The people you meet at your booksignings can turn out to be some of the most influential players in your brand. These are people who took the time to come out to meet you, or at the very least, happened upon you at the bookstore and made the effort to connect. We are not talking social networking in the Web 2.0 sense here. This is shaking-hands, look-’em-in-the-eye, say-your-name kind of connecting. Invaluable. These people have met you — not a YouTube meet, nor even receiving an email or a blog comment response sort of meet. They have met you face-to-face. On some level, they now have a relationship with you. They will remember that the next time they see your name on the web or in a store. When they talk about you and your book, they will remember the rush of the meeting, of shaking your hand, and of hearing you say their name. That is a powerful factor in emotional branding and creating player evangelism in a competitive fan-based market. Jane Porter, photographed above on one of her many, many signings, has this process down. She gets emails all the time from people who say, “I met you at your signing at ______.” People remember her as much as they remember her books.
Do not let the visitors to your booksigning get away without ensuring that they are on your newsletter list. Consider two options: First, if you have a laptop (and a second person to monitor it in case your signing gets busy), you can encourage people to sign up for your mailing list through your site right there. This might work in odd situations — when stars align to allow it without it being pushy or weird. You run the risk, of course, that they might be drawn into your site and want to surf. Plus, this is your chance to meet people away from the computer. You may not want to compete with the internet. (In one anecdote a client reported that her laptop, there to introduce visitors to her site, got usage on eBay and MySpace while she was busy talking with people. Hmmm.)
The second option is pretty easy. Offer an attractive newsletter sign-up sheet. Ours is free and downloadable from this post — one more helpful tool in addition to our stickers to make your booksigning a success. Why spend the time to download and use this one instead of just whipping out a sheet of blank paper at your signing? People respond to good design. Something nicely presented (like a clean home for a party, for instance) speaks volumes: “I took the time to present nicely for you. You matter to me.” That kind of validation is rarely articulated, but most certainly felt.
Please note that you will want to write your URL in the appropriate place on the sheet, especially if your url is anything other than yourname.com — those dot-nets and hyphenated URLs are very forgettable, unfortunately. Having a take-away piece, such a a nicely designed bookmark to stick in the book helps reinforce your url.
Being a design studio, we couldn’t help but to take this a step further and personalize it. Not that fans of Julia Quinn won’t know who they are meeting when they get to her table at a signing, but branded collateral cuts a very professional presentation for anyone, whether NYT or debut. And it contributes to help reinforce the overall positive experience of meeting you. It doesn’t take very long for us to do it and you’ll have it forever. Email us and ask about it. (And yes, we can add snail mail info if you wish.)
Be aware that there are all kinds of laws surrounding electronic newsletters (referred to as CAN-SPAM laws) and options for enlistees, and new ones being added all the time. You will want to sign these people up yourself through your back-end (or type in the names and send the list to your web studio and ask them to do it), as otherwise they will get a prompt to complete the process. They have already given you their permission to be on the list (hang onto your sign up sheets in a file somewhere, at least until you have sent out a newsletter or two), and you may lose them if they need to respond to a prompt, especially if that prompt is more than a day later.
More booksigning tips and strategies to come!