Selling Digital Only

15 Mar

Back in 2005, I had the opportunity to have two of my favorite authors’ sign the books I’d purchased. To be able to stand close to Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Nora Roberts was a dream come true for me. I can picture the scene in my mind’s eye to this day.

Since then, I’ve watched writer friends get “The Call” and then I joined the ranks of the published, too. Being able to hold a book in your hand and actually sign it for a reader is something a writer hopes for, even if my reader isn’t as smitten as I was when I approached Phillips and Roberts.

To be able to hold a hand is not as easy as it once was. The midlist is vanishing and it is harder to sell the manuscript you’d worked so hard to produce.  I have been able to have both print and e-book publications with a small press. In this economy, mixed with the demand for e-books, a smaller publishing house may only produce e-books. Further, a larger house may want to turn your manuscript into an e-book only format as well.

Yes, e-books are convenient and the future of publishing, but technology has a hard time satisfying the public’s desire to personally connect with the author. So, the question is: Can a digital only author participate at a book signing and/or connect with their readers?

First of all, there are a few ways to get yourself noticed. For example, sign bookmarks, or rack cards, and leave them at the book store to pass out (you’ll need to check with the book store’s policy). Or, pass them out anywhere you can.

Authors can do readings and Q&A sessions, which can be even more valuable than a book signing. Here you can meet the author, state your appreciation for their book, shake their hand, and take their picture.

When there is a group book signing, think about printing, then displaying, a booklet with a chapter included, or with photos and an interview with the author about how he/she wrote the book, etc. When shoppers pass by your display, you will have something to give them.

I have heard of people getting the back of their e-readers, or iPads signed by an author with Sharpies, and some say this will become more popular. How about signing associated merchandise? See what Vista Print, or your printing house, has to offer.

We should never underestimate technology. I imagine with it will come more and more marketing ideas and a way to connect. Perhaps you’ve heard of companies such as Autography and Kindlegraph that have come up with ways for authors to digitally sign electronic books. In the case of Autography, they’ve actually come up with a way to add a page to your digital book that contains the author’s inscription.

The creator of Kindlegraph, Evan Jacobs, says, “…the connection between authors and readers is the important thing and the signed book is simply a memento of that connection. The move toward digital books doesn’t mean that these connections will no longer exist or no longer be important. On the contrary, I created Kindlegraph as an acknowledgment of the power of personal connections even while people become more anonymous because of technology.”

Here are a few thoughts about selling e-books at a book signing:

If you don’t already know, check to see if your publisher has an author discount, and download them into a CD to sell.

 If there’s an internet connection, bring your laptop and sell to those through your Amazon (Smashwords, B&N, etc.) account. Remember, you would have to have an account at each site.
Follow the author’s link to the book then gift the book to the buyer’s email address. You’d receive a royalty for the sale. This idea is from author, Delle Jacobs.

I’ve heard of a credit card scanner that attaches to your phone. I’m not techno savvy with phones these days, so you’ll need to research to see if you can use PayPal with a phone.

Do you value an author signed book?


Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Blogs, Boise, books, Idaho, publishing, readers, writers, writing


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18 responses to “Selling Digital Only

  1. Liz Flaherty

    March 15, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    I don’t value autographed books the way I should, though I certainly value having met and talked to different authors, and the truth is I always feel goofy signing my own books. However, I do love giving signed books (by other peopkle, I mean, not me) as gifts to non-writers.

    • Mary Vine

      March 15, 2012 at 12:33 PM

      Thanks for commenting, Liz. I like your idea of giving books, signed by other authors, as gifts.

  2. johannaharness

    March 15, 2012 at 5:26 AM

    I value signed books more as a memento of having met the author. It’s always more valuable to me if the author has written my name. Book plates and pre-signed books are less exciting to me.

    I do think there may be other kinds of mementos for readers of ebooks (and library books, for that matter). Signed postcards or bookmarks maybe–but the reader’s name is important.

    I’ve been tweeting my #fridayreads the last few weeks and just about every week I receive a note from the author. When I was reading DAVID, Mary Hoffman tweeted a note of appreciation. When I was reading CHARLES AND EMMA, Deborah Heiligman tweeted that I’d made her day. These individual electronic notes of thanks mean more to me than an anonymously signed book.

    • Mary Vine

      March 15, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      Now that you mention it, Johanna, I see the value of using the person’s name when signing. I do always ask if the reader wants me to write their name in the book and they almost always say yes. Or, the name of their friend or relative they are gifting it to.

  3. Janis McCurry

    March 15, 2012 at 7:17 AM

    I agree with Johanna about the memory of it. The actual signature on the book doesn’t mean as much to me as meeting the author, thanking her/him for the great read, and even exchanging pleasantries. If there was an author meet-and-greet with no signing, I would enjoy that just as much.

    • Mary Vine

      March 15, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      Thinking back now, I think it was more important for me to meet Phillips and Roberts than to get their signature. Thanks, Janis.

  4. ramblingsfromtheleft

    March 15, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    Mary, as we go forward into this “brave new world” we will all have to adjust to changing technology. I don’t believe it will tip over to the techie side of it for the remainder of my generation. It will, however, be a major part of publising for my grandchildren’s generation. Since so many writers today might live long enough to experience these changes, some of the ideas you have mentioned are very valid. Still, I must agree that the book signings I have attended were a thrill because of meeting and hearing one of my favorite writers. I have ordered signed books from B&N when a writer is doing a local signing I can’t get to. While it’s a nice things to have, what I really missed was meeting them up-close-and personal 🙂

    • Mary Vine

      March 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      Thanks for commenting, Florence. I didn’t know you could order signed books from B&N when a writer is doing a local signing and you can’t attend. Good information.

  5. Peggy Staggs

    March 15, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    I’m sure if there is a will someone will find a way. I like the idea of the CD’s. I’m with Janis, I like meeting the author. The signature isn’t that important.

    • Mary Vine

      March 15, 2012 at 12:51 PM

      Peggy, I guess they could serve as a momento of the moment, as Meredith stated. But, I’d have to agree, the meeting is the important thing.

  6. Liz Fredericks

    March 15, 2012 at 8:58 AM

    This is a great perspective, Mary. I hadn’t thought about the implications for that personal connection. Thanks –

  7. Meredith Allen Conner

    March 15, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    I love going to book signings and having my favorite author sign a book for me. I love having that interaction and later I can look at the signature and remember that moment.

    • Mary Vine

      March 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      That’s true Meredith, the signature is a momento of the meeting. Nice thought.

  8. ValRoberts

    March 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    Mary, have you heard of Romance Trading Cards?

    A few writers started making them a couple of years ago to have something to sign for e-books. They’re similar to baseball trading cards, but with the book cover and other details. Apparently they’re becoming rather popular, although I haven’t seen one. I’m looking forward to starting a collection at the RWA National Convention this year.

    • Mary Vine

      March 15, 2012 at 12:48 PM

      I think I did hear the term, but didn’t know what they were. Yes, bring some back so I can see them :-).
      Thanks for commenting, Val.

  9. Clarissa Southwick

    March 17, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    Mary, It was a thrill to see you at your signing in the Nampa bookstore. May you have many more whatever format you choose to publish.


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