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"The Military Guide" book signings: Lackland & Randolph BXs @ San Antonio 9 & 12 Sep
Old 09-05-2011, 01:36 PM   #1
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"The Military Guide" book signings: Lackland & Randolph BXs @ San Antonio 9 & 12 Sep

This week I'll be at USAA's Blogger Conference in San Antonio for their product & technology updates and their 9/11 commemoration ceremony. Please let me know if you have a topic or a question for them, and I'll post their answer on the blog. More on that in this thread:
USAA's invited me to San Antonio!

Much to my surprise, it looks like I'll also be doing book signings at two military exchanges. The book isn't on their shelves yet ("any day now"!) so this precipitated some fast shipping work from Impact Publications to my hotel. (Hopefully the book boxes will be waiting for me at check-in.) Then I found out that Fort Sam Houston's BX already has an author signing his book this month (what, no room for two of us?) but the BX staffs eventually negotiated a compromise.

So I'll be in the Lackland BX at 2-4 PM on Friday 9 Sep and the Randolph BX at 2-4 PM on Monday 12 Sep. Free Hawaii chocolate-covered macadamia nuts for the first 25 customers!

This is my first book signing, and I need all the practice I can get. The BXs are furnishing an air-conditioned location, a table, a few chairs, and a poster of the book cover-- but otherwise I'm pretty much on my own. I'll be charging $15 cash (tax included, exact change appreciated!) and throwing in a free personalized first-edition autograph. All royalties go to Wounded Warrior Project & Fisher House.

If you know the layout of those places then I could certainly use your advice. (For example, I'm not sure if you can get to the BX without a military ID.) And if you've done a book signing or, heck, even just seen one then I could use your advice there too. The success (or lack thereof) at these two book signings will help me decide whether to tackle the big leagues at Fort Hood, Pearl Harbor, and Schofield.

The San Antonio-area ERs are also rumored to be working on a E-R.org chapter meeting this weekend. Details to follow...
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Old 09-05-2011, 02:19 PM   #2
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Congratulations on the book. I think it will be a great resource for service members. I wish I'd had something like it during my career.
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Old 09-05-2011, 02:44 PM   #3
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Nords, here are some suggestions I found on book signings. Many of these sound like good ideas to me. Since the proceeds of your book sales are benefiting a charity, I'd have a poster and brochures about the charity at the event:

1
Contact bookstores a month prior to your desired book signing date. Don't depend on an agent or publisher to do it for you. Most stores aren't thrilled about book signings because they aren't worth the trouble in most cases. Tell them you aim to prove them wrong. Offer to bring your own copies with you, if they are reluctant to order in advance. Call a week before the signing to make sure they have their copies in if they did opt to order their own.
2
Design and distribute fliers. Also, give copies (100-200) to the bookstore. Send out a newsletter with the event advertised. Post the event on your website or blog. Ask your publisher for your book cover art on a giant poster for the day of the signing. The sign should have words indicating "Book Signing Today!" or something similar. If your publisher won't or can't, you can just have a copy store do the poster from your digital file.
3
Be prepared on the day of the book signing. Have at least 100 business cards made, with current blurbs, reviews and website addresses. Bring mints or yummy-smelling gum so you don't scare away potential readers. Don't expect the store to keep you hydrated--bring your own bottled water. Wear a nametag that indicates you are the "Author." Dress up and look your best.
4
Arrive 20 minutes early and set up. Meet every employee in the bookstore and pass out your business cards. Bring snacks or pizza for the employees, and they'll sing your praises to the customers. Hang up your poster and fliers. Try to sit as close to the front of the store as possible. Plan to spend at least four hours, possibly six.
5
Socialize with everyone who walks in the door. Let them know your genre. Have a prepared blurb for them to let them know what your book is about and what makes it great. Compare it to other well-known authors if it's similar. If they love comedies, mention some of the laugh-out-loud parts of your book.
6
Hand a copy of your book to anyone who seems remotely interested. Tell them to take a look and bring it back to the table when they're done. They'll almost always end up buying it.
7
Give out a signed business card even if the person isn't interested in your book. Ask them to pass it on to someone who may enjoy your type of writing. Ask how to spell names when you personalize the autograph. Don't assume.
8
Write an announcement for the bookstore to say over the intercom system. Keep it short, and do it yourself if they let you, every half hour.

Link: How to Do a Book Signing | eHow.com
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Old 09-05-2011, 05:50 PM   #4
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Congrats on the signings.
In my former life, (6 years ago) we owned and operated kiosks at both those locations along with several others.
A little difficult to go into here, but get there early and scout the locations, perhaps speak with some of the vendors as to where the dead/lively locations are. Clearly you want to be very close to the front door. The location can be negotiated. When we were there, no ID was required to enter the BX-only to purchase. Further, no ID was required to purchase from the vendors. Of course getting on the base without an ID is a bit more difficult.
Your situation may be different, but for us, a register of all sales was required and you could be on the hook for TX sales tax forms to file. Then there was the matter of 19-24% commission to the BX.
The hours you are working can be on the quiet side, but if Lackland has a graduation it could be crowded. It's a shame you could not score at Ft Sam. Maybe you can still call and twist their arms.
Be sure to hand out lots of flyers/ biz cards.
Good luck..If I think of anything else I'll post.
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:16 PM   #5
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Oh yeah another thing.
USAA had, and likely still has, a small shopping complex on their campus. We had been told that it was quite lucrative for operators, but we never found the time to check it out.
That may well be worth asking about as another possible source for a signing.
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:07 PM   #6
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Post this on Facebook so I can share it.
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Old 09-05-2011, 07:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Purron View Post
Nords, here are some suggestions I found on book signings:

...Dress up and look your best.
..

