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Building Relationships

by Jordyn Redwood

Okay, I have to admit-one thing that surprised me on the road of an author’s life was bookstore signings are not about me. Really. They’re not.

Whenever you read about marketing (and bookstore signings are just that) it boils down to how well you build relationships.

Last year at the ACFW conference, author handler Suzie Q discussed this very thing. She relayed an incident of when she was a bookstore owner and they were having an author signing of someone very popular. She never mentioned a name but stated that this person was the top 10% of all book sales.

Their store was the last of a five city tour and she theorized that the previous appearances would likely dilute those who would come to her store. Needless to say, the staff prepared by ordering hundreds of copies of the book. On top of being the last store, when the author showed up for the signing, there was also a torrential rainstorm and nobody came.

And the author put on some nice divaish behavior essentially blaming the staff for the poor turnout.

After that, the staff asked Suzie if they ever had to host that author again and after this incident the sales for this author fell to the bottom 10% of all sales.

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Ouch.

I am keeping this story in mind as I prepare for my book signings surrounding the release of my latest novel, Poison. Here are some things I have done at previous signings that helped build relationships with customers and bookstore employees.

1. Be fine with whatever set-up they have prepared and work with it. At my very first book signing, I imagined having a whole table to decorate. When I got there, the table I had could barely hold four stacks of books and the fishbowl I had for candy. Though it didn’t meet my ideal-it worked out just fine.

2. Have a free giveaway. Bookmarks are good for this.

3. Don’t be afraid to recommend other authors and their books. Not everyone is going to want to read your book but you can still help the store with sales. They will love you. Recommend other authors that you think might be a good fit for that customer. At one slow point I was ready to park myself in the Christian fiction section and just help hand sell other authors books.

4. Leave free copies. At the end of my book signing, I left several copies of my book for the manager to give employees he thought would enjoy it. Nothing will move books faster than employees hand selling them.

5. Write a letter about how great the staff treated you to their supervisor-if they truly did a great job. This was by far the best thing I did. I got a note back from the bookstore manager saying I had reached an upper echelon of authors that was welcome back any time which led me to believe that author diva-like behavior is not all that uncommon.

What are some tips you have for book-signings to build relationships?

Jordyn Redwood 2013
Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping contemporary and historical authors write medically accurate fiction. Her debut novel, Proof, garnered a starred review from Library Journal and has been endorsed by the likes of Dr. Richard Mabry, Lynette Eason, and Mike Dellosso to name a few. The second book in the Bloodline Trilogy, Poison, released Feb, 2013. You can connect with Jordyn via her website at www.jordynredwood.net

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3 Responses to Building Relationships

  1. Fabulous tips, Jordyn! Graciousness always gets you furthest in any area of life, especially at times when others expect you to be difficult or upset. Not to mention that, as Christian authors, shouldn’t we want to model Christ-like behavior?

  2. Jordyn, what great thoughts (and Suzie Q is so sweet, how could anyone be mean to her!?). I LOVE the idea of giving store employees books–brilliant! And really, the whole idea of book signings is to meet our readers…whether they be the people who make it to the event, OR the store employees! And being adaptable and non-diva-ish (like you were) seems more high-class to me than acting like a whiny baby when things aren’t set up as per your specifications. Great post!