Yesterday, I had my first book signing/reading at Moultonborough Public Library, about an hour south of where I live. What an awesome day, too! For years, I’d heard nightmare stories about an author sitting alone at a table and no one showed, so I wasn’t expecting much. Still, I figured it was good practice for speaking in public, which makes me sick to my stomach.
I did the signing with another author, Marni Graff, who had four books in print. Four! And Marred, well, it’s not even available yet in Kindle never mind in print (which won’t be till 2016). What would I do? Sit there with my postcards like an idiot? No frickin’ way!
I went on all the promotional sites…Vista Print, Zazzle, Oriental Trading, etc…to look for something to give to potential readers. But who needs another pen or magnet? Two minutes out the door and they’d probably toss it in the trash. No, that wouldn’t work, either. Besides, it can be costly to buy this junk. And for what? It won’t sell your book. Isn’t that the point of doing the signing in the first place? Though I did buy postcards and business cards with my cover. I think all authors should have these in stock.
I needed to think of something that would sell books and work for a promotional gift. So I came up with excerpt books. They were a huge hit, too. Incidentally, if you self-publish and can’t afford to buy print versions right away, or publish with a small press who only publishes Kindle versions, you can use these excerpt books so you don’t have to miss out on book signings.
How To Create Your Own
As a writer my imagination sometimes is more creative than my ability to produce. As such, I had visions of elaborate mini-Marred’s (pictured above). Do yourself a favor and keep your imagination in check. I wasted hours. I will complete a few of these hardcovers for librarians as a lure for them to stock my book(s). I’ll let you know how it works.
For readers, I made soft covers. See the business card as a bookmark? Works great!
First, I bought postcard-size notebooks (4″ X 6″) at the dollar store. Then I printed the prologue and part of Chapter One, leaving the reader hanging at a suspenseful moment to ensure they bought the book. You wouldn’t want to give them a satisfactory ending because then there’s no reason to type that link into their search engine. No, leave them off at a moment where they must find out what happens next.
After that key point, when you’ve got them on the edge of their seat, hit them with the buy links. At the end I added a short note thanking them for their interest, my website and mailing list links. I didn’t include my social media links, but you could. The only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want to overwhelm them with too many links.
Once you have the right section and your buy prompts, shrink to 4″ X 6″, which you can do in Word. It’s easiest if you print four pages to each sheet of paper. If you can’t figure out how, I’ll walk you through what to do. Let’s say you could only print one excerpt page per sheet of paper. Then you’d want to take a clean sheet and glue your book pages to that so there are four to a sheet. The reason you want four to a sheet is because otherwise you’ll waste half a realm of paper. Save trees! Pictured on the right is one the printer screwed up, but you can get the idea.
Print your desired copies — I started with twenty — and then cut the paper in half and half again, so you end up with four tiny pages the same size as your notebook. Actually, my husband was in charge of the cutting. He took a straight edge and a razor knife and sliced ten page at a time. Nice and clean with no jagged edges. Perfect!
When I first started making these I had visions of gluing each page to the existing pages of the notebook, but soon realized glue sticks suck these days. Within minutes they curled and peeled. Not good. So I tore out all the pages of the notebook and left only the cover and elastic (you don’t need the elastic, but my notebooks came with it). If you buy your notebooks at the dollar store, this is a lot easier than it sounds.
See? The pages come out in one chunk. Now my husband has paper for notes. Great for kids to scribble on, too!
Once you have the empty shell, you place your pages inside and staple along the spine. Take one of your cover postcards and, with Elmer’s glue, adhere it to the front of your notebook. The staples won’t show; don’t worry. I stuck a business card in there as a bookmark. And voila!
Here’s the finished product with the elastic… Adorable, right?
Before the excerpt I included my back cover blurb and title page with copyright wording, except I reworded the first line this way: “This excerpt book is for your personal enjoyment only and may not be resold.” Publisher, cover artist, editor, proofreader, same as in the actual book. And I left this wording too: “This story is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.” Not only do I believe it’s best to protect ourselves but I wanted it look as close to the actual book as it could.
The book signing was a huge success! We nearly filled the room. Each of us took turns talking about ourselves (which was when my stomach turned the most) and then our book(s). Then we each did a reading. I read part of the Prologue and half of Chapter One. Afterward we had a Q & A. People asked really great questions, too. Some asked about our process. I had people ask about my research, how I go about it and so forth. Some wanted to know how many hours a day we worked. Some wanted to know if we become our characters in order to write them. If we miss our characters once the book is complete. Wonderful questions!
Lines of fans (yup, I have fans now. Yay!) formed in front of each of us, everyone chatting, signing, talking books. It was the best day ever! They loved the excerpt books, too. Because they couldn’t buy the book right there on the spot, this made them feel like they left with something special from the author. Personalized and signed. They all told me they couldn’t wait to place their order. I even had some folks who tried to pay me for them.
My husband carries a few excerpt books wherever he goes. When the subject of books comes up, which usually begins with him, he hands them one of these puppies and the next thing I know, they’re buying the book and emailing me to tell me they can’t wait to read it. They’re a wonderful solution when you don’t have print versions available yet.
Personally, I’ll always make these for upcoming novels. I can’t tell you how fantastic they work. People love the personal touch. They like to think of the work you’ve put into these excerpt books, something just for them, so they can have a special memento. And these folks are special. Without our readers, we’re nothing. The excerpt book is a nice way to show folks how much they mean to us. In my opinion, it’s the least we can do for them, especially while building our audience.
Yesterday, I fell a little in love with each and every person who approached my table. What a fantastic feeling! Now, I’m hooked. I can hardly wait to do another signing. My FB friends saw the photos, but I’ll post a few here too, for you. I look terrible in most of them. Oh, well.