Monday, March 25, 2019

Booksignings: The Good and The Bad by Cheryl Bolen


Since my first book was published 21 years ago I have participated in many book signings, and my experiences have been good and bad. First, the good. I think most published authors will agree that their first booksignings are the the best. Everyone wants your first published book. I sold over a hundred copies at my first booksigning. It was held at our neighborhood independent bookseller’s, and every member of my local Romance Writers’ of America chapter came and bought my book (even though at the time it was a very tiny chapter) and many, many people from my local community came out to support me. 
A Booksigning from My First Book, 1998

 I had another signing for that first book where I sold almost the same amount. A lot of the teachers I used to teach with came to that one. I also went to California where my sister lived, and she arranged a signing at Barnes and Noble where all her friends came, and it too was very successful.

When the next book came out, I got the same amount of publicity for book signings, but those who bought that first book no longer came out in large numbers. Hey, they’d already bought a “romance” book and gotten it signed by the author whom they happened to know. They didn’t need another.

Book signing attendance at subsequent booksignings dropped.

I’ve even done book signings – not in my local community – where I had zero sales.
The West Houston RWA has author autographing at its meetings, and I am really not comfortable signing there. I’ll tell you why. I’d estimate only about ten percent of the chapter members support these signings. And that makes me feel uncomfortable. I always try to support my fellow authors, and when they don’t support me, it hurts my feelings. I know I shouldn’t feel that way. Reading is very subjective. I get that not everyone likes historical romance. There are plenty of genres I don’t like to read. I should have thicker skin. 
One of my last booksignings, at RWA national, San Antonio, publisher booksigning.

After all these years, I’ve gotten to the point I realize the small amount of sales from direct contact won’t impact my royalties, so I choose not to do signings. Except for those sponsored by publishers at the national RWA conference. These are great. The reason? The publishers GIVE away these books. I don’t feel like I’m sitting there begging someone to buy my book. There’s a huge line of readers lining up before the doors open. They’re just dying to get your book. Within ten minutes, the stacks of books on your table has been wiped out, and all the fans leave with smiles on their faces.

Another reason I don’t have to do book signings any more is that since the proliferation of eBooks, 98 percent of my sales now come from eBooks. When I started in this business, 100 percent of my sales were paperbacks.

Not having to do booksignings is just one more reason to love my eBooks.—Cheryl Bolen, whose newest release is Last Duke Standing, a Lords of Eton Regency romance.

20 comments:

  1. Really, book signings with no sales? That breaks my heart. I'll buy your ebooks and leave some 5-star reviews for you as a compensation. I'd love to go to book signings of any of the Romance Gems authors!


    adissidente [at] gmail [dot] com

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    1. Ah, Iris, thanks so much. Be sure to let me know whenever you leave an online review so I can enter you for my $50 giftcard drawing. Email cherylbolen @ sbcglobal.net (without the spaces)

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    2. Hi Cheryl, is this drawing the one from http://jewelsofhistoricalromance.com/ ?
      I'm already in, it's OK! I subscribed to your newsletter :-)

      I'll still leave glowing reviews for you! I want to help!

      Delete
  2. The worst book signings ever were at Walmart, but with the right writing buddy sitting beside you, they can be the most fun! Most customers don't go to Walmart for books, so they were surprised to find a couple of authors at a table trying to sell their first books. LOL!

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    1. I agree, Jan. I never had a good signing at Walmart.

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  3. I agree, don't need to do them but they're sometimes fun if you're with your buddy at the signing. Worst one I had, the person next to me selling her book complained the whole time, not someone I knew. When I was talking to a woman about to buy my book, her child interrupted me. I turned away to give the child a little freebie I was giving away, and my buddy jumped in and sold the woman her own book. Not kidding. I'm not sure the buyer realized what was happening. This author even complained to friends of mine who drove down special to buy my books that they weren't buying hers. It was a memorable time. May you, Cheryl, be blessed with many sales e and print.

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    1. I really hate authors, Nora, who are pushy about trying to sell their books.

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  4. My worst signings have always been at the RWA Literacy For Life event. Just too much competition, including a lot of big names. My best signings are at small, local bookstores and ... most recently ... my two closest libraries. Both advertised for a couple of weeks leading up to the signings. Small conferences are usually good too.

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    1. Oh gosh, Nancy, that literacy signing, is a zoo! And who's going to buy our books when Nora and Sherrilynn are there?

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  5. Wow, selling a hundred books at a signing!! You should feel very fortunate. I can't say my first signings were anything like that. I think the most I ever sold was about 7 books at one time. At the publisher book signing at the Denver RWA National conference was great though. Because they were free! So I did give away all of my stock. But I do like doing signings because you get to chat with people and talk about writing. It's especially great if you have some writing friends sitting near you.

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    1. I did neglect to say, Kari, that I was a longtime news editor of my community newspaper, so I knew a lot of people in the community, and I was a former PTA officer, and team mother, and . . . knew a lot of people. Good old days.

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  6. I would concur with the above experiences. It is what you make of it,but rarely a profitable use of time.

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  7. I don't like signings because I don't like being on display; however, if I do a talk and books are available to buy, I like that.

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  8. It's so interesting to hear about your experiences, Cheryl. I'm sorry signings haven't been altogether positive for you.

    I happen to attend a lot of author events and signings and usually do fairly well. In fact, I've gone to so many that I created a workshop about how to successfully attend one as an author. It's called, "How to Be a Badass Book Busker."

    I'm excited to be presenting it at the New England Chapter's RWA conference in April!

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  9. I have been to a few book signings. I loved it when the author spoke first about their work. Then we all bought the book.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  10. I have been to some book signings. I always go to the table with the least amount of people. Great post.
    debby236 at hotmail dot com

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  11. harperyn [at] outlook [dot] com writes:
    Ahhhh I think if I were an author, book signings would bug me too! The effort to coordinate the event and then estimating how many people will be there, not to mention the lack of security (and sometimes public washrooms!).

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  12. Cheryl, I've grown so used to your blond hair that seeing your photo from back in the day was a shock. I loved doing book signings back then, but I also love not having to do them too—for the reasons you cited. *g*

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  13. I wish I were still a brunette. But I'm too old to go back! Except for my first book, I hated book signings, Joan, and am so glad not to do them any more. They still do them at West Houston meetings, but I choose not to. I hate that you don't come to meetings any more.

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