My friend JA Konrath has been blogging from the road, keeping a running tally of all the "drive-by" signings he’s doing on his book tour.
A "drive-by" signing means you just show up at a store unannounced and unscheduled and sign whatever stock they have on hand as opposed to a formal signing, which is a scheduled event that a bookstore has arranged (and which generally means they will have lots of your books, if not customers, on hand). His book tour is built around the formal signings, mostly at independant and mystery bookstores, set up by his publisher…the drive-bys are something he’s doing on the side, taking the initiative to get as much bang for the publisher’s promotional buck as he can. A typical day of drive-bys for Joe has gone like this:
Got into San Diego around noon, picked up the rental car, checked into the slum that is the Westgate Hotel, and started the drive-bys.
Baja Books, signed 3 paperbacks.
B. Dalton on Horton, signed 2 hardcovers, 3 paperbacks.
Barnes & Noble on Hazard, signed 4 hardcovers, 6 paperbacks.
Barnes & Noble on Grossmont, signed 4 hardcovers, 8 paperbacks, sold 1.
Bookstar on Rosecrans, signed 2 hardcovers, 2 paperbacks.
Borders on Camino del Rio, signed 2 hardcovers, 6 paperbacks, sold 1.
Borders on 6th, signed 2 hardcvoers, 6 paperbacks.
Waldenbooks on Friars, signed 6 hardcovers, 6 paperbacks.
I got stuck in some serious rush hour traffic, and it took 90 minutes
to get to my signing that night, at Mysterious Galaxy.
That’s lot of time, effort, and expense to sign 22 hardcovers and 40 paperbacks. But I understand what’s motivating him. Up until now, I’ve done the same thing. Now, on the eve of two of my new books being released, I’m wondering if the drive-bys really make a difference and if there aren’t better, and more productive ways, to promote my book. Your thoughts?