Friday, July 7

The Math of an Author Signing

Happy Friday! Today I’m on my way to Peoria, Illinois for the second annual Writers on the River Author Signing event! I’m ecstatic for this event for a few reasons:

1)      My writer friend, Jillian Jacobs, is one of the main organizers. She rocks, and I want to support her as much as she supports her fellow romance authors

2)      It’s a fabulous event with an incredibly responsive group of readers who attend

3)      It’s located at the River Boat Casino… so, gambling. Yay!!

The crazy thing I’ve learned in my incredibly brief experience with author signings is that they’re way more about networking with other authors and readers than they are anything else. They certainly aren’t a money-making venture except for perhaps the big-name and NYT Bestselling authors. While I may have an ego big enough to smash Tokyo, I’m still realistic enough to know that there is no way I’ll recoup my financial investment (or even come close) at such an event. (So, gambling. Yay!!)

Even if I were a big-name or NYT Bestselling author, the chances would be slim that I would break even from an author event. As an example, let’s throw out some generalized numbers. For example, a full table at a signing can cost anywhere from $100 on up. Unless it’s in an author’s back yard, overnight accommodations can cost $100+. Then there is travel and meals and the expenses for an assistant or cover model, if the author decides to bring either or both of those. The table display materials such as vertical banner, easels to showcase the books, and candy, Swag to give away, possible goodie bags for bloggers, and raffle baskets to donate for whatever great cause the event is also supporting (other than the care and feeding of romance authors ;-)

But let’s just say this is a bare-bones event which costs $100 for a table and nothing else. With a price tag of $10 per book (some authors sell for less and some do bulk price deals), I make $4 for each book I sell. Which means I would have to sell 25 books to break even. Which doesn’t seem so bad, except for the fact that the most books I’ve ever sold at an event (or in a week) is 4. So, 25 books sold is an incredibly lofty goal for me. And $100 is an incredibly unrealistic author signing expense total. I'm no math whiz, but I'd say I probably ain't ever gonna get rich from a signing event ;-)

You can well imagine how much an author invests in a signing event. And you can hopefully well imagine how rarely we recoup our expenses, much less make a profit. (In essence, it’s a form of gambling, right? So, Yay!!)

I’m not trying to rant or rave or make anyone feel bad. This is a formula I know and accept when I sign up for such an event. Like I said at the beginning: these events are mostly about networking. And there’s nothing wrong with networking with a bunch of fellow writers and romance readers, because we are an awesome, fun group! If you ever get the opportunity to attend such an event as either an author or a reader, I highly encourage it. We romance lovers rock!


  1. I hope it's a great (and profitable) weekend. These are numbers I'd often wondered about, but never wanted to ask. Next week, we want to hear about the casino! :-)

    1. Thanks! I'm sure there will be good news to report because it's a great time!

  2. have a great time at your signing!!

  3. I hope you have a great time at your signing, Ava. I've never done a "signing", but I have participated in local events with other authors where we have our books for sale. I sold very few books, but it was fun. Perhaps at an event that is dedicated to writers (not a street fair or craft sale with lots of other stuff going on) you'll have more success. Hopefully the exposure you get at such an event will result in more sales down the road. Let us know how you make out!