This is the survey result of 325 people conducted by myself
so I can improve at my own book signings. After completing
the survey, I saw the wealth of insight it had given me. I
felt it was important to share it with a wider audience. I
also interspersed some personal experiences.
The survey was conducted by Catherine in-person with people
who attended book signings at area bookstores in Northern
Virginia metro area between January 2004 and September 2004.
A total of 325 people completed the survey.
Here is their response to one of the questions: Why do you
go to book signings?
If you are wondering how this can help you in marketing your
book. These 10 items are extremely important. They tell
what authors need to give to their audience in order to
increase their books sales and to connect with the audience.
When you know what you audience wants, what they expect, the
guessing fades and transforms into a great book signing
Here are the top ten responses in answer to the first
1. People desire to be acknowledged for taking their time
to come -- by you, the store, and others that came.
Participants who have either already read the book, come to
meet other like-minded people. They have a social intention
and you need to give it to them. Most book signings don't
have any social aspect to them so create one. When you
include ways, you will definitely increase sales. People
want connection, they don't want to be ignored. Get them
to talk to the people around them. Introduce one person you
just met to the next person to them. There are many
techniques or create some of your own. A seasoned author
learned to do this over time. Learn to do it sooner.
2. Curiosity. People are normally curious about authors
and how they write, or how they got their book published.
Tell them about your journey with all this. For the wanta-
be or gonna-be writers there because their vision includes
what you are doing, give them that feedback. It creates
immediate connection. Even if they didn't come not to buy
your book, usually they will change their mind, just because
you settled their curiosity.
3. Entertainment. Yes, you need to be entertaining.
People do want that and they stick around (meaning they
don't get up and walk out) if they get it. Show energy, use
hand gestures, and please stop reading from the page (number
one pet peeve). Over and over again, I saw people leave
when the author continued to read his presentation from the
page. People don't expect perfection. They had a heavy
week, or day, and they want some way to lighten it up. Even
if your book is a heavy topic, lighten it up. Comical
anecdotes about yourself are great!
4. Oh, the old, "what's in it for me" discussion. What are
the benefits for them to read the book? Is there some
information that will help shift their thinking on anything?
Use testimonials, ones that have some meat on their bones.
Yes, you may need to make some assumptions on where the
audience is at. Go ahead and do that. Create a few that
cover a wider perspective and it will deliver to a wider
5. There is nothing wrong with encouraging more sales. Who
else might be interested in the book. Their boss, friends,
sister, who? Go ahead, give gift ideas. What holidays or
events can you tie the book to? Is Christmas, Mother's Day
coming up? Tie your topic and the holiday together if you
can. Mention the type of people who like to read this sort
of book. No, don't say everyone and anybody. This is
sometimes hard for authors because they attach it to
"selling." Drum roll...heaven forbid...selling. When an
audience is so enthralled in a book and its story, their
mind isn't on buying two books. They walk out with one and
then when turning page three or five, a flash appears,
"Ooops, I should have bought one for my boss." I guarantee
you that it is very unlikely they will return to the
bookstore to buy another copy at that point.
6. Do some things where you make extra connections with the
audience. Just don't sit behind the table. Stand up, shake
hands -- no limp ones either, and look them directly in the
eyes when you ask them, "Who would you like me make this out
to?" Ask if they would like another book made out to
Here's a SECRET tip. It makes a BIG connection. The
Japanese do this all the time. Put down the pen. When you
hand over the book, hold it cover up facing them with both
hands, present it to them slowly, purposely, as if it's
worth a million dollars and a very special gift. Look deep
into their eyes at the same time (okay this part is
different than the Japanese), and say silently in your heart
and in your voice, "Thank you." Watch them light up. Of
7. As mentioned earlier, audiences come with a hidden
agenda -- to have a good time. To enjoy themselves. Create
that space of joy and lightness for them. Don't think you
don't have any control. The store wants you to succeed.
Share with them what type of experience you want the
audience to have. Ask for recommendations, ask for things
that haven't been done before too. Give inspiration in
language, in thoughts, and in stories. Stories that pulls
the heart strings. If there isn't one in the book, find
8. There is nothing wrong with giving away a trinket, toy,
item, that comes from one of the characters. Or even it
isn't directly and just somewhat related. You don't need to
spend lots of money on promotional items. Think. This
might require approval by the host store. You will usually
find that as long as it usually doesn't cost them anything
and it increases book sales, they will encourage it. Give a
gift if they buy two or three copies. Find a unique magnet,
or something funny, something that doesn't cost much but it
just ads to the incentive to buy more than one. Sometimes
the book store is returning something and can give you a
remainder sale price. Ask.
9. You can't say thank you too many times. Remember to
smile, say thank you, and be there with a loving and open
heart. This creates an attractive energy and pulls people
10. Share tidbits about how the idea of the book came to
you. Did you write 15 minutes a day, a certain word count?
Did you get help from others, who? Did you struggle with
some part or something? Was there someone there for you
that inspired your journey? Please not the spouse comment
all the time. To singles this is boring and people said a
turnoff. Share tidbits about your childhood. There is a
child in all of us. Share your childhood with your
audience. Especially funny screw-ups.
Well, I hope you enjoyed learning what audiences want at
book signings. This process was definitely an eye-opener
for me. It gave me a real taste of people and their
expectations. Maybe another future survey would be to get
people to tell me why are they leaving early.
? Copyright 2004, Catherine Franz. All rights reserved.
Catherine Franz, a Certified Professional Marketing &
Writing Coach, specializes in product development, Internet
writing and marketing, nonfiction, training. Newsletters and
articles available at: http://www.abundancecenter.com