My First Book Signing

A few Saturdays ago, I had my first book signing at a local bookstore. A podcast I previously heard had advised that authors at a signing event should not stand next to their books. People will more likely browse the book without the author there. This did not help.

Whether I stood by my book or not didn’t seem to matter. Yet, I still had a good time. I was outside with great weather on a Halloween afternoon and next door to the liquor store. My creativity was on overload with all the people I could write about who passed by. And I sold two books (yeah!).*

Despite few sales, I felt encouraged by the book signing. It is easy to feel negative about such an experience, but this book process (writing, publishing, marketing) is long. Just like it took me a long time to write something that people would want to read; it will take time (I hope not as long) for me to sell what I wrote.

My encouragement came from just being there with my book. I think all authors should have book signings. Even if there are no local bookstores, local shops would enjoy having an author out front. Just don’t expect to sell many books.

Instead, enjoy the experience and meet people. Book signings may not generate many sales, but maybe that podcast advice could work for someone else.

For me, the next time I have a book signing I’ll use a special pen to sign books. It won’t help sell anything, but it will make me feel as if I may have a chance.

* Note: I won’t mention they were sympathy sales to people I knew.

To Be (the Grant Writer), or Not To Be: That is the Question

I was involved in a nonprofit who could not decide whether they wanted a grant writer or not. The staff were capable of writing grants, but they were already understaffed. I helped the nonprofit out with the indecision by not deciding if I wanted to be their grant writer or not.

The first thing nonprofit leadership and a grant writer should do is decide whether they want each other or not.

Grants can be written by someone outside of the nonprofit such as a volunteer or contractor. Or someone on the nonprofit staff. Or a combination of these. While a nonprofit might want grants, they do not necessarily need a grant writer.

Or maybe a nonprofit does not want grants. Writing grants can be a lot of work and some nonprofits can survive on only donations.* These are the decisions the nonprofit leadership should make before diving into the grant world. Once there, they should decide if they want a grant writer. Also, the grant writer should decide if they want to work with that nonprofit.

My relationship with the nonprofit was undefined and unending. As a grant writer, I should have better defined my relationship and planned for an ending to that relationship since the nonprofit did not do it.

In the end, I am not their grant writer which is okay with me.

* Note: I suggest nonprofits have a diverse stream of income that includes donations, fund raising events, and grants.

The Written Word is Read by Someone

Writing is the act of communicating thoughts into words of meaning. When written, someone somewhere will read the words.

To some writers, this could be scary. Even if the reader is only the writer, such as in a diary. They may hold back from writing what they wanted to write. I do not know of any solution other than to push back the scariness by taking one step at a time and try not to fall. If you tumble down the stairs, start climbing again. The stairs aren’t going anywhere.

For other writers it is exciting that an unknown number of people will read what they thought. Whereas before the writer holds back, the excited writer holds nothing back. Sometimes, not everything needs to be published.

I find it important to understand that a writer, like myself, can be scared of their words and at other times excited. Maybe more of one than the other. In either case, I will write and develop my thoughts into words of meaning. Then they can be read by someone somewhere.

Getting to Know People

Funding for nonprofits is more than grants and donations. Nonprofit management and staff should get involved in events and groups in the community even if it does not involve money. Here are some ideas.

    • Expand on business relationships such as getting involved in associations and clubs. The nonprofit can show businesses what benefit they can provide that helps with profitability. Also, businesses can provide feedback, positive and negative, to help the nonprofit with their mission. Of this, negative feedback is more important. Many problems can be solved easily instead of having them linger. Relationships can be much better after.
    • Attend community events that do not include raising money. This provides “face-time” where people in the community can meet the people in the nonprofit and learn about what is going on to include successes and failures. This can lead to more volunteers.
    • Create a relationship with other nonprofits, particularly if they are not in the same mission area (prevents competition). This can be no more than regular meetings once a month, maybe even for a coffee outside of the offices. I found that few nonprofits talk to one another. Forming a group will include sharing information about resources, problems, and solutions.
    • To be successful, it is critical that every nonprofit meet with, invite over, and talk to all elected officials. Not only locally, but also State elected officials and maybe Federal, too. But, never go political or choose political parties. Politics are fleeting and will always hurt the nonprofit.

The point of this blog post is to meet people and join their groups without asking for money. The more people who know about the nonprofit, its good and bad, successes and failures (hopefully there are more good and success stories), the more opportunities that can become available.