This post was written in response to The Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts every first Wednesday of every month.
My First Book Signing Event: Lessons Learnt for #IWSG
Last month I wrote about the insecurity I felt regarding my first book signing event, and this month, I’d like to tell you about the lessons I’ve learnt and offer some advice and encouragement for other insecure writers.
My To Do List was laid out in last month’s post, and I followed it to the letter.
It took place in a local book shop in the centre of the town where I live (Córdoba, Spain), on Tuesday 27th of October at 8.30 in the evening. I chose this date because I wanted it to take place as near as possible to Halloween, as the novel is set on and around All Hallows. It is not a horror story, but there are enough gothic elements to warrant this date as significant for the context of the novel.
It may seem late in the rest of the world, but in the south of Spain 8.30pm is still early. We left the book shop at 11.00pm! I’m sure the eight bottles of wine we consumed must have kept everyone engaged! There were about sixty people, although there was only a small group of eight wine-and-book-lovers at the end!
The book shop has a baby grand piano and one of my ex-students, who is a pianist played romantic music on the piano throughout the event, before and after my talk.
I gave a short talk, under an hour, about Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea, and how they had inspired me to write my novel. I read a short extract, too, and I answered questions. Fortunately, some of the participants had already read the novel in kindle format, and they also took part in the discussion.
After that, I signed the copies of those who had bought the book, gave little merchandising presents you can see in the photo, while the piano played and wine was served. It was a wonderful moment. All the stress was over, and I could relax, listen to the music, and chat with my readers.
Most of those who came were Spanish. Almost all of them are able to read the book in English, although some of them were eager to have a Spanish translation. In fact, I had already toyed with the idea of translating it, but now I’m taking it very seriously. I’ve promised my Spanish friends that it will be published in Spanish next year, so I’m gradually doing so, with the help of a retired professor. It’s going to be a slow process, but it’s something I feel I have to do, as I live in Spain, and also there is a very large Spanish-speaking population who would be able to read my novel.
There was information in the local press, in a newspaper called El Cordoba. They were very interested. In fact they’ve also interviewed me and the interview will be published this week, so I’m very excited about that.
It was also advertised on Facebook by the book shop and on my author and personal page. I think it was very useful in getting the message to people I don’t normally see, although they live nearby.
Lots of people took photos, so there are plenty of them, as you have seen.
What I’ve learnt from this experience
I always knew I loved my readers, but meeting them and talking to them is unbelievably motivating. I’ve been in a whirlwind since it happened. I’m translating book one, preparing the paperback edition of book two, and writing book three. I’ve been interviewed for the local press, and I’m going to approach English press in Malaga (a nearby town, where there are many English and northern European residents). I’m also planning to do more book signings in other bookshops in other towns, and cities in Spain, and hopefully in the UK.
I really recommend giving a talk and answering questions.Working with book clubs seems a great option (I can’t do that because there are n English book clubs where I live).
It’s vital to cause a buzz before by advertising in as many virtual and real places you can think of.
I also think it’s a good idea to have promotional presents such as book marks, fridge magnets, etc. I feel I’m selling a product which goes beyond the reading experience, not only a novel. I love the idea of my novel on people’s fridge’s!
The most important part is meeting readers, getting your book into bookshops, and the promotional aspect.
I sold over 30 books, which I’m thrilled about, although I earned nothing! CreateSpace, transport, the bookshop, merchandising, and the wine, took it all and more! I suppose the next events will be smaller, but it’s all about getting the word out there…
I don’t think it matters if no money is earned, although this may not be the case for everyone. It’s more of a long-term investment and promotion. (I’m fortunate enough to have a day job, which takes care of my bills).
One thing I’ve learnt is that Independent authors need to think long-term. I’m sowing little seeds here and there which I don’t expect to reap at once. I published All Hallows at Eyre Hall in 2014, Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall in 2015, and I’m currently writing Midsummer at Eyre Hall. I’d say I need 4-5 years to make even a small name for myself. I’m in no hurry, so I’ll just keep on writing and promoting because I love it. I’m not feeling insecure this month for a change 🙂
Writing is like life, it’s a journey, not a destination.
Enjoy your journey!
Have a look at what some of the others are writing about!