How to Write a Book Signing Proposal

So, it’s finally happened. You’ve been published in print. You have an actual book you can hold and touch and show to people and say, “I wrote this!”

First off, congratulations! Please take a moment–or several–to enjoy your accomplishment! I know I did. 🙂 Once you’re through basking, though, you might wonder, “What’s next?” Obviously, you want to promote your new book, and one of many ways to do that is to hold a book signing.

A book signing can take place at a bookstore, library, church, school, or any other location that has ties to your subject matter, such as a seminar on saving for retirement (if your book happens to include savvy financial advice) or a fundraiser for cancer research (if your book is focused on stories of cancer survivors). A book signing can be a nonprofit event, a for-profit event, or something in between. The choice is yours.

Once you’ve decided what type of book signing you want to do and where you’d like to do it, the next step is to write a proposal outlining your plans, and submit it to the venue you hope will host the event. That’s where this blog post comes in.

A few years ago, when The Dog Did What? and The Cat Did What? first came out, I traveled around from pet store to pet store, hoping to set up a nonprofit book signing to benefit an animal charity. One of the first responses I got: “Sounds great. Come back with a proposal.”

So I went home, hopped online, and did a search for “how to write a book signing proposal.” Given that there are ten BAZILLION examples of how to write query letters and cover letters and synopses and summaries and log lines and outlines and everything else a writer could possibly need to know in the business, I figured I’d find what I needed right away.

W-R-O-N-G. I found absolutely zero examples of how to write a proposal for a book signing event. That’s right, not ONE. It didn’t even seem to be a real thing. “A book signing proposal? What’s that?” the Google page seemed to ask, its digital eyebrows quirking in confusion.

Apparently, I was on my own. So, I looked up everything I could about writing other types of proposals. Most of what I found didn’t apply to my situation–I was a writer trying to land a book signing, not a construction company  trying to undercut my competition’s lumber prices in order to win a contract. Eventually, I managed to skim the microscopic amount of actual, useful advice from the overwhelming river of info, and used it to create my own proposal, which I will share below.

But first, a few tidbits to get you started:

  • Address your proposal to a specific person, if possible (e.g. if you want to hold the event at a bookstore, find out who is in charge of events at that store and address it to that person)
  • Keep the length of your proposal to one page
  • Be as detailed as you can about what you want to do and why
  • Think of any questions the person receiving the proposal might have (e.g. “How much do the books cost?” or “What happens to unsold copies?”) and answer those questions in the proposal

And now, possibly for the first time on the Internet, here is an actual, real live example of how to write a book signing proposal. (And yes, you are MORE than welcome to use this as a template. Please do, in fact. It would make me happy to know that someone else benefited from my search engine-induced suffering.)

Book Signing Fundraiser Proposal – Nonprofit Organization

Dear Nonprofit CEO:

Greetings! My name is Gretchen Bassier, and I’m a local author interested in using my writing to give back to my community. This summer, two of my nonfiction stories were published in the books Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What? and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What? I would love to do a book signing to benefit an organization that cares about animals as much as I do.

As one of the authors, I can purchase the books for a special price of $7.50 each (in cases of twenty). Nonprofit organizations also have the option of purchasing the books themselves for only $5.00 per book (in cases of twenty). The books can be sold for any price you choose. (The official “list price” for the books is $14.95.)

If I purchase the books myself, then for each book sold at the fundraiser, I would receive the initial price I paid – $7.50 – and your organization would receive one hundred percent of the profits. After the signing, I would take home any unsold books for use at future events.

Alternately, if your organization purchases the books, then any unsold copies would remain with you, to be sold at future events and/or in your gift shop. I would, of course, do the book signing at no cost to you.

A book signing fundraiser would probably work best in conjunction with another event, such as a dog walk, golf outing, a vaccine clinic, or an adoption day. People already planning to attend the event will have an additional way to help out your organization (by buying a book – or two!), and the inclusion of the book signing might also draw in some people who wouldn’t otherwise have attended.

