Avoid these flubs when seeking book signing

Certainly one of the promotional efforts you’ll want to undertake with your self-published book is a public book reading/signing. Such a reading/signing can help your book get press coverage in local media and help fulfill your personal dream of living the author’s life.

Setting up a book reading/signing requires a little salesmanship and diplomacy. A previous entry covered how to arrange a public book reading/signing, but apparently a couple of authors missed it. While recently corresponding with the owner of a bookstore where I’ve held five different events, she mentioned a couple of authors who really gave her a headache when making their requests.

The first one was less the fault of the author than one of those nondescript marketing companies hired by a writer. The email from the marketing firm to the bookstore owner read:


We are currently considering a Children’s Book Tour with the author and/or illustrator in your area in August, September or October. If you are interested in hosting a free event at your location, please click here to provide us with some basic information for us to evaluate your possible participation.

Thanks and have a great day!

There’s plenty wrong with this generic email. First, it doesn’t address the book store owner by name and so indicates that the author/marketing company knows nothing about the store. Secondly (and perhaps most importantly), it doesn’t list who the author and illustrator are. Imagine a salesman calling you but not telling you what he’s selling! Third, it takes the attitude that the author/illustrator are more important than the bookstore when stating click here to provide us with some basic information for us to evaluate your possible participation. The author should seek to enter a mutually beneficial relationship with the bookstore, one that says, “I can bring people to your bookstore, and you can provide me a venue to sell my books.” But such is the problem with hiring a marketing firm that is more interested in telling authors that they contacted thousands of potential venues rather than one that actually lands them.

The second author got all of the above right but threw a fit that the bookstore would not follow through with what were excessive demands. First, he wanted the bookstore to order and pay for event quantity books. For mom and pop bookstores (about the only ones self-published authors can get into), ordering books through Ingram carries an 8% charge and paying for shipping to send them back. He also wanted a projector and screen. Most small bookstores don’t have that kind of equipment. Simply put, authors need to bring their own books and equipment (a chair and table being the exception) with them unless they’re on a national bestseller list.

The result of these efforts? The bookstore owner passed on the first author and isn’t interested in having the second one back when his next book comes out. Two authors have lost the opportunity to sell their books in an affluent market with a number of book-buying readers.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.