How to arrange a public book reading/signing

Just because you’ve published a book, don’t expect to get invitations to do book readings. You’ll have to arrange them yourself. The good news is you’ll find a lot of venues will be willing to have your speak.

The first step in arranging a public appearance is to find those venues. Start close to home, making a list of potential places to speak. Among them are libraries, books stores and coffee shops, particularly non-corporate operations where the latter two is concerned. Scour local newspapers (especially metro Sunday sections or Thursday entertainment sections that promote weekend events) to see what venues host book readings. If writing nonfiction, also think of businesses that sell products related to your book’s topic – for example, if your book is about camping, a sporting goods store is a great potential venue. As compiling your list, get contact information for them, especially the manager’s name, phone number and email.

The next step is to actually pitch yourself to these venues. Begin by emailing a media kit with a pdf of your book to them with a cover letter introducing yourself and asking if they would be interested in hosting a book reading/signing for your writing. After a day or two, phone the manager with your proposal. Explain your proposal and have your book’s ISBN on hand to show that they can order the book from their store for customers. Describe why this signing would beneficial for the business, such as explaining how your book will:
• Resonate with the store’s target customers
• Bring additional customers as you will promote the event in local media giving free advertising to the business
• Increase the likelihood that those visiting for your reading/signing are likely to shop at the store both before and after the event

In addition, include a list of articles and positive reviews about the book, showing the book is of high interest.

As part of the pitch, give potential dates and time that you could do this presentation (make sure this matches the location’s hours of business). Give plenty of lead time so you can promote your book in the local media. The best time for an event is the evening, about 7-8:30 pm on weekdays and Saturday, or during the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday. Avoid readings on any night that there are big football games or sports playoffs, holidays (including Jewish holidays), and other local events that might reduce your attendance. A scheduling side note: Don’t double up times, trying to book yourself at two places in one time slot or schedule yourself in one day at locations that are too far apart to reach; typically, one event a day is plenty, and will be exhausting enough for you.

During your phone call, offer to meet with the manager to further discuss the book and make arrangements. When done with the call or after any personal meeting, follow up with an email to the manager thanking them for their time.

While most venues will be interested, do expect rejection. Don’t fret about it; some stores and libraries have policies against holding such events, and some managers simply have no experience organizing such events. In the case of the latter, call back in six months and see if there is renewed interest; usually there will be a new manager at the store, and that person may be more knowledgeable about the business and willing to do the signing.

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