Author’s Journey. Coming Soon!

Hey guys,

So a NEW category shall be in effect after Summer Break from July 1st 2016.

I will be documenting my Journey to becoming an Author covering facets from the writing process, event planning and bits and bobs in between.

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It really all started this time last year: Sunday 17th May 2015 with a simple ebook! A year later I am working on my fifth publication, have organized and hosted my own poetry performances plus hosted a group one. On top of that I’ve run multiple websites and social platforms plus my online shops! Who would’ve thought all this would manifest in less than a year. The question is not how she did it but what horrid people were holding her back? I’ve done it alone and I may as well document the process to the rest of the world…..

None of it was planned, all of it was made up as I went along. That I promise you! I literally had NO friends, no connections. This has been a solo journey. It’s also been a horrific time in a lot of way and nobody should have to forge this path, The Writer’s Path which is one of the toughest career paths¬†especially when one has been suffering as I have…. It is a cruel, cruel world and you are a fool, fool to not make everything happen all at once. Things are changing. The amount of jobs and self-taught practices I’ve had to achieve¬†is sickening and the short time frame I’ve done it in is enough to make someone take a gun to their head. It’s not easy but it has to be worth it. There’s nothing to catch me anymore, but I don’t care I simply dare.

 

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How to organize a Successful Book-Signing (even if you have no experience!)

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Event organizing essentially requires an the execution of the essentials: (1) books/product availability; (2) suitable space to host the occasion and (3) promotion to guarantee attendance of the event. Then it is simply a matter of organization and deadlines. Always be methodical, ask for help if need be and delegate. Good Luck!

Before the Event:

  1. Contact the Publisher of the Author you want a signing with. Get the exact date and times confirmed a.s.a.p. usually subject to Publicist’s approval. Get the Publicist’s contact number.
  2. Inform all staff and line manager’s of event plans.
  3. Promote, promote, promote! Contact head office and the marketing team/ P.O.S people and ensure you have the appropriate banners ordered specify event details and photo of the Author’s latest book on it etc. Contact the publisher’s again to see if they have promotional material and relevant P.O.S to use in store and in the bookshop window.
  4. Promote some more! Email any outside groups that may be interested in attending event. In this instance I was the account sales manager and often ordered books for nearby schools. I created a tailored and personalized email to each nursery and primary school inviting them to the event. I attached the ready made fliers and asked if they could be posted on the school’s bulletin board and or P.T.A meeting. (Top Tip! Usually only 2% of people will respond to promotional emails- so don’t fret if people don’t email back. They’ve got the message that is all that matters.)
  5. Order stock! Include the latest releases and selected back-list. Highlight that it is event stock.
  6. Don’t hesitate to use delegation to get things done!
  7. Plan out the actual day of the signing in advance, how many staff you need on the day. Make sure every facet of the event is covered. The devil is in the detail. The components of the event are: bulk amounts of the author’s books (get the right amount), space for the signing and logistics. Ensure the publisher is informed of travel requirements whether it be parking spaces, distance from train station etc. Make sure¬†there will be plenty of cash for said date. Tills must be filled with maximum cash. Have the event banner and table plus belt barriers available at hand in the stock room.
  8. Actively engage and inform customers of the event and hand out relevant promotional material in the run up to the event. Try to get sales of the author’s books before the signing. Highlight the importance of customers purchasing stock before the event in case they sell out on the day. This will prevent chaos on the day of the signing.
  9. Get active on social media, highlight the event on any given media platform that you already use. #Hastagawaaaay Upload event listings on website and local newspapers and/or radio.
  10. Have a special thank you card ready for the Author and their Publicist. Gifts are optional!

On the Day of the Event

  1. Have spare sharpie pens and water at hand on the day.
  2. Have the author’s books in prominent places, near the front of store and also near the signing table. Make the displays creative and eye-catching.
  3. Have someone on stand-by topping up the display shelves so customers can readily purchase books.
  4. Ensure customers are aware of the layout of the signing and where it will be held etc.
  5. Have post-it notes and sharpies ready so customers can have their books dedicated to someone.
  6. Whilst customers are queuing speak with them share their excitement and check they have purchased the book(s) they want signed. If customer’s want their books dedicated attach post-it notes on the page the author is to sign on. Text must be in CAPITAL LETTER’S to prevent confusion and error. Check that the queue is kept in an orderly fashion.
  7. Adjust the room temperature if need be. Ambiance is everything.
  8. The Author may arrive bang on the start time so they must be greeted and escorted over to their signing table swiftly. Subsequently invite the first customer over when the signing is ready to commence. The Publicist will be standing next to the Author, try to have a bookseller nearby as well.
  9. Check that customer’s are aware when the event is ending, usually there will be a natural dwindling down. Event running times are sometimes a little extended depending on how the queue is.
  10.  If you want extra store stock signed have these open on the page to be signed stacked up together kept in the stock room.They can be signed after event.

After the signing:

  1. Thank the customers for attending!
  2. Huddle around the author and make sure they have a breather and a drink.
  3. Enjoy the moment.
  4. Get the store stock signed.
  5. Give the Thank you cards and gifts. (Personally I had some nibbles ready in the staff room- should the Author wish to stay and rest for a moment.)

Visual Merchandising

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There was a designated spot in the window for the Picture book signing, the poster’s were made by Head Office.