If I were holding a book signing at one of your events, I would promote the signing with flyers in the weeks leading up to the event, reach out to local media to help publicize the event, and have my publicist advertise the event on Facebook and Twitter. On the day of the signing, I would arrive at least half an hour before the start time and bring: a table, a chair, a tablecloth, markers and pens, business cards, a bowl of individually-wrapped mints, bottled water, display stands for the books, the books themselves (if I was the one designated to purchase them), and most likely a stack of bookmarks featuring the animals from my stories (to be used as a giveaway).

If you are interested in having me hold a signing at any of your future events, please let me know so I can have everything ready well in advance. Thank you for taking the time to consider my proposal, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with you and raise some money for our beloved critters!

Sincerely,
Gretchen Bassier

Phone number: XXX-XXXX  Email: xxxx@yahoo.com

Thanks in part to the above proposal, I have now held two book signings to benefit Furget Us Not Rescue (go check out their adoptable animals!). I had a great time at both events, and I will have another post detailing what I learned from my first two book signing adventures.

Example of a flyer I created to advertise my first book signing

Example of a flyer I created to advertise my first book signing

Once you’ve got your one-page proposal ready to go, here are a few useful items to put in the packet along with it:

  • A cover image of your new book
  • A press release or brief description of your book
  • Your business card

Not so hard, right? Just keep it simple, professional and informative, and I guarantee you’ll make a good first impression. Also, don’t forget to have FUN–you’re doing this to celebrate your new book. Cherish the moment, and all of the opportunities that go along with it.

Example of what happens when you let a friend borrow your camera during your book signing at PetSmart: random lizard pics!

Example of what happens when you let a friend borrow your camera during your book signing at PetSmart: random lizard pics!

So, hopefully now you know how to write a book signing proposal, to whom it should be addressed, and what should be included along with it. You even have a concrete example to use as a guide. So, what are you waiting for? Get your packet prepped, and get ready to sign some books!

Up next on ATHF: Long overdue TV reviews (I know, I know!), a baby shower idea that the writer in me just LOVES, and possibly some Potter-mania (we’ll see what happens at the release party tomorrow!)

 

 

 

 

Flash Fiction Chronicles’ Annual String-of-10 Flash Fiction Contest is BACK!

My absolute FAVORITE writing contest of the year is back again, and it’s only open for one week – starting today. The reason it’s my favorite – it’s the most creatively-challenging contest I’ve ever run across. Also, it’s free. Also, I never do well in this contest, which you would think would make me want to quit, but instead it inspires me to work even harder every time.

The gist of the contest: They give you ten prompt words. Your goal is to incorporate at least FOUR of the ten into a 250-word (or less) work of fiction. They also give you a quote for thematic inspiration, although I believe use of the theme is optional. They have cash prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, as well as a special prize for best use of the theme. All of the prize winners get published and also interviewed. As a bonus, the winners also get free books!

Possibly helpful advice: Think of ALL the different ways you might use each word, not just the most obvious way (e.g. “grave” can be where someone is buried, but it can also be used to describe a dire situation or a serious facial expression). Don’t necessarily go with your first story idea. And definitely read the past winners so you can get the flavor of what type of writing this contest favors.

This year’s prompt words:

SCRAGGLY – PECAN – ROUTE – SUCCINCT – ACCUMULATE – HANDLE – BIAS – EXIST – COAST – HANDKERCHIEF

Read the official rules and the inspirational quote here: http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/string-of-10-seven-flash-fiction-contest-begins-now/

Can you feel the ideas hatching already? Well, what are you waiting for – get cracking! These things are due on the 15th, people!

Best of luck!

-Gretchen

Ten Things You Should Never Say to a Writer

A friend and fellow writer found this painful-yet-all-too-true list on Pinterest. The proper title is “10 Things People Say to Creative Writers (but shouldn’t)” by Graphospasm. Having personally been a victim of Item #6 (“Have you been published yet?”) this list struck an ouchy chord with me, reminding me that a lot of people who aren’t writers don’t “get it.” In many cases, they don’t know what will hurt our feelings, what will make us bristle, and what is just plain RUDE.

