Things to Consider for Non-Bookstore Book Signing Events:
- Reserve the date and time with the store, coffee house, etc. manager or owner. (This point should be a 'no brainer.') Make sure that the date you pick doesn't conflict with a major event or holiday. (Do you really want to be the author who plans a book signing on Super Bowl Sunday or during a key World Cup match?)
- Double check food arrangements. Some venues, like clothing stores, won't allow food. Others will insist that the food is purchased from the proprietor with no outside food allowed. Ask ahead of time - don't just show up with plates of goodies.
- Ask about decorations and signage. Make sure that any decorations, signs, table set ups, etc. are approved ahead of time with the venue management.
- If you do a reading, make sure that you have a sound system. Coffee shops can be loud. Ms. Cameron had a microphone and speakers to use for her reading, comments, question and answer period, and drawings.
- Have a sign up sheet for future communications. Anyone willing to trek out to your book signing will more than likely want to receive updates and announcements about future events and books. Be sure to communicate how their information will be used and then try not to overload their email inbox. (Sending too many newsletters, announcements, etc. is a fast path to 'unfollow' status or the trash bin. The worst case scenario is that you lose a reader by being over communicative.)
- Have nice promotional materials and giveaways. Not every person who comes to your book signing will buy a book. Give them a well designed and professional business card, free read booklet, post card, or bookmark for future reference. You never know what will happen...they may pass your promo piece to a friend!
- Be prepared to make a sale. Order your books ahead of time with plenty of cushion for delays or lost shipments. Have change and / or a way to take credit cards. Don't assume that the venue will assist you with the sales process. Make sure that the forms of payment you will accept are communicated to your readers. (You can make this a fine print note on your invite. :D )
Speaking of being prepared to make a sale, we know your next question...
I'm an author, not a retailer. How can I process credit card charges?
In the United States, there are a number of ways for individuals to process credit card charges during a book signing or sale. If you have a smart phone or smart pad, Square is an easy way to process credit card charges. The Square card reader plugs into your smart phone or pad via the headphone jack. Customers (readers) sign for their charges with their finger or a stylus using your smart device's touchscreen. Note: as of the date of this post's publication, Square card readers are free, however Square charges a 2.75% fee per swipe and the money is deposited into your bank account within two business days.
PayPal is also another means for processing credit charges. Like Square, PayPal also has a card reader that can plug into a smart device headphone jack. In fact, a smart device or computer can be used to process charges via PayPal. Note: as of the date of this post's publication, PayPal fees were 2.7% per swipe. Plus, setting up a PayPal account is free and live technical support is available.
Regardless of which service you choose, be sure to do your homework. Set up your profile and test the system well before the day of your event. Read the fine print and know what fees apply to your sales. Also, make sure that you have good cellphone coverage and / or internet access to ensure that you will be able to process transactions.
Of course, if all else fails, you can try to make arrangements with a local bookseller. When we are out and about conducting training classes we will often touch base with our favorite bookseller, Debbie Burke owner of Jan's Paperbacks, to see if she is available to come and sell books. Yes, it is one more thing to coordinate. But it helps to build a relationship with a local bookseller and helps them sell more books.
DISCLAIMER: Author Marketing 101 is NOT advocating the use of one service over another. We are merely offering examples of possible services that may be available in your area. Again, do your homework! Read the fine print. Ensure that any service you choose utilizes encryption to protect the information of your customers (readers).