If you’re a self-published author, the dream of holding an in-person book signing at a Barnes & Noble bookstore probably seems farfetched.
Yes, the giant retailer sells almost 200 million physical books a year and regularly conducts author events in its stores, but these book events seem to cater only to published authors.
But guess what?
I’m an indie author with one self-published book. As unbelievable as it may seem, my first book signing five months after the book’s release was held inside a Barnes & Noble. I successfully sold a number of books and gained loyal readers.
How did I do it?
By not letting all the what-ifs hiding in my apprehensive author’s mind get in the way. In the end, my determination and patience paid off.
If you’re a self-published author looking for an opportunity to hold a book signing at a Barnes and Noble store, here are a few helpful tips to get your foot in the door.
1. Adopt a positive mindset
Novice writers tend to be scared of how people will react to their work and are not too keen on taking the possibility of being rejected.
As a result, they shy away from opportunities to be discovered and recognized for something that they’ve worked so hard to create. Let go of your negativity and explore every opportunity to showcase your work with enthusiasm and determination despite the outcome.
After all, if you have no confidence in your own work, how will you convince others to trust what you’ve written?
2. Find your store
First, you need to choose which Barnes & Noble store will work best for you and your invited guests.
When you determine your location, contact the store to find out if it has upcoming author events on its calendar or if the store is willing to accommodate an event.
3. Contact the store’s Community Business Development Manager (CBDM)
Barnes and Noble has a section on their website for publishers and authors with specific instructions for how to be considered for an author event.
It’s important to note that as a self-published author, you may feel deterred because the page only refers to published authors. However, as you continue to read, the site gives authors an option to contact the individual store’s Community Business Development Manager (CBDM) or store manager.
In my case, I spoke to the store manager first, and then my inquiry was passed on to the CBDM.
When you get in touch with the CBDM, introduce yourself, let them know you’re interested in hosting an event and find out if the store is open to reviewing book signing proposals. If the store accommodates author events, you can offer to drop by the store and personally submit your proposal to the CBDM.
Be sure to ask the CBDM at your store how they’d prefer to receive proposals; following directions is key.
4. Prepare your book signing proposal
There are many ways to submit a proposal, and creativity has no limits.
If the CBDM does not have a preferred proposal format, you’re free to be as creative as you’d like. You could submit your book proposal in digital or printed format depending on how you want to present your ideas. If you’re lucky, the CBDM may invite you to come to the store so you can discuss your proposal in person.
For my proposal, I chose to submit a media kit using a simple PowerPoint presentation in print format. I utilized the sales copywriter in me by creating a teaser for my book on the first page. I included a blurb, a synopsis, customer reviews (since my book had been out for a few months already), colorful postcards, bookmarks and my book’s website, social media accounts and blogs the book had been featured on.
Don’t forget to include a copy of your book with the proposal and don’t expect itto be returned.
Sending a thank you card to the CBDM for giving you an opportunity to submit a proposal regardless of the outcome is a good way to express your gratitude and establish a positive relationship with a Barnes & Noble store in your area.
5. Be patient and proactive
Patience is key.
It took almost three months to hear from the CBDM at my local Barnes & Noble. When I finally heard back, I received an email with the date of the event and instructions on how the event would be handled.
I called the CBDM immediately and we discussed the process in more detail. In case you do not get feedback from your CBDM, you may follow up two weeks after you’ve submitted your proposal. That’s what I did! I followed up two weeks after submitting my proposal, and continued to follow up via email once a week for three weeks until I received a response.
At the same time, while you’re waiting to hear from the CBDM, you have the option to contact other B&N stores that may accommodate your proposal.
Hosting a book signing at a bookstore, especially with a giant retailer like Barnes & Noble, not only gives you a feeling of pride and self-fulfillment, but also adds credibility to your work as an author.
My book signing at Barnes & Noble has earned me a positive reputation as an indie author among my book’s established and new followers, as well as those who have developed an interest in my book after the event.
I met readers who shared their views about the plots and characters of my book as well as fun, interesting and valuable insights on storytelling that I can incorporate in my future work as an author. I also met other authors who shared their experiences, including their struggles and achievements, that have continuously encouraged me to work harder knowing I’m not alone in this journey.
On top of it all, I was able to share my experience with others, aspiring authors particularly, who may need a bit of inspiration so they are encouraged to take a chance on their writing.
Have you ever considered contacting a local bookstore to host a book event? Let us know in the comments below.