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FAQs about Book Signings

Since I self-published my first book, "101 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills Instantly," in 1998 and began doing book signings shortly afterward, many people have asked:

1. What do you get paid to do a book signing?

It depends on where the book signing occurs. Most bookstores do not pay authors to do a book signing. Linda Ligon, Interweave Press, says that her authors are paid an honorarium by craft stores. The "pay" is most often an opportunity to interact with readers, increase the sales of your book, and enhance your status as an expert.

2. How much money do you make on a book signing tour?

It depends-and you may never know precisely. It depends to a large extent on how well your events are publicized because more people attend when excitement is created about the event. It depends on your presentation and interaction with the audiences. You may know how many books were sold during the event, but that is not the end of the story. One bookseller says that more than 60% of the sales are made after the author leaves the store.

3. Why would anyone go to a book signing?

To meet the AUTHOR! In many sections of the country, just being an author makes you a celebrity. You are the authority. Having an autographed copy of your book sets the reader apart. In one city a lady purchased several copies of "101 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills Instantly." With each request, she told me something about the recipient so that I could tailor my comment for that individual.

4. What's in it for authors who do a seminar or talk on their book?

By presenting a mini-seminar or discussion at a book signing, you demonstrate your knowledge on the topic. You can elaborate on the contents and tell stories about things that happened while you were in the writing process. You also have an opportunity to develop a rapport with the readers allowing them to experience you as a "real person." Event sponsors will like you because you have provided a free service for their clientele. They will be most likely to welcome you back with your next book.

5. What if nobody shows up? Even celebrity authors occasionally have a "no show," so don't give up! The most important thing is how you react when nobody shows up. Keep smiling and draw on your positive mental attitude. Often people will be in the aisles between the shelves, not wanting to be the first to step forward. Walk over to the section where your book would be, introduce yourself to people there, and invite them to the presentation. Offer them a free flier or handout. After the event sponsor has read the introduction you provided, wait a few minutes, and then begin your presentation at the appointed time with a welcoming message. If a microphone has been provided, use it. If no one shows up after two or three minutes, bring your talk to a close with an invitation to people milling about to visit the table later. Usually, managers will ask authors to sign some extra copies. Be gracious and uncomplaining. Later, review your actions and see what might be improved upon.

6. How do you find the time to set up a tour?

Conducting a book signing is like presenting a play. There are several roles-the author designs the tour (venues and dates), prepares a mini-seminar, discussion, or speech, and does the signing. The support staff makes the contacts and provides publicity material, orchestrates the travel details, and does the follow-up to be certain that everything is synchronized. A separate person or company may be involved in the publicity effort, depending on the expertise of the support staff.

7. Assuming that you have had "no shows," what's the best book signing event you have ever held?

It is seldom that a "no show" occurs. The best book signing event I have had was at a large Barnes and Noble bookstore in El Paso, TX, where I signed "Take Charge of Your Life." The event was preceded by interviews on three television shows (affiliates of national networks) and a radio interview. The El Paso Times newspaper published an article about the book on the day of the signing. It was on the front page of the "Living" section with a color photo of the book cover. That evening, after the bookstore staff brought all the chairs in the store into the presentation section, people were standing along the sides. Most of the audience stood in line long after the presentation to talk with me and get their books autographed. You, too, can have such events. We can help you.

Jo Condrill has done book signings across the country and she can show you how to. She is an award-winning author, speaker, and consultant with over 25 years of experience in business, government and volunteer organizations. She is coauthor of "From Book Signing to Best Seller: An Insider's Guide to Conducting a Successful Low-Cost Book Signing Tour." This book was named the 2002 Best Writer's Reference Guide by the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. Listen to an interview with Jo at for more information, visit her website

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