Your first book signing is a major milestone in your journey as an author. It’s a chance for you to reach your readers on a personal level, to become more than just a name on a book cover. But how do you approach a bookstore to set up your event? In this article, AuthorHouse offers five tips for arranging a book signing at an independent bookstore.

1. Find the right person at the bookstore to talk to. Call the store or talk to employees on your next visit and find out the name and email address of the person who handles signings and promotions. If it’s a small, privately-owned store, it might be the person behind the register.

2. Send an email first. Once you have the name and email address of your contact, send that person an email. An email is generally preferred over a phone call, as the former allows the recipient to reply at his/ her convenience.

3. Present your marketing plan and tell the store how you plan to make the signing a success. Getting people to attend bookstore events is far from easy, and smaller stores can’t handle marketing themselves (aside from perhaps a poster in their window). The store owner will want to know what you intend to do to get the word out.

4. Think like a store owner. Ask yourself the questions that the owner will undoubtedly be asking: Is this signing going to draw people into my store? How many books do we think we can sell? How do we benefit? Prepare your answers and practice your sales pitch before you go to the store; you never know when the owner might be available, and you might have to give your pitch at a moment’s notice.

5. Make sure you know how the store can order your book. The store will want to know how they can purchases copies of your book. Be prepared to provide the contact information for your distributor.

Look at your book signing as a partnership between you and the store, with potential benefits for both of you. You want them to stock your book, and they want people to buy your book. If your first is successful, you’re more likely to be invited for a second!