I have no doubt the person who asked me whether I’d been published wasn’t trying to make me feel bad. Yet, he did. I was not published at that time, and I can still remember the feeling of my face turning red as I tried to stammer my defense: “Well, to get published, you really have to submit aggressively. Like, a lot of stories, to a lot of different publishers, and so far I haven’t really done that…” He was not impressed. Cue horrible feelings of failure.

Looking back, I feel bad that I felt bad. There was no reason for me to. I should have recognized that this individual simply didn’t understand the truth about writing (or publishing, for that matter), and made an uneducated remark.

The truth is, it’s HARD to get published. 85-90% of it is LUCK – the right story hitting the right market at the exact right time. Not being published isn’t a sign of failure, and it’s certainly no indication that your work isn’t good. What’s more, some writers don’t even WANT to get published. It’s not even on the agenda for them. One of my best friends has been writing short stories since grade school, and, to my knowledge, he has never once submitted one for publication. His joy comes from the writing itself. From having created something. From sharing that creation with his friends. From watching our “EWWWW!” faces and hearing our belly laughs as we read.

I wish I’d read this list a long time ago, before that encounter left me beet-faced and stammering. And, more importantly, I wish I’d read Graphospasm’s wonderful, pithy responses and more serious-toned explanations for each item. Just like getting your flu shot, you can inoculate yourself against rude (or well-meaning-but-ignorant) people by being prepared for the comments you might receive when you tell folks you’re a writer – and even having some funny answers ready!

So go check out this cringe-worthy list – plus the awesome responses the author and commenters came up with:

http://graphospasm.deviantart.com/art/10-Things-People-Say-to-Writers-but-shouldn-t-307241669

Hold your head high, be proud of your craft, and have fun building up your immunity!

-Gretchen

 

 

A Dream Come True…Times Three

blogdreampic

 

It all started with a simple dream: to complete my first novel. It took about three years – plus another two to type up the handwritten manuscript – but I did it. By the time I was finished transcribing, my heart was crowded with more dreams: write some short stories, get published digitally, get published in print, learn to write a screenplay, pen a piece of fanfiction (and have the guts to actually post it). One by one, all of these dreams came true…save #3.

I love getting published in e-zines for many reasons: your story is free for anyone to read, you can link to it on your website, and it’s just a great thing to have a sample of your work in such an easily accessible format – not to mention the awesomeness of instant reader feedback! But I must admit there’s something magical about being published in print. Just seeing your story in the pages of a book, being able to hold it in your hands and run your fingertips over the words…I wanted that. I think a lot of writers do.

And, for one reason or another, the dream just kept drifting out of reach. My very first acceptance was for a print newspaper in the city where I attended college. I was thrilled. Then it didn’t happen. No explanation, never heard from the editor again. I spent long months feeling baffled and hurt, then eventually moved on.

My next acceptance – or, as I like to call it, my first real acceptance – came from Every Day Fiction. One of the many things that drew me to them was that they were a digital market, but they also put out an annual print anthology of their best stories. Sadly, they stopped doing this shortly after I started submitting to them. As far as I know, they’ve never restarted. I think it was just too expensive. Completely understandable, but once again, I had to put the dream on hold.

Then, just last year, I got the acceptance I’d been waiting for: one of my stories had been selected for a print children’s collection. Cloud Nine, here I come…right? Wrong. In December, I received an email from the publisher that they were no longer doing multi-author children’s collections and there was no guarantee they would ever publish my story.

I started to think I might be cursed. I started to think this particular dream would have to stay just that: a dream. I started to think maybe it was time to let it go.

Thankfully, I didn’t listen to those little whispering cockroaches of doubt. I kept submitting to print markets, and finally, it paid off. A few months ago, as I shared right here on ATHF, I received notification that my story “The Greatest Gift” would be published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

But the awesomeness didn’t stop there. A few weeks after that, I got another email from Chicken Soup for the Soul: my dog story, “Legacy,” had been selected to appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

A few weeks after that, the unimaginable happened: my werewolf story, “Burn,” was accepted to appear in the August 2014 issue of Trysts of Fate, a dark paranormal romance magazine presented by Alban Lake Publishing. A print magazine.

