Before the Signing
Tip # 1: Make enlargements of your book cover at a local copy shop. You can have the shop laminate the poster and put them on a poster board. Alternatively, you can purchase spray-on adhesive, buy your own poster board, and attach the poster yourself.
Tip #2: Make a “Book Signing Kit”
Several pens. Thin tipped Sharpies work well, or any pen that writes well and won’t bleed.
A notepad to write down the spelling of people’s names.
A notebook or Mailing List signup sheet.
Sticky notes to help patrons identify books you’ve signed for multiple people.
Bookmarks, postcards, and other print material to include with each book.
Signed by author or Autographed Copy stickers.
Tip #3: Ask the bookstore if they have media resources/media kit they can provide you (for TV, radio, etc) which provides information on local media they’ve used or have contacts with. If they do, it will save you the legwork of hunting down contacts.
Tip #4: Once you have this information, call them! Time the call to within about a month of your signing. Invite them to the event. Tell them about your signing and book and request an interview. Offer to send them an ARC of your book, as well.
Tip #5: Send a press announcement to the local newspaper(s) about your signing. The bookstore may do this, as well, but best to take matters into your own hands. Remember, newspapers need a lead time of at least a week, sometimes longer. Plan accordingly.
Tip #6: Contact the local paper and suggest they do a feature article on you. Tell them you are available to be photographed at the book signing if something can’t be arranged earlier.
Tip #7: Send evites, print invitations, send out postcards, call friends and family to announce your book signing. Let your local writing chapter members know, as well.
Tip #8: Make a printable sheet of your book reviews to set out at the signing table. You can hand these to people who stop and express interest in your book.
Tip #9: Prepare to stay longer than the allotted time for the signing. You often sell more books, make more contacts, and build rapport with the booksellers after the event is officially over!
The Day of the Signing
Tip #1: Show up early. You want time to be shown the table or area where you will sign or give your talk, give an overview of your book to the store personnel, set up your materials, and take a deep breath.
Tip #2: Take a few minutes to introduce yourself to store personnel and give them an overview of your book. Also, ask to have a stack of your books displayed at the register. They redirect interested patrons back to you!
Tip #3: At the store, turn your books face out on the shelves!
Tip #4: Ask if a staff member will read an announcement about your signing. Come prepared with a brief statement written on a card for someone to read from. Ask them to repeat the announcement every half hour.
Tip #5: Greet customers! Be friendly! Smile! Walk around with your book! Shake hands!
Tip #6: Don’t just sit behind a table if you can avoid it. Many people think authors are unapproachable. If you’re standing up and smiling, you will dispel this myth, at least about yourself.
Tip #7: Hand people your book. Most people will take something handed to them, and then take another moment to look at the front, back, and flip through the pages.
Tip #8: After you’ve introduced yourself and engaged in a brief conversation, be quiet! Give the person looking at your book a few moments of silence so they can actually read the back blurbs, cover flap, or first page.
Tip #9: Pass out bookmarks, postcards, other printed materials and swag you have. For example, Tonya made fun Mardi Gras type masks to give out at her signing for Something Spooky This Way Comes, featuring her story, “Masked Souls.”
Tip #10: Bring a PR Buddy to help pimp your books! It’s often easier for someone else to engage strangers in conversation about your book. You’ll have a chance to return the favor at your friend’s book signing. (A friend or family member can do this, too.)
Tip #11: Have someone take pictures of you signing books, as well as with the store manager, customer relations manager (CRM), and other store personnel. Be holding your book, or have a book display in the background! Put them up on your website! Get their email address and send the picture to your reader. Mail a copy (framed and signed) to the store and/or manager.
Tip #12: Have someone take pictures of you and the people who buy your books. Use a Polaroid camera, if you can, or use a digital camera and offer to email the new reader the picture.
Tip #13: Have sweet treats to give away. Everyone loves candy! If you create a tie-in to your book, all the better, but individually wrapped chocolates are always a hit. These encourage people to stop at the table. They also keep kids busy while parents look at your book.
Tip #14: Pass out FREE raffle tickets and raffle off a small prize. Have customers put their names and email addresses on the back of the ticket. Now they have a chance to win whatever you’re giving away (a gift card to the book store you’re signing at is always a good choice. So are gift baskets, or other items which tie into your book) and you have collected additional email addresses for your mailing list. Raffle something off each half hour and have the winner announced over the store’s loud speaker for maximum effect.
Tip #15: Bring in visuals that relate to your book. For example, Melissa will use a decorative dress form on the signing table when promoting A Magical Dressmaking Mystery Series.
Tip #16: Before you leave, ask to sign stock. Most stores love to have signed copies of an author’s books.
Tip #17: Ask that the store place your book in the ‘recommended’ section and/or local authors section for maximum exposure. Don’t be afraid to ask for anything! The worst they can say is no, but if you never ask, it’s a guaranteed no.
Tip #18: Bring a small token gift to the store manager or whoever set up your signing, if you feel it’s appropriate. A $5 coffee card or a small box of chocolates will do the trick. Don’t give one of your promotional items!
Tip #19: After your book signing event, send a thank you note to the personnel, store manager, CRM, or whoever organized the book signing.