Sunday, March 1, 2015

A word (or two) about book signings…

Signings are fun. They’re a great way to get your name out there, and a wonderful place to connect with readers and other authors. They can also take quite a bite out of your budget.

First, let me state unequivocally that I admire and respect the event planners who take the time (we’re talking months here…many, many months) out of their lives to put on these shindigs. I’ve seen the amount of work that goes into these things and let me tell you, if you really sat back and thought about it, put yourself in their shoes, you’d have a whole new appreciation for the amount of phone calls, interviews, and flat out, back-breaking work these people put into the events. My humblest thanks.

That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when you, the author, sign up. For those new authors out there, let me give you a word of caution. It’s really easy to get caught up in the signing frenzy that is our world. If you notice, most events sell out a year or more in advance. If you want to secure your spot, you have to pay your table fee, or at least half, up front. That can add up quickly. Eight signings a year (what I did in 2014 and what I had planned to do in 2015) at an average of $100 a spot (yes, yes, some are more, some are less, that’s why I said average), that’s $800 right there. And since the event might be a year or more out, you’re not even thinking about travel and lodging expenses yet. You just want your name on that attending authors’ list.

Now for the caution part – make sure to read the fine print (usually not so fine, I’ve never had to go digging for this) regarding refunds if life happens to step up and you find you can’t attend a signing (or three). Keep in mind that each event is different, being put on by different people, and will have different exclusions. Some signings offer a refund by date. In other words, if you cancel before a certain date, you will get your table fee back, no questions asked. Some event coordinators allow you to try to sell your spot on your own, thereby recouping your money that way. Some don’t offer any refunds and restrict the selling of your table.

Here’s the deal – the planners who are putting on the events, taking the time out of their day, get to make the rules. If they decide no refunds (and it’s stated) then there are no refunds. **Let me just say here that I have cancelled three events this year and was fortunate enough to recoup my table fees for all events** It’s difficult to anticipate what life may throw at you eleven months from now. So if you do pay in advance for a bunch of events, make sure that it’s money you can afford to lose because you may or may not see it again. I know, I know, I’m not in the position to lose $100, either. But if the event planner was upfront about the refund conditions (and I wouldn’t sign up for one without knowing what those are), then you know what to expect.

So, be wise and thoughtful about your signings. And I’m saying this from experience. Give some thought to your total expenses; not just the table fee. Consider travel expenses, eating out, lodging, and let’s face it, you know you’re going to be splurging on some books! You want this to be a fun experience; one you look forward to, year after year.
And don’t blame the hosts if you can’t make it. You wouldn’t expect Katy Perry to refund your ticket if you ended up getting sick the night of the concert. Signings are no different.

One last thing to keep in mind; you will attend awesome events and you will attend lousy events. Again, I speak from experience. No matter your experience, have fun and meet people. That’s what it’s about. Sure, you can mentally file the bad ones away so that you don’t go to them again. But I never once felt (well, maybe once) that my money had been wasted at a signing. Because I met readers, hung out with other authors, in most cases did some sightseeing, and overall had a wonderful time. Oh, and sold books! Yeah, that’s right, that’s why I go to these things.

Remember – quantity isn’t better than quality. And an awesome signing will stay with you for the rest of your life!

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