The Power of the Signed Copy

Frontispiece of a signed copy of "Monkey Puzzle" by Julia Donaldson & Axel SchefflerA simple, easy and free way for you to add value to copies of your books is to offer to sign them. Readers and book-buyers everywhere value signed copies more highly, whether they are buying a book for themselves or as a gift for someone else.

Therefore it makes sense to take every opportunity you can to add value to your books by signing them, whether it’s by organising a booksigning event at a bookshop or  event or by providing a stack of pre-signed ones to your local stockist.

Offering to sign a copy can persuade a dithering shopper to buy your book. It can also encourage multiple purchases, with shoppers buying a copy for themselves and more copies for friends and relations, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

You don’t even need to be in the presence of the potential customer to offer this service. If you sell your books directly from your website, add a line on your orders page offering a personal signature for no extra cost. If you’re selling via a bookshop remote from you but local to the customer, you could offer to send a bookplate to go in their copy (much cheaper to post than an actual book).

Make It Personal

Best of all is to add a personal dedication in the presence of the purchaser. My small daughter and I were charmed recently at the Bath Children’s Literature Festival where we witnessed Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler doing a slick double act of booksigning after they’d given a public talk. Not only did they add a personal dedication to the name requested – Axel even added an extra illustration (the butterfly at the bottom of the page pictured above).

Their team of publicists ran a smooth operation. As we waited in the queue for the signing table, an assistant worked the line with a pad of post-it notes, asking us to spell the name of the person to whom our books should be dedicated. They wrote the specified name on the post-it and stuck it in the front of the book, where Julia and Axel would see it straight away. This enabled them to get the spelling right every time, avoiding wasting any books, and also bypassed the need for them to preface every conversation with “And who is this for please?” Instead, they got to chat with their fans about more interesting things, to the delight of us all. Despite having queued for some time to get their books signed, I’m sure that all their customers went home very happy indeed – and very well-disposed to buying more of Donaldson & Scheffler’s books and attending more of their public events. Result!

If this hugely popular author and illustrator can go to this much trouble, it’s really worth your while to try to do so too!

Coming soon: a new post on how to set up booksigning events in Waterstones and other bookshops. Follow this blog to make sure you don’t miss out! More top tips on book promotion are available in my new book promotion handbook for authors, Sell Your Books!

Children's Laureate Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

A masterclass in booksigning from Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

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