#IWSG Book Signing: Lessons Learnt

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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.

Ana and me

Me with Ana, the owner of the book shop.

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.

Piano and me

                 Antonio playing the piano while I’m signing.

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.

Lucy talking

Luccia talking about her novel.

Lucy and antonio reading

Luccia and Antonio reading part of a conversation between Jane and Mason

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!

Promotional marketing

Book marker, fridge magnet, purse mirror, and Chapter 1 in Spanish

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!

#IWSG Book Signing: My Tentative To Do List

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This post was written in response to The Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts every first Wednesday of every month.

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I have attended book signings, but I’ve never really thought about the organization. I just turned up, enjoyed myself, chatted to the author, bought the book, had the book signed, and left.

Now it’s my turn. My first novel, All Hallows at Eyre Hall, was published on Kindle in May 2014. I finally published it in paperback in July, 2015. One of the advantages of having a print version is that people can hold it in their hands and turn the pages, and authors can do book signing events!

Kumi with my book

Kumi with my book!

Sounds like a great idea, but I’m an independent author, so I have to set it up myself, but I have no idea how to do it, because I’ve never organized such an event!

I’ve been asking other authors and looking it up on other book blogs, but right now I’m a bundle of nerves just thinking about it.

This is my To Do List, and this is how it’s going, so far.

It won’t happen until 27th of October, so any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.

I’ll tell you how it goes next month!

1.Where is it going to happen?

First I chose the venue and booked it. It’s going to take place in a book shop called La República de Las Letras, in the centre of town (Córdoba, Spain), which also has wine and coffee, and tables for people to sit at and chat or just have a drink. The owner was very enthusiastic, although 90% of the books she sells are in Spanish, there’s an unexplored market for books in English.

Book Shop

                Inside the book shop, La Republica de las Letras

2. When is it taking place?

On the Tuesday 27th of October at 8.30 in the evening. I chose the 27th October 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. 8.30 may seem late in the rest of the world, but in Spain, some people are finishing work, others are out for a walk or shopping, and for many the second part of the day begins! It will probably go on until 10.00-10.30. Of course that means there must be a glass of wine offered at the event. Hopefully that will lure even more people!

3. What type of event will it be?

Just signing or a talk/presentation, too? I’ve decided I’d like it to be a ‘Meet the Author’ type of activity. I’ll be giving a short talk before the book signing, and read some excerpts, so readers know what it’s about. I’ll also answer questions. I’ve seen it done like this before, and it works well, as long as it’s not too long. I’m aiming for 20-30 minutes, and then mingling with everyone and a glass of wine.

4. Who to invite?

I live in Spain, so I’m at a disadvantage regarding the availability of potential readers in my area!

The English-speaking community in Cordoba isn’t very large, but the good thing is the majority are English teachers and (hopefully) readers. I will need to write invitations to the Private English Language schools in the city, the English Department at the Faculty, and the Official Language School. I’ll also be inviting many Spanish, teachers of English. I’m hoping for anything between 10 and 50 people.

5. How will the event be promoted/advertised in the media?

I’ll be using social media, such as Twitter, my Blog, and Facebook. There will be a Facebook event promoting it on my author page and the Book Shop page. I’ll post an event on Goodreads. I’m also planning to send a press release to the local paper and radio station, and of course, word of mouth. I’ll be telling everyone I know to tell everyone they know in the area!

I’m also preparing some merchandising. I’m having professional-looking book markers to give away (designed by my cover artist), I’m also making some fridge magnets with the book’s cover, and some little purse mirrors with my cover on the back.

Espejito All Hallows

The back of my promotional purse mirror

5. How should I dress?

I’m not sure yet. The only thing I’m sure about is that I want to feel comfortable and that I’ll be wearing a dress with lots of black, and black shoes. I’m thinking of this dress. What do you think?

Desigual dress 8 oct

         ‘Carolina’ by Desigual 50Euros

6. What else should I bring, other than my books? Apart from the merchandising products mentioned earlier and 40 books, I’ll need a good pen to sign, water, tissues, and I may prepare a handout, I’m not sure yet.

7. Where will I sit while I’m speaking and what should I do when I’m not?

I’ll have to discuss this with the shop owner. It’s a large shop with several different spaces. There’s even a piano. I’m thinking of asking a former student to play the piano while people stroll in and settle down, and after the short talk. While we’re all mingling!

8. Where should I sign the book and what should I write on the dedication?

I’ll sign on the page where the title is. I’ll ask the person’s name to personalize it, and write something like: For Jenny, hoping you’ll enjoy this journey into Victorian England. Best (if I don’t know them very well) Love (if they’re friends) and my signature, which I’ve designed and practiced, because Luccia Gray is my pen name!

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8. Where will the books to be bought be placed?

No idea. I’ll have to discuss it with the owner. I suppose they buy it at the counter and I sign it at the table where I’ve been speaking.

9. What about photographs?

I’d like to have lots of photos of the event for my social media, and to keep as a reminder of my first book-signing event, but I can’t be taking the photos myself, so I need to find a professional or reliable person. I’m fortunate enough to have a brother-in-law who is an amateur photographer, so I’ve asked him to come along and do the job!

10. Anything else?

I’m sure there are things I’ve missed. Suggestions are welcome.

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While  was on the internet looking for information, I found this webpage with lots of tips and ideas: http://www.writing-world.com/promotion/promo01.shtml

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Have you ever done an author or book-signing event? How did it go?

Read some of the other posts on this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group, or write one yourself! Read or sign up here!