Grab your audience’s attention

The first 24 hours of a campaign are often the most crucial, so you’ll need to grab the attention of your potential readers early. You can do that by following these steps: 

  • Setting up a quality website to refer people to.
  • Setting up social media accounts. 
  • Creating a video to convey your pitch.
  • Writing a clear and compelling synopsis. 

Write your passion story

The story behind why you’re doing this is the foundation of your crowdfunding campaign. So it pays to spend time perfecting it. By creating a compelling story, you’ll hook your audience and make them want to support you. When crafting your story, keep these tips in mind: 

  • Be authentic and relatable. People want to feel like they’re reading a story from a friend, someone they can relate to and understand. Put all your personality into it and write from your heart, as cheesy as it sounds. 
  • Be honest. Make sure people know what you’re using their money for. If someone’s planning on investing in your project, they’ll want to see where the money is going. 
  • Edit your story. A crucial step is to give your text a few rounds of edits to make sure it’s flawless. If possible, let someone else read it as well. 

Focus on building a community 

Crowdfunding is about more than raising money. Think about how you can use this campaign to build a community. Anyone helping to fund your project is a potential reader, and you’ll want to nurture those relationships. That includes giving updates on your progress, sharing exciting news, and giving them special recognition. By keeping them invested in your project, they’re also more likely to share it with others. 

Stay on top of your campaign

Once your campaign launches, make sure you stay on top of it. You’ll need to keep your social media active, respond to questions and comments and keep a close eye on how things progress. Your audience wants to see you engaged and invested in the project. Besides, if you go MIA on your launch day, you might miss out on some great opportunities. 

two people use a laptop for crowdfunding for authors

Common pitfalls of crowdfunding your book

When you plan to build a crowdfunding campaign, it’s good to be aware of some common issues and setbacks. That way, you can learn how to avoid them or decide whether a campaign is worth the risk of failure. 

  • On most platforms, failing to reach your funding goals means you receive nothing, even if you’re only a few dollars short of your goal. 
  • There’s a high failure rate for authors, mostly due to a lack of planning and promotion. According to a market report, between 69 and 89 percent of projects fail to reach their funding target. 
  • Crowdfunding is time-consuming and more complicated than many realize before starting. 
  • For authors who don’t have an existing base of followers, getting traction can be very difficult.
  • Crowdfunding platforms aren’t free. Most of them will take 30% of the revenue generated from your book sales. Although the fees come out of the money you’ve raised, some authors miss factoring this into their calculations. Only breaking even can be disappointing when you’ve so much time and effort into your project. 

Best crowdfunding sites for authors

If you’ve gone through the pros and cons of crowdfunding and decided to give it a shot, it’s time to find the platform of your choice. Make sure to do your research before you commit to anyone. You’ll want to check for fees, what type of crowdfunding they do, and their rules and regulations. 

Some can take weeks before your account is approved, which can cause problems if your project is time-sensitive. Other platforms may require you to back a campaign before you can launch one for yourself. So whichever one you choose, research them well before you start your campaign. 

Here are seven of the best crowdfunding sites for authors:

  1. Patreon 
  2. Kickstarter
  3. Indiegogo
  4. Inkshares
  5. Publishizer 
  6. GoFundMe
  7. Unbound

Ready to get started? Grab your copy of “Published” that you can read anywhere and start your book today!

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