I just finished my first in person book signing event at my local Starbucks (if you count 40 minutes away as “local” lol) and it was awesome.
Allow me to break down what you need to know in order to do one too:
1.) Starbucks is awesome and really likes hosting events, especially if they don’t get an overwhelming number of events on a regular basis.
Did I mention how excited they were to have me? The manager was really excited on the phone. The employees were really excited when I arrived and chatted with them. Everyone was really excited.
2.) You’re pretty much on your own. They don’t market for you.
Be prepared to create your own flyers which you can hang on their community board. Don’t worry, we’ll get to how to market this momentarily.
3.) Be prepared to do your own thing.
You’re on your own, remember? They let you do your own thing. Ask for a table and they’ll grab you a table. They’ll offer you a comped drink. They’ll be super nice…but you are in charge of you and they are in charge of making drinks.
The manager set me up in a corner and let me be in complete control of how I handled things. They never interfered with what I was doing. They let me talk to people, socialize, take photos, stand around and talk to people who came to see me. And they made my guests drinks.
4.) They’re super flexible on time and will not hesitate to get you in quickly.
I assumed it would take time to set up an event. They invited me to set up shop a few days from when I called. I actually had to push it off so I’d have enough time to get a new order of books in.
They were all about working with my schedule and even suggested a busy night to host it on. They’re were totally chill about everything.
Also, they will let you stay for as long as you want. I was there for an hour and a half and they were sad to see me go.
5.) They will invite you back.
Remember how they were excited to see me and sad to see me tear my table down? They like having people come do events. When people hold events, more customers show up to see said events. That’s more business for them and gives them something unique to do.
If they don’t ask you back, ask what other events they hold there, then mention you’d love to come back.
Now let’s take a look at what you can do to make this signing successfully happen:
1.) Call Starbucks, ask to speak to the general manager, tell them you’d like to set up a book signing. Have your calendar ready because they’ll move fast.
2.) Get copies of your books to sell. Have a cash box with change and get a credit card reader (I use Square; yes it costs money to buy, but it’s totally worth it.)
3.) Get a banner. It’s an investment, but the more visible you are at events, the more likely you are to be noticed. (Fear not, I’m going to break down what a good banner looks like in an upcoming post)
4.) Have table decor. This should include a stand for your book, something to display your bookmarks, a sign up sheet for your newsletter, and anything relevant to selling your book. Make sure your display is attractive and not strictly about selling.
Pro Tip: Make sure it’s easy to set up and tear down. I was completely set up within 5-6 minutes and tore down even faster. You WILL be in front of people setting up and struggling to set things up will not give off a professional air.
Pro Tip 2: Do not clutter your table. Extra things go on tables behind you, on the floor behind you, under the table if you have a table cloth, etc. Do not leave your drink on the table. People will be taking photos, you want to look professional and have as tidy a table as possible.
5.) Take promo posters in and hang it on their community board a week or two before the event.
6.) Create a Facebook event about it. Invite local friends. Also take to twitter and instagram with promo posts and use local hashtags for people to find. (Bonus tip: get on social media when you are not talking to potential customers and use the local hashtags so locals can see it’s happening live right then!)
7.) Once you arrive, find the manager and introduce yourself. Be overly kind to all of the employees. They are watching you.
8.) Have someone there to handle the money for you. Your focus should be on talking to people and signing books. Also have someone there to handle photos/video/live video for you.
9.) Have something to do in the down time. People are watching how you handle yourself and if you just stare at people walking in, that won’t encourage them to talk to you. Engage with people, don’t ever corner them into buying your book when they do come up to you. Give them options and give them the out for “buying it later” so they aren’t pressured. Even if they don’t want your book, they’ll remember how you weren’t pushy and might consider looking at your next book if this wasn’t a fit for them.
Pro Tip: Be kind and thank everyone. They took the time to notice you, even if they didn’t buy. People will remember how you treated them. Don’t pressure them or make them feel bad. The kinder you are, the more they will support you. And maybe they don’t want your book, but someone they know might and they’ll leave and tell that person about you. Think about it.
10.) Social media it up. In the down time get on Instagram Stories. Do Facebook live broadcasts. Remember, a lot of your fans aren’t local but still want to be there, so if you make them feel like they experienced it too through Instagram stories and Facebook live, you’ve opened up your in person only book event to your entire fandom.
11.) When you are ready to leave, have a conversation with the manger. Thank them for hosting you, make sure you tell them how much you appreciate their help, say lovely things about their employees. If you know of something coming up that you’d like to do, bring it up (like a future signing or writing event!) The goal is to have a conversation with them and really thank them for their time. Also follow up by tagging their store on Instagram (did you know individual stores have their own IG accounts? Who knew!)
I loved having my signing at Starbucks because it was a unique crowd seeing a unique event that wouldn’t ordinarily be found there.
The people were friendly, the patrons were interested, and I had the opportunity to be in a place other authors don’t normally work in which made it even more unique in my marketing. It was a win/win situation for all involved.
Pro Tip: Starbucks will try to comp you a drink. That’s incredibly kind of them, but they are doing you a favor to let you do a signing there. Pay them. They will respect you for it and it will make them want to have you back even more.
So are you ready to dive in and set up your own Starbucks book signing? Tell me in the comments if you’re going to give your local store a call!