Decisions, decisions...

Floral or palm tree patterns on the shirt?

Slippahs or boat shoes?

Sunglasses - wear them on the top of your head or hung on a string around your neck?

Maybe a new USNA band for the ponytail?

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Old 09-05-2011, 09:51 PM   #8
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Hey Nords, if the Marlboro's are still $2.50 a carton at the Lackland BX pick me up a couple. And if you get a chance see if that coyote is still chasing the jackrabbit through the heat haze on the edge of the parade field.
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Old 09-06-2011, 12:25 AM   #9
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Congratulations on the book. I think it will be a great resource for service members. I wish I'd had something like it during my career.
Thanks, I wish I'd had one too!

Thanks for the eHow steps, Purron, that's good advice. I've heard of similar from the authors at the USS ARIZONA Memorial visitor's center.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPatrick View Post
Your situation may be different, but for us, a register of all sales was required and you could be on the hook for TX sales tax forms to file. Then there was the matter of 19-24% commission to the BX.
The hours you are working can be on the quiet side, but if Lackland has a graduation it could be crowded. It's a shame you could not score at Ft Sam. Maybe you can still call and twist their arms.
Be sure to hand out lots of flyers/ biz cards.
Good luck..If I think of anything else I'll post.
Um, yeah, AAFES feels entitled to their 12% share no matter how much of the royalties are being donated to military charities.

I twisted pretty hard on Fort Sam Houston but they apparently book 'em months in advance. I feel like dropping in on the author just to see who it is-- Stephen King?!?

These are mainly for practice and I'm hoping I sell out quickly. The lessons I learn here will come in handy at the bigger base exchanges. I have to admit that I don't enjoy the bureaucracy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPatrick View Post
Oh yeah another thing.
USAA had, and likely still has, a small shopping complex on their campus. We had been told that it was quite lucrative for operators, but we never found the time to check it out.
That may well be worth asking about as another possible source for a signing.
Thanks, I'll take a look at them. I asked about book signings during the conference but they never mentioned their own retail outlet!

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Decisions, decisions...
Floral or palm tree patterns on the shirt?
Slippahs or boat shoes?
Sunglasses - wear them on the top of your head or hung on a string around your neck?
Maybe a new USNA band for the ponytail?
Oh, these were easy:
Floral and palm tree patterns, as well as surfers.
Slippahs, brah. Definitely rubbah slippahs. I only own one pair of dress socks now, anyway!
String around the neck until indoors, then prominently displayed on the table for everyone to inquire about the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet $5 specials.
Um, no. Goody black elastic. I'm not even sure I want to bring my ringknocker on this trip, but undoubtedly I'll encounter a few skeptics around USAA who will be silenced by the credibility of the finger jewelry... which, if accompanied by $2, might even include a small cup of coffee.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JmfromTx View Post
Hey Nords, if the Marlboro's are still $2.50 a carton at the Lackland BX pick me up a couple. And if you get a chance see if that coyote is still chasing the jackrabbit through the heat haze on the edge of the parade field.
On sale, eh?

Is the coyote named Wile E.?
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Old 09-07-2011, 07:56 AM   #10
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Book signings, thats very cool Nords, congrats!
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Old 09-07-2011, 01:55 PM   #11
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If you ever make it to Barksdale AFB, I'll stop in & say hello! Big base, MANY military retirees in the area, probably a good place to stop in. lol...sounds like your'e on a world tour!
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Old 09-07-2011, 01:58 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by JmfromTx View Post
Hey Nords, if the Marlboro's are still $2.50 a carton at the Lackland BX pick me up a couple. And if you get a chance see if that coyote is still chasing the jackrabbit through the heat haze on the edge of the parade field.

When I was on active duty, that's what they sold for in the Seymour Johnson AFB, NC commissary when I was bagging groceries there. People drove in from other states just to load up their car trunks with cigarettes. Don't know what they did with them, maybe resold them (illegal), but they sure flew outta there.
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:02 AM   #13
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I'm still catching up on all the blogging, but here's the short answer:
Four+ hours of book signings to sell one (1) book.

Luckily the buyer really really needed it, and I hope he'll show up here to tell us how it's going. My four hours was worth it to help this guy, even without all the skills I've acquired from the practice time.

Lessons learned on book signings | Military Retirement & Financial Independence

Now I'm ready to tackle a signing at Pearl Harbor's Navy Exchange, although I'm going to do a month or two of publicity prep before showing up.
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:08 PM   #14
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Hi, Doug,

I am glad you had a good experience. It is really great when you connect with even one really appreciative reader.
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