This post focuses on the current process of scheduling book signing events with Indigo Chapters stores; however, some of these tips are helpful regardless of the venue.
As the numbers of self and partner published authors continue to increase, it’s becoming more and more efficient and effective for the author to take the lead in this process.
Keeping in mind that things are constantly evolving and changing, here are eight great tips that will help you in scheduling successful book signing events/dates.
1) Think about where your target audience is. There are some books (topics) more suited to say an Indigo Chapters’ audience than others. Also, individual Chapters’ demographics can differ too, depending on its location and patrons.
2) Assuming there’s a fit, it’s ideal when you can pop into the store in person and introduce yourself to the manager in charge of consignments and/or events. Let them know that you are a published author and provide them with a bit of background and a copy of your book. In general, they want to know that it is of good quality, aligns with their audience, and your content complements (versus duplicates) their existing line-up of book signings.
3) Be patient with this process, plan ahead, and be as flexible as you can. Saturday’s or Sunday’s from 1pm to 4pm are good times to consider scheduling your signings.
4) If you can’t get into the store in person prior to the date you hope to secure, it is quite fine to introduce yourself by phone and email and send a jpeg or PDF of your book cover. Again, provide some background; an excerpt of your back cover text often serves as a good intro. In this case, they will still likely prefer that you mail them a copy of your book.
5) Once you have the date booked: If you have your own stock of books, you will simply bring them with you on the day of your book signing. You’ll be given a consignment agreement to sign, along with Chapters’ ISBN stickers to apply to the books you sell. This is where you will record how many books sold at your event, which the store will cross-reference with their sales of the day. As of 2016, the percentage split is currently, 45% – 55% (Chapters – author). If you have produced your book using Print on Demand services, the store will likely be able to order your book from a national catalogue and get it in for you in time for your book signing. However, your margin of return is typically less than the first example where an author is bringing their own stock, and there may be other requirements or responsibilities on the part of the author as far as the stock goes (refer to your service provider or publishing contract).
6) Most stores are good at displaying your book signing event info about one week prior to your date, in store, and online (usually Facebook). Some stores are also quite accommodating should you wish to bring a larger stand-up banner into the store, but you do have to check with each to be sure. Everything else is really up to the author and their network, including their publisher if they have one. The true value of doing a book signing in Indigo Chapters, in particular, is almost just as much about the pre-promotion and exposure, as it is about the day-of book sales.
7) Depending on how your event goes, and whether they have room to keep some consignment stock, you may be fortunate to have the store agree to keep some of your stock for sale in that store. This is definitely great in one way; however, you need to keep track of this and follow-up with the store directly regarding any sales, etc.
8) After your book signing event, you simply invoice Indigo Chapters for the books that sold, email it to your contact at the store, and they in turn will submit it to their corporate offices for payment (which usually takes a month, and comes directly to you in the form of a cheque, less their cut).
When reaching out to local, independent gift and bookstores (etc.) that have a similar audience to you, it’s usually a less formal process. The percentage split might be 25%-35% – 65%-75% (store – author). Always take a win/win and collaborative approach when exploring the opportunities here. It’s great when you connect with locations that want to stock and sell your books ongoing, or at least for a certain time, and are willing to volume purchase at a discount.
Although leaving your books at a few stores on consignment can be a good idea in the very beginning, the challenge again is keeping track, so be mindful of this.
I’ll wrap up this post with a link to another article I wrote a while back which ties into this topic well. It’s called Books Don’t Sell Because They’re on Bookshelves or in Catalogues.
Be proud of the fact that you’ve come this far, and now, you have an opportunity to get out there and share your story/knowledge with the world.
As the saying goes, start small, but think big . . . And stay the course.
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