Book Signing Tips

A couple of weekends ago, I had my very first book signing.

Despite rain coming down in sheets and the weather being completely nasty, the signing went really well.

I was happy, the bookstore was happy, and I had a lot of fun.

On top of all that, Captain Cavedweller’s much-beloved mother and sister drove a few hundred miles just to surprise me, eat a late lunch, then hurry back home again.

It was pretty awesome!

Since I tend to ramble and share random thoughts, I decided today I’d share what I learned from the book signing:

Communicate Before Hand – The person I worked with at the bookstore to set up the signing was wonderful. She gave me tips and hints on what had worked for authors in their store previously. She answered all my many questions and basically gave me a step-by-step run-down of how things would work. I arrived knowing pretty much how things would play out with no surprises.

Be Willing To Create Your Own Buzz – The bookstore recommended writing a press release and sending it out about the book signing. So I did. Which resulted in an appearance on one of the morning TV news shows, mentions on the local paper and inclusion in community newsletters. I also created posters for the bookstore to hang in their windows. In addition, I blogged about the book signing, created an event on Facebook and invited anyone remotely local to me to come and posted a photo of the book signing poster.

Writing Tools – Make sure you’ve got plenty of pens. I like to write with an extra-fine tip and Sharpie has some great black pens that worked well for me. If you haven’t done this before, practice signing your name. I know it sounds crazy, but do it. Sign it over and over until it looks like you want it to look.

Gather Supplies – I took a pad of post-it notes, which was handy to have to stick on books with properly spelled names, etc. I also took a clip-board with  a sign-up sheet for my book release newsletter. In addition I had business cards, rack cards and bookmarks. Of those three – the bookmarks were the most popular. I don’t think I gave out any business cards. Rack cards were handy for people in a hurry. I’d also printed some book plates and gave those to anyone who wanted them.

Pretty Things Up – From my days in direct sales doing home parties, I have a little experience in making a table look pretty. Even if the bookstore provides a tablecloth, take your own. Plan what your table is going to look like. I covered my table with a black table cloth  then added a black drape over a small riser I had off to one side. A vase of flowers sat on the riser along with my business cards. The rack cards and bookmarks sat below the riser. On the opposite side of the table, I had a wrought iron stand holding by books along with a couple copies laid flat on the table. This left the middle of the table open for me to do the signing.

Just For You – Take something that is easy for you to snack on quickly (and with no mess) along with a bottle of water.  You will get hungry and thirsty, so be prepared for that. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that makes you look like a professional (or goes with the theme of your book).

Bring a Friend – If you have someone willing to go with you, even better. There was about a 45-minute window when I really could have used another body behind the table helping talk to people and keeping things moving along smoothly. They can also help by running out to the car to get more books or giving you a restroom break.

Bring Extras– Before the signing, the bookstore let me know how many of each copy of book they wanted. I put that exact number in the box I carried into the store. I put another box in my car holding an additional amount of books, just in case. It was a good thing I did, because I had to run out and get more books.

Have a Take-Away – I come up with a tagline a few months ago “Hopeless Romantic, Sarcasm No Extra Charge” and had business cards, rack cards and bookmarks printed. It was great to have these for the book signing. The rack cards were good to give people who said they prefer to read ebooks. I gave them the rack card that lists my books and where they could find them online. These were also good to give to people who acted interested, but were in a hurry. The bookmarks were great to give to everyone. As people walked by the table, I’d ask them “would you like a bookmark” and most of them would take one. Whether they buy a book from me in the future or not, most book lovers tend to hang on to nice bookmarks.

Perfect Your Spiel – People will ask questions like “What do you write? What are your books about? What is this?” Be prepared to answer them with a 15-20 second spiel. If they are interested they’ll stick around. If not, hand them a bookmark and smile while wishing them a nice day. Practice what you want to say so it rolls smoothly off your tongue. You don’t want to hem and haw when you’re trying to convince people they need to buy your books!

Have Fun –Be yourself. Have fun. Smile. Relax. Enjoy the experience. If something doesn’t go quite like you expected, don’t sweat it. Learn from it and move forward.

Thanks to the wonderful ladies at Book & Game Co. for giving me the opportunity to do a book signing there. You were wonderful and very much appreciated!

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