After all those times the dream had slipped away, it seemed just too good to be true. When the hyper excitement wore off, I began to worry that maybe it was too good to be true. Both of these publishers were very reputable, but still, I’d been burned in the past – multiple times. I couldn’t truly let myself believe – not until I could hold the books in my hands. Like, for real.

In mid-July, I got my wish: the first batch of contributor’s copies arrived, and I ran my fingers over the glossy cover of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What? for the very first time. I touched my name on the page, saw my words in print at long last. Less than a week later, I was holding a contributor’s copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?, caressing the pages, smelling the crispness of fresh ink on paper. Then, about a month after that, my third baby arrived. Trysts of Fate was just as glossy as the other two, the striking cover art looking even better in person than it had on the publisher’s website. There was even something special about just knowing that they were advance copies – something most people weren’t able to read or touch just yet.

Nowadays, of course, anyone can hold my babies. Anyone can read them. The Chicken Soup books officially came out on August 19th, and can be purchased in bookstores and online. The August 2014 issue of Trysts of Fate is available in Alban Lake Publishing’s online store.

The dream has finally, officially come true. And in the process, two other dreams got fulfilled, as well: 1.) I got a non-fiction story published for the first time, and 2.) I got published in a book with one of my absolute favorite authors: Beth Cato. (Her wonderful stories “Welcome to the Navy” and “All About the Balloon” also appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?)

So, now that I’ve had a month or so to bask in the glory, what’s next?

More dreams, of course! I have so many waiting in the wings: do a non-profit book signing, run a workshop with my writing group, finish my nano novel (yeah, still working on that…I think it’s become a trilogy at this point), have one of my stories illustrated, write a TV pilot, write a spec script for Castle, write a movie script, attend the Austin Film Festival, and of course the biggie – become a published novelist!

But that’s just me – what about you? What are your writing dreams, and how are you pursuing them? Maybe the only difference between a dream and a goal is doing something to make it happen…or simply not giving up the hope that it actually could.

Whatever your dream is, don’t give up on it. Even when Fate seems to be telling you, in a firm and convincing voice, that things are simply not going to work out for you. Sometimes there’s a nice surprise – or three – waiting just around the corner. 🙂

Keep writing!

-Gretchen

New Story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

So, it finally happened. That thing I’ve been dreaming about, striving for, and working my behind off to accomplish for the last several years. A few days ago, my story, “The Greatest Gift,” was officially selected for publication in the upcoming book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

Thus, on August 19th, 2014 (that’s THIS year!), my writing will appear in print for the very first time.

Believe it or not, it’s actually hard for me to write those words. As a shy person with Asperger’s Syndrome, self-promotion is probably the most difficult aspect of writing I’ve faced so far. The way I was raised, you don’t brag about yourself and your accomplishments – you just plain don’t.

And yet, when you’re a writer, you almost kinda have to.

It’s just the way of the business. I know this. I accept it. But still I’ve continued to cling to my shyness like it’s my old, faded-blue security binky. Hardly any of my friends know that I am serious about writing. I think only two of them are aware that I’ve been published before. If you’re wondering how many of them know about this website, that number drops to one. For some reason, telling strangers about my writing life is actually easier than telling the people closest to me.

It’s not that I don’t WANT to tell my friends. I do! I fantasize about it, imagine their reactions, and feel my pulse-rate go up a few notches. But when I finally see them face-to-face, my courage always seems to scurry away like a spider trying not to get stepped on. I keep my head down, and when my friends ask what’s new in my life, I just smile and say, “Same old, same old. Nothing interesting here.”

But now, this book is coming out, and it’s a BIG deal. It’s my chance to show this really awesome publisher – and potential future ones – that I can successfully promote a book and generate some sales. With dreams of getting my novels published some day, I can’t afford to stay in my shell. I plan on attacking this challenge with the aggression of a hungry Grizzly Bear – seeking out opportunities for book signings and media coverage, using every connection I have, and yes, telling my friends and family about my story’s publication.

(Even if it means blushing furiously and ducking my head while I do it.)

Whatever results I get – positive or otherwise – you guys will be the first to know. 🙂