How to prepare for a successful book signing

booksigningOver the past six months I have had several book signings. I love attending these events and meeting my readers, though there is usually little time to chat with them. I love the gala atmosphere, the personal contact, and the actual signing. There is nothing more thrilling than having someone tell you how your book has affected them.

Having a successful book signing requires upfront work. You can’t waltz in, set up the table, and expect to sell. You need to prep the audience, the room, and yourself.

Pre-event preparations

  1. Publicity. Once you have been contacted by the event host, determine who will be responsible for the publicity. If the hosts are providing the publicity, ask them what that includes and if you can help them fill the audience. Discuss with them what they will let you do to publicize the event. Can you invite friends and people on your email list, blog and tweet about it? Can you contact the local radio station for an interview prior to the event. In her book, The Book Tourist: Seven Steps to a Wildly Successful Book Tour, Liz Coursen details how to make the event an “Event”.
  2. Introduction. Prepare a one-page introduction. Do not count on your host to do the research for you. Additionally, by writing it yourself, you can set the tone for the event and provide the information that you want the audience to have.
  3. If you are doing a reading, select and read the passages out loud. Practice, and then practice some more.
  4. Check out the room prior to the event. Will you have room for a table. Is there sufficient lighting? Is there an audio system. If your voice does not carry, take along a battery-powered amplifier. Don’t forget an extension and, if possible, a cordless mic.
  5. Some stores sell the books while you sign the purchased books. At other events, you bring the books and sell them yourself. In this case, ask the host if there will be someone available to watch the table while you speak and to help you with the book selling. If not, consider having an associate with you; it is very difficult to sell the books and sign them at the same time; people do not want to wait for hours in line.
  6. If you are doing your own selling, make sure you have the correct change. If required, have an event price that includes taxes. For example, $15.00 tax included. Then make sure you have enough $5.00 bills to make change. Note: some towns require county and state permits.
  7. Find out before the event if you need a permit to sell the books and, if appropriate, what the tax rate is. Print up receipts before the event and hand them out as the books are purchased. Use these receipts to tally the amount of books sold and the amount of taxes you need to submit.
  8. Print business cards, handouts, bookmarks, fliers as appropriate. Talk with the host to determine how many people are expected. Make sure you have enough promotional material for everyone.
  9. Order books. Find out if the books can be shipped to the event venue or if you need to bring them with you.
  10. Find out if the host will supply the table, table cover, and chair. If not, bring your own.
  11. If you accept credit cards, make sure the device is ready and working before you start selling.

Preparing yourself for the event

  1. If you are afraid of public speaking, join Toastmasters to help you overcome your fear. Look online to find a Toastmaster club near you.
  2. For many of your readers, this is the first time they meet you. Make a good impression. Some authors dress in character; if so, make sure the outfit is appropriate for the event.
  3. Good grooming is important. “You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort and money into training, grooming, and encouraging your greatest asset.” ~ Tom Hopkins
  4. Prepare a short autograph. If you make it too long, it takes too much time to write. See How to Autograph Books. Consider pre-signing some books.
  5. Buy a hand cart.
  6. Smile. Enjoy yourself.

Event checklist

This is my checklist. Use it as a start for yours.

  • Books
    • Book display
    • Book for display, clearly identified as display sample
  • Promotional material
    • Business cards and business card holder
    • Bookmarks
    • Slanted sign holders (to hold 8″ x 10″ sheet of paper for blurb, sale prices, customer quotations, etc.)
    • Banner and hook, display stand
  • Handcart
  • Cash box and money to make change (see tip six above)
  • Pens, glue stick, scissors, erasers, tissue, tape, packing tape, magic markers
  • Tablecloth, table, chair
  • Audio amplifier, mic, and extension cord
  • Cooler with water, cup
  • Plastic bags
  • If accepting credit cards: credit card sign, imprinter and paper or cube and smartphone
  • Notebook
  • Paper towels
  • Optional: candy and candy jar
  • If outdoors, sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, weights for windy location

Tell me about your book signings, What went right, what didn’t. What would you do differently? Please Comment.

About The Author

Jane V. Blanchard

Adventurer and Author, I was born in Hartford Connecticut and now live in Sarasota, Florida.