Being self-published and trying to sell your creation can be a daunting task – especially if you have no one to counsel you. I’ve written several books and have close to a hundred book signings yielding me close to $100,000.00 in sales. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that it required weeks and weeks of not being home, sleeping in two-bit motels, and setting up and tearing down my book signing station a hundred times – maybe more. However, if you want to make your writing a success – you do what you have to do. To that end I would like to pass on a few ‘tricks’ I learned which helped me sell many books while conserving on costs.
I began book signing not knowing a thing. I approached Barnes and Noble, and after sending them my book and promo material, they agreed they would allow me to sign books. The final decision would be the manager’s. I approached a local B&N and, after some hesitancy, agreed I could hold a signing on a Saturday. And I was off!
A successful book signing depends on PROMOTION by you. When I go to a store, I bring all sorts of carefully assembled stuff which will make my presence a happening.
1. Life size stand-up of me holding my book (placed outside entrance)
2. At least two 2x3 foot pictures of the book. These are placed on easels inside store leading people to my signing table
3. I bring my own 5 foot foldup table (a number of B&N and others try to make me sit at a card table (ugh). My table contains lots and lots of books carefully stacked with some stand-up stands. In addition I begged from a store to get their discarded cardboard displays which they throw away. These I repainted, put my web site on it, and put my own books in it. The entire appearance of the signing table is very professional.
4. Every half hour I go to the PA system and make a pre-written announcement to the customers that ‘the store is thrilled to host William Creed, author or the book . Don’t miss this chance to get a personally autographed book of his outstanding story’ Don’t be modest. Your book is OUTSTANDING, THRILLING, CRITICS PRAISE and whatever you can think of to hype the book and yourself (make sure events and awards you claim are true)
5. Print out handouts – this is the most important, effective thing you can do. I give one to customers as they come in the store. I don’t care if they stop – few do. But they DO read the handout as they pass you by. The handouts have a pic of myself, the book(s), favorable critic reviews, and a short SHORT synopsis of the story that leaves some mystery in the readers mind. It’s amazing how this handout works.
6. Many stores expect that you will be there one day – and for the first months of signing that is what I did. Everyday – 7 days a week – I was at a different store. Then I got smart, and I started my book signing on the Thursday (set-up day) and signed book through Saturday. It cut down dramatically on the gas I had to buy – and each day brought a new group of people. Sometimes I stayed for Sunday afternoon.
7. Customer E-Mail addresses. Get ‘em! You need to contact these people when you write your second book – and you WILL write a second book. Don’t throw away all the information you gathered the first time around. Now, people will NOT give you their email addresses. I understand that – they don’t know me. They don’t want a bunch of junk mail. I get it. So I have to come up with a reason for them to give me the address. I came up with a photo. “Say, would like to take a picture with me, then I’ll send it to you and it fits right on the inside cover – be kinda neat!” I received hundreds and hundreds of email addresses. Course that’s kinda hard now because everybody has their own phone-camera. But if I have my camera on the table and I hold it up while I’m talking, it sorta short circuits their thoughts and they say “OK” Then I grab a customer and have them take a pic and get the customer’s email.
These are the basic things I do and the results has been that a typical book signing will yield about $1,000.00 to $1,500.00 for a two day stay, and about 500.00 for additional two days tacked on the event. I also visit stores during the week; however signings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday rarely exceed $200.00. I gave up signings on Mondays – waste of energy. If I’m on the road I golf of Mondays. There are other things I do in preparation of a book signing: I contact local papers and announce that William Creed will be coming to their town. I contact radio stations to see if they have a local talk show. Some stores have me collect the sales money, so I’ve set up a VISA merchant account so that I can take credit cards. If you don’t have charge capability you will be missing a lot of revenue.
I’ve been to most B&N east of the Rockies, also most Hastings Book, Books-A-Million, military exchanges and many private book stores. If you want to make a living doing this, book signings are essential. The result of all my efforts is I now have written five books – each one meaning another book signing tour. A publisher in Texas purchased my book and signed me to a contract in which they will reprint all of the books in the series. I’ve been contacted by Army units who what me to come overseas, and offered to pay expenses, another outfit asked if I would donate books they would take overseas and give to soldiers – which I did. I was contacted by a script writer in California who had read my book. I signed a contract and he wrote a screenplay which won a couple of awards and is now being considered for production by two movie companies.
I say this because all of my results are because I was willing to pack my car and travel to these book stores. The books I sold were like seeds I was planting and the fruits of that have been amazing.
While a student at Romeo High, Bill started his literary career by approaching a local newspaper about writing a weekly column for teens.The editor liked the idea and he soon began writing a column entitled, “Viewing The Teens”.In one of his columns, Bill proposed the idea of forming a Teen United Nations as a way to encourage teenagers to put aside national politics and reach out to those in other countries. Bill’s journey into national politics brought him national media coverage, as well as many letters, including a letter from the Soviet Embassy in New York expressing interest in the idea. After graduation from high school, Bill enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was initially stationed at Tyndall AFB, Florida.In 1961, he was assigned to the Air Force Security Service and stationed in Darmstadt, Germany.Here he wrote a guide to living in Germany for the serviceman and his family titled, “G.I. In Germany.” The manuscript received endorsements from the Comander of European Forces, the Chancellor of Germany, and Mayors of Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich among others.
Creed’s life changed dramatically when, at the age of 39, he contracted encephalitis from a mosquito bite he received in Florida. As a result of this bite, he lost the ability to count to ten, write, read or understand much of the English language. Though he was told that he would remain like this, Bill a long-time Christian, sought healing through his faith. Bill received a promise from God that he would be healed – and he was. Over the years, through prayer, and with the support of family and friends, he now has regained what he lost.
In 1998, Bill decided to return to the activity he enjoyed most, writing. Subsequently, he wrote COMES THE END which received rave reviews from critics and readers alike. He followed with his second book, THE GATHERING, which also has received an outstanding reception. Creed’s third book, THE PROMISE, was released in April 2009; and his fourth book, The New Dawn, was released in 2013 to the delight of his many fans.
Creed has done hundreds of book signings all over the US for B&N, Hastings Books, Books-A-Million and many independent stores. In addition, he was invited to visit Air Force and Army Bases throughout the country and has visited many of the major military installations.
His first book, Comes The End, has been made into an award winning movies script by a writer on the West coast and is currently being considered by two motion picture companies.
Bill lives in Romeo, Michigan with his wife, Sharon.Together they have five children and two spoiled dogs. His wife is a nurse case manager at a local hospital and has been her husband’s chief supporter and fan. In addition to many book signings, his book has been taken overseas by the army for distribution to servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan. Visit Bill at his website www.williamcreed.com.