library-1021724_640Our thanks to author and creator of C. Hope Clark for this insightful guest contribution!

This past week, a new author with a newly-released book asked how I approached libraries about holding book signings. The question took me aback a second, because from my experiences over these last few years, there’s almost no such thing as just a signing anymore…

First, I don’t ask libraries for a book signing. I suggest a presentation for their customers. While books are set up in the back of the room for sale, that’s not the point of the event. Libraries are educational, and writers have to think beyond just autographs. Signings by themselves can appear mildly selfish, so instead, you want to offer your services to libraries. Maybe do them in conjunction with a holiday or larger event.

When I appear at libraries, I’m teaching writing, editing, publishing, marketing, and mysteries, not appearing to talk about selling my books. That’s not to say that my books aren’t woven into the presentation. But your chances improve for acceptance if you approach libraries with more opportunity for them than for you.

The author responded that she didn’t want to promote herself, only wanted readers to buy the book. So I replied:

If readers only wanted the book, they wouldn’t want the signatures or the appearances and would just order the thing from Amazon. Readers want more of authors these days. They want to know the details behind the book, behind the author. Promotion is a big deal with so many people writing a book. Consider these appearances as events, more than book selling. Otherwise, you will continue selling five books here and five books there forever.

There have been events where I sold not a single book…however, I found ways to have my appearance paid for. Yes, I’m am paid to appear at most library functions. My library events alone were about $8,000 of my income this year, because I was willing to speak about writing, publishing, editing, and the magic behind mysteries, making the books secondary.

It’s a balance, and you learn as you go. Become more than the author of a book. Assure librarians you are there for them. Become a professional author with the book being a tool. That’s how you begin accruing a writing income.

C-Hope-Clark-300x300C. Hope Clark has proudly edited for over 15 years, and her Friday newsletters reach 40,000 writers. Hope’s passion, however is her fiction. She’s author of the award-winning Carolina Slade Mysteries and The Edisto Island Mysteries, with Echoes of Edisto being her most recent release. She is published by Bell Bridge Books and lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central SC when she isn’t strolling Edisto Beach. /


2 thoughts on “Are Book Signings Too Old Fashioned?

  • December 22, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Terrific advice. I do agree – often we are too focused on sales – and miss the greater point of community outreach and education. Good for you for setting a great example.

    • December 23, 2016 at 12:43 am

      Thank you Brad – Hope is excellent at working her marketing (and her newsletter rocks!)

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