“But how many books will I SELL?” – Author Events Part Two


One of the first things a publisher or author will ask of any marketing plan is “what is the return on my investment going to be?” The person with the checkbook wants to know that if they write out the zeros, they can plan on a significant return on their investment.

I hate to tell give them the only answer that anyone can give… “It depends.”

Carol Zelaya, author of the Emily the Chickadee series, published by Richlee Publishing, launched her first children’s book in April 2008. She hired a fantastic PR firm to set up the launch, complete with a book signing tour covering four states that she expected would stimulate sales. Her expectations were quickly dashed.

“I mistakenly thought that once you were invited to do a book signing, you had really made it.” says Zelaya “I was so wrong. Even when the stores did tons of publicity and put up big posters, no one came.”

But are sales the only purpose of an author tour? What results and returns can authors expect when the people don’t show up at the event? Why do an author event if no one can guarantee sales?

“The thing you have to remember is the benefits outside of the event.” Says David Brody, author of several novels, including Cabal of the Westford Knight, published last February by Martin & Lawrence.

If you go into a tour looking at it strictly in terms of sales during events, it will not work, Brody says. “I may sell only 5 or 10 books at an event, but that is not the point. I have to take into consideration that the store orders the books a few weeks ahead of time, makes a display, puts up a poster; plus, the manager and employees get to know my book. At the event, who knows who will hear me and what they might tell other people? And after the signing, I will leave a few signed copies and those might get displayed for a few weeks. I can often attribute 50 or 60 sales to an event that drew only 10 sales that day. If you look at it that way, the economics make sense.”

So the question I put out there is this… “What is the REAL return on your author tour investment?” I’d love to hear from authors who have recently toured to see if they think touring is worth their time and money.


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