In Brian Judd's Beyond the Bookstore: How to Sell More Books Profitably to Non-Bookstore Markets, Jud discusses the necessity of authors to look beyond conventional bookstores when booking their book signings. Coffee shops, libraries, grocery stores, sidewalk markets, etc, all provide excellent alternative venues with good foot traffic to assist with book sales.
Most book signings are during normal shopping hours - somewhere between 10-4. However, when choosing an alternate venue, choosing the time for their best foot traffic is paramount. As per Question #5 from a previous article about book signings: When do they have the best foot traffic? Authors should do quite a bit of pre-publicity for their book signings. However, the reality is that most don’t. So to optimize the potential for the book signing, the author needs to be at the store when it is at its busiest.
To illustrate this point, let's use the example of Kunjani Coffea, a very nice coffee shop in Parker, Colorado, who is very willing to work with authors to schedule special events. They have worked with Books To Believe In to schedule several successful (and unsuccessful) author events in the past.
Most authors, when scheduling signings, schedule a time convenient for themselves, with little or no consideration for the venue. Most authors, when asked their preference, offered to show up from 10-1 on a Saturday. However, for this example, 10 am is definitely not the optimal time of day for foot traffic for a coffee shop. People getting coffee at 10 o'clock on a Saturday morning are very likely to be on their way to something and have limited time and patience for a distraction. A coffee shop's prime time tends to be much earlier in the day.
The day of the week needs to be considered too. People going to a coffee shop on Saturday are more likely to be on their way to some weekend fun somewhere and be anxious to leave, instead of on their way to work, and more likely to allow themselves to be engaged in a conversation.
Idiom of Oz author Jake Jacobs is going to put this theory to the test on March 4 and March 5 between 7-9 at Kunjani Coffea, 10009 Jordan Rd. , Parker, CO 80134
Jake's authentic Australian lingo book is fun and engaging and creates conversation everywhere he goes. So, he'll be asking people who are in line waiting for their gourmet Latte's at Kunjani Coffea if they'd like to join him in a 'Cuppa Coffee', calling them 'Mate' and educating all who engage him about the language 'Down Unda'.
The other part of this brilliant scheduling is that he is going to do it two days in a row, giving Jake a chance to double his exposure and also to engage people the second day, who saw him the first day, perhaps didn't engage, but wondered about him.
The moral to this story is, that successful book signings (for books that are just launching or that do not have celebrity authors) need to be booked in a venue that experiences high foot traffic. They need to serve as an additional attraction and need to be scheduled when it is most convenient for the customers and the venue - not the author.
Book signings also need to be pre-promoted to attract people in when they might not be used to coming in. Posters at the venue need to be up a few days in advance and press releases, online articles, blogs and twitter posts need to be announcing it as well.
The author also always needs to have a give-away on their table; a flyer, a bookmark, a novelty, it doesn't matter exactly what. The author needs to be sure that even without a sale, the venue's customer has something to remember him/her by. It is critical to future sales.