The Perfect Venue

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Is there a "perfect" venue for holding a book launch or autograph signing? I don't think so. But you can find a unique place if you think outside the box.

Gone are the days when a bookstore is where you go to sign books. Today, authors need to be creative, right from the start, when getting the word out. I'm not talking to the 1/2 of 1% of author folks who are published with huge advances and publicists at their disposal. I'm talking about the rest of us, the 99% who have to be creative to keep our books bringing in the sales numbers.

So think outside the box.

The location that comes to mind first and foremost is a bookstore or a library. For your particular book those choices might just be the best, but maybe not.

McDowell Public Library 
I had my previous book signing in a library. Their meeting room is downstairs in the back of the children's room. It should have been a perfect spot because of the children's section, but on the day of my signing only a couple of families came to the library. If it hadn't been for a group of friends and neighbors, it would have been a total disaster.

My best book signings have been in a donut shop in Michigan, Marge's Donut Den. Yes, you heard me right. A donut shop. I've been privileged to have held three there. The first one was for my children's book, Arlie the Alligator. That day I sold $1500 in books & CD's in about three hours time.

The next book signing held at Marge's Donut Den, was for two biographies. I didn't sell $1500 but sales did come close.

In September I held my third book launch/book signing at Marge's. We Bought a WWII Bomber. Approximately sixty people attended the presentation but well over a hundred came and went throughout the launch. They all bought at least one book, with some buying more than one.

The proprietor of Marge's Donut Den in Wyoming, Michigan is a book lover as well as an exceptional donut baker. She has two large events rooms where she holds poetry readings, book discussions, writing and art classes as well as other events. It's safe to say there are few donut shops around like hers.

Marge's Donut Den Events Room - Wyoming, MI
Last week, I held a North Carolina book launch for We Bought a WWII Bomber, at a local arts association that has a storefront presence right on Main Street in the town near where I live. From the street it appears to be a store that sells local crafts from talented artists, but inside is a large space for small receptions and a theater that seats about one hundred people.

MACA - McDowell Arts Council Association
I was quite taken aback when I arrived and saw about a dozen hand-crafted, beautifully made quilts hanging from the ceiling in the very room I thought I had contracted to use. At that point there was nothing I could do but setup as best I could on the tables that I had requested in advance. As it turned out, the quilts provided an interesting backdrop for the event. Folks off the street could come in, vote for a quilt, look at the crafts and buy a book. It turned out to be okay even though numbers in attendance could have been much, much better. It was noted that everyone who attended bought a book and several bought more than one, so the percentages associated with sales vs attendance were high.

We tend to measure the success of a book launch or autograph signing by the numbers in attendance and numbers of books sold. Of course we want to be able to autograph many, but success doesn't always come that way. The poorest attended just might be the most successful because you never know if that one person who comes and loves what you've got to say has the connections or means to get the word out or offer you an opportunity to speak at a much larger venue. That one person might have the connections to make your book and your career soar.

So think outside the box. What is your book about? Is there a location in it you might capitalize on? A famous place? A farm or park? One writer friend wrote about an historic school that had been renovated, so her book signing was in that school. Think about organizations that may tie into something that happens in the book. Offer to give a percentage of sales as a donation.

Also, consider the location and the type of room. Is it off the beaten path or in an area that might draw walk-in or walk-by traffic? Will the room accommodate a crowd comfortably?

Think also about doing a presentation. People are curious about writers. They love to hear about the process more than having your read a section out of your book--where your ideas come from and how you put the story together. Did you have to do research? How long did it take you? That kind of stuff. Presentations excite readers to purchase.

There are many places to hold a book launch so think outside the box and find a unique venue to show your book off to its finest.

What is the most unique place you've hosted a book launch or been to a book launch? I'd love to know.

Share your unique place in the COMMENT box and I'll put your name into a hat for a copy of We Bought a WWII Bomber: The Untold Story of a Michigan High School, a B-17 bomber & The Blue Ridge Parkway.


Gretchen Griffith said...

Those are interesting places for book launches, Sandra. A donut den sounds a bit strange, but if it works, why not? I've had book launches in a renovated school auditorium, a picnic shelter and a Ruritan clubhouse. Each one fit the book, so why not go with that.

Sandra Warren said...

Fantastic locations. Great thinking outside the box!

Thanks for sharing!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Sandra,
Thanks for sharing your successful book launches in such fascinating places!

I love the donut shop! How neat that the owner sponsors so many gatherings for writers and artists!

Love you!

Kristina Stanley said...

Thanks for sharing this. Book launches are nerve wracking events, so this helps.

Linda A. said...

This is an interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

Once I attended a "Read In" as part of a PTA meeting in an elementary school. An author read while parents and kids snuggled in sleeping bags on the cafeteria floor. The author brought pre-sale book copies and maybe a few additional ones. I believe the author insisted on a minimum order in order to come.

Sandra Warren said...

Yes Kristina, Book Launches ARE nerve wracking events. And sometimes, no matter how much publicity you do beyond family and friends, people still have other obligations that keep them away. BL's can be exciting and wonderful yet humbling affairs.

Launching at an elementary school as part of a PTA meeting is another interesting idea and place. Thanks for sharing your experience, Linda!

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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