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Successful Book or Media Signing Events

Everyone likes to meet the author...or director...or creator! If they're interesting!

Signing events can be a enthusiasm building part of a book or media marketing plan if they are scheduled, promoted and conducted successfully.

Unless your last name carries the same weight as King or Spielberg, however, signings and meet-the-creative events need production to attract attention and make the event stellar in fun, entertainment and content value. That's where the scheduling, promotion and production of the event come in.

Step 1: Create a compelling media kit

This folder of information for reporters and editors at local or national media is leaning more to a digital kit than the old-fashioned print version. With CDs and flash drives, it's easy for reporters to copy your press releases directly into their computer, saving them time and finger strain! They can then just add their own personalizations to send one more story on its way!

The concept of the kit, however, is important. Many creatives put this information up on their website or MySpace page for easy access by the journalists who need content, but can't attend your events. Almost all writers and reporters today scour the Internet for what's hot and what's current.

Press Release: Who, what, when, where, how, and why. Keep it to one page. If you have more...break your story up into multiple releases.

Author Bio: Another one page that highlights relevant experience, roots, and quotes that are ear-catching.

Professional Promo Photo: For nature and sustainability themes, consider an outdoor portrait. Nothing flashy, lighten the makeup...make it informal.

Fact Sheets: If you can break your message into several sub-messages, you have several chances to get stories published about your work. Some of the common themes that catch a reporter's eye are: current event tie-in, struggle to overcome a challenge or hardship, awards and achievements and what they are based on, cutting edge trends that tie-in, and unique experiences the creative contributes to the culture.

Third Party Endorsements: Who believes in your work, values it, notices its uniqueness? These endorsements are best coming from an "expert" in their field so they know what they are speaking about! No reporter likes to be embarrassed by old news or me-too innovation, or flimsy science, etc -- and they rely on the gatekeepers of knowledge (such as professors, business leaders and high ranking government leaders) to help vet the authenticity and value of the wide ranging subjects they are called on to report. They can't know everything, and they appreciate a helping hand!

Copies of Pertinent Reviews and Articles: Refer to the elegantly written paragraph above on "Endorsements" :-)

List of Author Appearances: Past, present and future appearances are another endorsement of people who know your field...and like what you're doing. They also attract readers who are members of those sponsoring groups, etc. This is where name dropping really helps everybody!

Sample Interview Questions: Have a unique opinion or unusual experience? Help the reporter out all you can by providing some leading questions that might be of interest to their readers. They serve as starting points and can help them think outside the usual box of who, what, when, where, why and how. HoHum!

Contact Information: Remember to put YOUR contact information on every page in case pages get separated. And also include where your product can be purchased. These retail locations can be advertisers...and can help the publisher place your article advantageously for their advertisers. And you might even want to touch base with nearby advertisers...or related advertisers to let them know you're being interviewed...they might want to piggyback on your visibility!

Locate the Retailers...and Contact Them

Use the internet to help you locate bookstores, video retailers, movie theaters, and other venues in the media's territory. Sometimes these stores may support author or creative team appearances. Chain stores like often publish store locations on their websites.

Most retailers schedule signings 60 to 90 days in advance and sometimes even longer. Before calling, plan what you're going to say.

1. Ask if the store hosts signings and if so, whom to contact. You're likely to be given the public relations manager's name and contact information.

2. Have a 30 to 60-second pitch ready just in case you get through. Make it conversational...but colorful! Lead with why their customers will like your topic! Ask who their main clientele is...and slant your spiel to that audience if you can. Always be professional and polite and never delve into the plot or details of your message -- keep it focused on the customer's needs and desires!

3. If you succeed in finalizing an event, discuss details with your cotact. Ask what pre-publicity will be done in and out of the venue. Verify whether you will give a presentation or a reading or just answer questions. Who will introduce you...and how do you provide them with the press kit and a written introduction. When and how many books will be ordered?

4. About three weeks before the event, call the retailer to verify that the product -- books or videos, etc. -- are in the store or have been ordered. Give them time to punt!

Publicize the Event

They can't do everything! Ask your contact for a media list and pitch local media -- newspapers, radio, blogs, tv, website editors...etc -- if they would liek to do a feature article about your TOPIC. Schedule media interviews as close to your event date as possible.

Add their names to your email list. Create a promotional campaign in an email service such as and schedule several emails to go to your contact lists. Personalize these message for different specialties in your list: one personalized theme for community newspapers, another for trade journals...and another for blogs.

Be sure to ask your friends and family if they know people in the area...and add these people to your email list. See if your contacts will forward an email message to their contacts -- it means more to the recipient!

Send releases out at least 4 weeks before the event. And again at 2 weeks. And again a couple days before the event. Repetition helps!

Make Your Event Sizzle!

Arrive early -- at least 15-30 minute early. Greet your host and the person who will introduce you. Greet your guests at the door! Many people are shy at events but establishing a personal relationship helps sell books or DVDs.

Keep your presentation short. Hard seats make people fidget and they lose their focus on your message! Keep it between 15 and 20 minutes -- and leave 10 minutes for questions.

A sizzling presentation with enthusiasm and interesting information or details sells your work! Practice! Answer questions very briefly. Break off question to start signing books while there is still interest. They can ask more questions at the table! ... for brief answers!

Keep the audience wanting more...that's better than boring them to death!

Give them a web address and email address in case they have additional questions that you can't get to. That email address makes them feel very special -- and few people actually follow through, but those who do can be very good contacts.

Be Professional and Humble

Don't pout if no one shows up...or only a few. Walk around the store and recruit people to drop by your event. They might enjoy the added bonus to their shopping spree.

Remember to send a thank you note! Build a relationship with these PR managers -- they have friends! And you will want to come back with your next release, too!

PS: Choose your FIRST EVENT carefully. An enthusiastic group can give you wonderful clippings and testimonials to raise interest in follow-on events! Make the first one a natural, deeply committed niche group!

REFERENCE: Parts of this article were inspired by Southwest Signature, the newsletter of the Arizona Book Publishing Association.

Additional tips on maximizing your promotional campaign with email wasprovided by