I’m writing this while on a plane, finishing up my nationwide ‘meet the author’ Barnes and Noble book tour! So my advice is fresh and direct from my experience of my first ever book tour. It’s the do’s and don’t, the learnings and the lovings! But before I begin, I want to let you know that it’s still completely unbelievable to me that I’m writing this at all…

And that’s because back in January 2015 I had no idea I was going to write a book.

Yep. Absolutely no inclination, no ideas for a book, it certainly wasn’t on any ‘to-do’ list, and in no way no how was it even on my ‘bucket list.’

But in case you are asking at this point ‘Well how did you write a book, release it and be finishing a ‘meet the author’ book tour in August 2016?’ – I have 3 letters for you: K P I. 

I’ll be back to talk about my KPI experience more over the coming months, but in the meantime, here are my 5 top tips for managing your first book tour.

1 – Community 

I was taught by my publisher to make sure that in the community where the book store you are visiting is, you inform them you are part of that community: let them know you grew up nearby, you go to church nearby, you are connected in networking groups, the member of a country club, etc. The book store’s goal is to gain more community buyers.

Note: I did this 6 out of 7 times

2 – Marketing Collateral 

Have your “media” collected and emailed ASAP to the book store. This means: once the store agrees to your book signing, email your picture, the picture of your book, your bio and anything else you want the store to know or publish about you.

Note: Be sure to follow up and make sure the info is received! (At one store the CRM (community relations manager) never received my info and nearly cancelled my signing, believing I wasn’t interested any more!)

3 – Pre-field the book store – via phone first 

Call the store, make sure they have your books on the shelves and ask them to take a picture for you for your social media. Make sure you encourage the book store to order MORE than the normal amount which is typically 25, since YOU are out of the ordinary. This is also the time to ask when their website will be updated to reflect your event and ask them what “posters” they are having printed for you. They will do table top and window posters for you if you ask.

Note: Show the store your social media posts for the event and past events as this will encourage them to purchase more books. Begin your social media posts as soon as you have your confirmed event date and don’t stop until the day after your event. I shouldn’t have to mention this, but I will: post, post, post about your event on ALL your social media continuously.

4 – Pre-field the book store – in-person 

From a few days out to even one week prior to the event, if possible, visit the book store in person. Introduce yourself to EVERYONE you meet in the store, be extra nice to all you can. This is a partnership and they will help sell your book!

The main purpose of this pre-field in person is to make sure your books are not only in a good place in the store (meaning shelf position) but to set up a unique display of your books in the store, which means counter displays or end cap displays. This is the time you bring your marketing materials (bookmarks/post cards/business cards) and leave them in the store next to this unique display. This encourages sales before your event and creates more excitement for the event.

Note: Find counter space at the customer service desk (this is where people will linger and need to be for obvious reasons) and set up a mini display of your book along with your material. If possible, see if the store will let you set up your poster alongside this display or somewhere strategic in the store.

5 – Leave your marketing materials in the store

Also leave “signed” books in the bookstore, when your event is over. Ask the store manager if it’s OK to leave not only some of your marketing materials but also your book poster as a display to encourage whatever is left of your books to be sold. Ask the manager or let the manager know that you are going to sign a few of the books left from the event with “signed copy stickers” along with this display.

Note: Most authors know that if books are signed they cannot be returned so this helps you sell more books in the store. Also at every store where I have left my book poster, my books sold out in that store.

6 – Keep learning

Finally, after each book signing, you will get better and better at selling your book! This is when you bring back your master sales skills, by speaking with everyone that you meet at your event, whether they are focused on your book or not and be an engaging author to find the potential sale for all “readers” in the store.

Follow these simple steps to ensure a fun, invigorating and fruitful tour!