I talked to a number of bookstore owners and learned that among the most common complaints bookstore people had about signings were authors who were snotty, distant, or too demanding.
I resolved to be none of those things.
I also decided to create an air of professionalism and consistency for my signings and I took on as much of the responsibility for them as possible. I did that by bringing along my own table and chair and signage. Essentially, the only things the bookstores needed to provide was a space for my table and chair.
I created "The Lary Crews Portable Signing Kit."
To each signing, I brought the following:
- my own folding card table with a navy blue table cloth that reached the ground,
- my own padded chair,
- my own “book dump” which held 45 books and my photo on the front,
- a couple of pens, business cards, a camera, copies of my press clippings [believe it or not, fans were always asking to read them],
- A small lidded, insulated cup for iced water,
- white wire book brackets to hold up one copy of each book on my table, and - finally -
- my mascot, a tiny Los Angeles Public Library bear that I got for contributing to their Save The Books campaign.
From that poster I made a more permanent one which read, "Here Today." [My friend, Frank Roderus, said I should have written in "Gone Tomorrow."]
That poster traveled with me and went in the window of the store during my appearance.
Another selling tool I created, borrowed from my friends in the romance field, was 3,000 full-color postcards of the Kill Cue cover with information about the upcoming books and a photo of me on the reverse side. I handed them out as bookmarks and mailed them to the media and put them on counters.
The best promotional pieces turned out to be …
• the postcards
• the signing posters
• and small gold labels I had made which read 'Autographed Copy By Lary Crews.' [I got those from Walter Drake, the mail order place in Denver; 200 of them sell for 9 bucks these days.]
As I set up the signings, I assured each bookseller that all they needed to do was order books and help me publicize the signing. (Today, of course, we have to take care of supplying the books, ourselves.)
Usually, the signings were four hours long, from 11 am to 3 pm. I also did several days of two signings a day in cities farther from our home. Those signings were each 2 hours long. I also tried to get press coverage as well.
In addition to nearly every independent bookstore in the area, I appeared at Waldenbooks and BDaltons in malls and I even did signings in the Reader's Market sections of five K-Marts. I was a “blue light” special.