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At the Heart of the Children’s department was a noticeboard that promoted the event and the latest release at the time: “Superworm” which was illustrated by Axel Scheffler. In store we ensured to have promotional material to highlight the beloved Gruffalo, Donaldson’s back-list of books and related products such as these cute plush toys hanging on the board!

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The actual signing took place (where I’m standing) ¬†in the kids department next to the fittingly age-related under 7’s¬†area¬†where picture books also live.

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This is the display I made. It includes Donaldson’s most popular picture books plus other editions her beloved character’s are found in such as baby board books, puzzles and stationary. This is a unique selling point because it provide’s customers with a broader range of products from mini board books for babies in buggies, to pencil cases for school kids and non-book items and collectibles for fans young and old!

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The front of store/F.O.S. is prime retail space for booksellers so more of Julia’s back-list was on display including her early reader’s selection of books.

Top Visual Merchandising Tips:

  1. Put display’s in prime retail spots such as front of shop.
  2. Make the display creative and eye-catching.
  3. Incorporate a broad range of products i.e. books in various editions and non-books such as stationary or toys.
  4. Keep it age or theme appropriate.
  5. Mention your displays to customer’s. If they are specifically asking for Julia Donaldson picture books show them a relevant display, let them be immersed in the product choices. Invite them to pick up the books so they know the display is not just to look at, they can help themselves to the items.

The Waterstones Hereford Julia Donaldson Signing 27th September 2012

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It’s been three years since Hereford Watertsones bookshop had the Queen of Picture Books grace her presence in this most quiet and small city. Three years ago I was the multi-tasking account sales manager, event-planning¬†bookseller running the children’s department. I also had the privilege of hosting my first ever book-signing for the one and only Julia Donaldson.

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It was a chaotic time, it was back to school season and a lot was going on. I had newly taken on the kids department and was learning the ropes. It was all perfect timing!100_0438A  100_0439A

The day after I got confirmation that Donaldson could come to Hereford we had a visit from both a Divisional and Regional Manager and you can imagine how impressive it was to hear that not I been with the company for almost half a decade, but in less than three months into my new Kids Bookseller role I had a Top-Selling Children’s Author come to our store for a signing. It was nothing short of Catherine Vaughan’s Magic & Manifesting + Talent….

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It was a lot of hard work but I learned a lot on the go and it was an experience to encapsulate what I do best: organization and magic! People wander how someone with no event-planning experience can accomplish such a huge task. I just respond saying I learned everything I needed to know about events management from reality television. And it’s true! Thank you Kimora Lee Simmon’s: Life in The Fab Lane TV show.100_0444A¬† 100_0445A¬† 100_0447A¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†100_0451A

This is me in the Kid’s department.

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The 1st customer who queued up was a Super Fan! She had nail art of The Gruffalo character’s on her hands- Wow! ¬† ¬†100_0457A¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† This is Julia signing my hardback copy of “Superworm.”100_0467A

Here is my specially dedicated copy of “Superworm.” I was so delighted that Julia was happy with the running of the event!

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Ignore em’, trash em’. Rolling with Rowling…

“You’ll never make money writing children’s book,” said an Authors agent. Then you’re faced with 12 rejections of your manuscript. What now? What next?

Why bother?

What now? Hand your book proposal to another Publisher. What next? Get your book published. Why bother? Because you have worked hard to craft and polish your children’s book manuscript, you feel compelled to get the story published, and why not just go for it? Hmmm 12 publisher rejections is a lot. Maybe you won’t make any money with this book, maybe the children’s genre is not a safe bet?

It’ll never succeed, this was all a wasted effort. I’ll stop. That’s it, enough is enough. Maybe the agent and publishers are right. My book is pointless, it won’t sell.

What if J.K Rowling had ended her thought trail on the above sentiments? 12 manuscript rejections, the utterance of children’s book not making money by her own literary agent. This all happened to the author of the multi-million selling Harry Potter books. What if she never got past no, never got past the disbelief, past the disappointments? She’d be just like the rest of us. Nothing¬†wrong with that. But think of all that she would have missed out on: the film and franchise of her beloved¬†Harry and becoming the World’s 1st Billionaire Author!¬†She still is like the rest of us: enjoying family, taking the bus with the same insecurities and same desire for happiness in life.

So sometimes we have to ignore the critics say eff-U to those lacking faith in your genuine brilliance and trash the insecurities to do what you were born to do, even if it just means getting it outta your system and completing a goal.

Sometimes so called experts o the highly experienced are wrong. Sometimes you have to get their opposing views outta your head because they are just plain wrong and they are more than opposing you they are oppressing you. True leadership and brilliance is rare and sometimes a Ph.D is meaningless other times not. It’s a constant weighing up and making black and white what we do and what we hear.

First analyse and rigorously dissect the good, bad and ugly of your work or goals. If it is truly good enough go for it. Focus on it:

Follow

One

Course

Until

Successful

And then you meet the gatekeepers they say no. Plough through or find another passageway to get into. The CEO, the project manager or the publisher says no. Is it true what they are saying? Sometimes it might not be. You cannot disregard specialist’s. But other times you may have to. That’s the hard part, having to efficiently identify that distinction. Sadly all the titles, qualificatiosn and experience can be futile, and their opinion is simply an abyss into Hell if you follow their ‘advice’.

Ignore them and you may be taking the Stairway to Heaven or Highway to Hell. That’s a distinction to figure out later when you hit the Big Time!

Copyright © 2015 by Catherine Vaughan All rights reserved. This article or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the blogger except for the use of brief quotations in non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.