This past week, a new author with a newly-released book asked how I approached libraries about holding a book signing. The question took me aback a second, because from my experiences over these last few years, there’s almost no such thing as just a signing anymore. Out of my response to her, I molded this week’s essay.
First, I don’t ask libraries for a book signing. I suggest a presentation for their customers. While books are set up in the back of the room for sale, that’s not the point of the event. Libraries are educational, and writers have to think beyond just autographs. Signings by themselves can appear mildly selfish, so instead, you want to offer your services to libraries. Maybe do them in conjunction with a holiday or larger event.
When I appear at libraries, I’m teaching writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and mysteries, not appearing to talk about s
elling my books. That’s not to say that my books aren’t woven into the presentation. But your chances improve for acceptance if you approach libraries with more opportunity for them than for you.
The author responded that she didn’t want to promote herself, only wanted readers to buy the book. So I replied:
If readers only wanted the book, they wouldn’t want the signatures or the appearances and would just order the thing from Amazon. Readers want more of authors these days. They want to know the details behind the book, behind the author. Promotion is a big deal with so many people writing a book. Consider these appearances as events, more than book selling. Otherwise, you will continue selling five books here and five books there forever.
There have been events where I sold not a single book…however, I found ways to have my appearance paid for. Yes, I’m am paid to appear at most library functions. My library events alone were about $8,000 of my income this year, because I was willing to speak about writing, publishing, editing, and the magic behind mysteries, making the books secondary. It’s a balance, and you learn as you go. Become more than the author of a book. Assure librarians you are there for them. Become a professional author with the book being a tool. That’s how you begin accruing a writing income.