Book Signing Events: Do They Really Work?

Written by A Guest Author | October 19, 2017

By Kia Carrington-Russell

With the increase of book signing events in recent years for Indie authors, newcomers to the industry often wonder if it’s worth the expense.

The main thingto consider when looking into booking a table at an author signing event is: expense vs exposure.

I went to my first signing in 2014 locally on the Gold Coast, Australia and had no idea what to expect. I took about six boxes of books, which near broke my back to carry, and an amateurish expression when I watched everyone begin their set-up. I was completely out of my depth and it was entirely different from online events and networking. What was even more confusing was that I had to sell myself and my books to the readers who hadn’t yet heard my name or my series. In that first signing I sold no more than ten books and carried back those six boxes to my car–but the exposure for a new author such as myself was what I really aimed for. It encouraged me to look for other events.

When looking at booking your author signing table for an event, you have to look at not only the pricing of the table (between $100-$350 generally) but also all the expenses associated with it. You have to factor in the expense of transport to get there (sometimes including flights), lodging, food and beverages, after-party and even the cost of stock to make sure you have paperbacks to sell.

Often, authors will fill their tables with free swag (bookmarks, posters, etc.) to entice readers to their table in hopes of grabbing their attention long enough, so they buy a book.  The swag is really cool to look at and get, but that too is at the author’s expense.  

I have spent $1,200 on one event including flights, motel and the event itself, and made $400 that day. Now that is a loss of $800. At another event I actually made $200 on top of my expenses, and also greatly increased my exposure. It truly depends on the kind of event, because each one will draw a different crowd.

So far to date I can admit that I have lost more than I have gained, at least finacially but I continue to go to these events because it is good exposure and looks great on your social media. It provides an opportunity to interact with both old and new readers. Even if the people you meet are on a budget and unable to purchase your book today, they might, in the future.

Not only that but you are interacting with fellow writers, some more successful or knowledgeable than yourself. And the best part is: authors love authors. If you are a new author, there is no greater way to make connections in the same field and learn from other authors. At my first signing, I asked a ton of questions to fellow authors who were best-sellers, contracted with traditional publishing houses, and even those who organize events themselves. I personally have made my greatest connections from events.

Often, the larger the event, the greater chances of meeting publishers and bloggers. I’ve even had an up-and-coming director come to my table with interest! I have also made friends with bookstore managers who provided me the opportunity to sign at bookstores like Dymocks and Barnes and Noble in Australia, simply because I was lucky enough to be at that event and shake their hand. You don’t know who you will meet and what opportunity it will provide, until you put yourself out there.

The best part of book signing events is the atmosphere. Readers love getting excited about meeting their favorite authors. Well-known authors bring in a large audience and once those readers have their book signed, they check out the rest of the event–and that is your opportunity to make a sale. Best of all, it brings an opportunity for your readers to meet you in real life. And it’s an event surrounded by books. Who doesn’t love that?

But the costs truly should be factored in. It doesn’t suit everybody to spend so much for something that might not make an immediate financial return. By no means am I implying that it won’t–you might break even or possibly double your investment. What I would recommend is go to an event as a guest first. See what it’s about, and whether you can envision yourself being the author on the other side of the table signing for your readers. Smile, have fun and take heaps of photos!

Bio: Kia Carrington-Russell is an Australian awardwinning author with twelve published books. She is most recognized for her paranormal vampire series, Token Huntress and contemporary romance series, My Escort.  She was announced the ‘Best New Author of 2015’ by AusRomToday and featured in U.K. Glamour Magazine. Learn more at http://www.kiacarrington-russell.com/