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Leveraging Author Signings for Indie Bookstores

Independent bookstores are thriving community centers and are grounded by the support of local residents. Indies have the advantage of selling books by local self-published authors. This enables them to promote locally giving indie bookstores a unique communal trait. Having an author’s signing at an indie bookstore can draw traffic, help acquire new audiences, and possibly increase your revenue. But, knowing how to successfully do this while employing the best tactics can make a world of difference. Here’s what you need to know:

Create a successful author signing
Whether it’s a book signing or author reading at your store, this is bookseller “gold.” As an indie bookstore associate, it is your job to be aware of the upcoming titles so you can reach out to the author before they are unavailable. However, since major authors usually have a publicist, it’s a good idea to check when they will be on their book tour. For local authors, direct contact is key. They will certainly appreciate the opportunity and will help you with publicity too. But remember:

  • Promote, promote, promote!

Once you have the green light, get publicity materials from the publicist or author to help spread the word. This is the time to heavily promote in your store and online. You can make flyers in the form of bookmarks that inform visitors of the date, time, and who the author will be. On the day of the event, make sure you utilize social media leading up to the author signing to remind customers of your bookstore event.

  • Have multiple copies of their books in the store

Place an order to ensure you have enough books on hand for the author to sign, and most importantly for you to sell. You can leave your mark on the event as well, by having adhesive bookplates for the author to sign with your logo. It's important for indie bookstores to stay relevant and front-facing, so any opportunity to promote the name of the store and brand is key.

  • Make it personal

Make the author and the crowd feel comfortable. Arrange your seating so the author can mingle with the crowd, and consider refreshments. At times it may be beneficial to provide interactive games. Keystone Books & Gifts in Circleville, Ohio allows customers to participate in pottery painting and other games in order to build customer engagement leading up to author events or throughout the week. Whether it’s a contest or trivia game tied to the appearance, it makes for a great ice breaker while increasing customer experience.

Marketing tactics 
So, you have set up the author signing. Now what? People need to know that you are hosting an author event and great marketing tactics can make the difference. Here are a few tips:

  • Website

Use the power of the web and provide event details like indie bookstore Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN. Not only does their website provide event information in a calendar form, but they write a biography about the author attending: family, additional books, writing journeys etc. To further sale promotion, you can even add a link to purchase the book on the author biography landing page.

  • Social Media

Utilize your social media platforms to make a big splash, but don’t forget to tag the author and the publisher. Social media is an easy way to communicate with your customers and build anticipation for the event. Increase engagement by having a drawing for a lunch with the author, private meet and greet, or contest rewarding the most social shares.

  • Radio

If you have the budget, use a local radio channel. Major authors who draw big crowds should have radio promos to inform the community. If you have a good relationship with the station, getting the author in to say a few words either the day of or the day before the event is even better.

One Good Idea Deserves Another
What’s your idea for events and activities to enhance your independent bookstore experience? No matter your goals, Ingram’s vast resources for retailers can help make it happen. Find out how to capture every opportunity that comes your way here!