Having had three very successful booksignings since my book, THE GHOST CHRONICLES, came out in mid-November, I thought I would share some tips on how you can make your own signings as successful and stress-free as possible. I have signed at three different types of places – the B&B that is the setting for my book, a public library, and a Barnes & Noble – but I did the same things for each and had tremendous results. This post was long, so I had broken it down into three parts – PRE-SIGNING, AT-THE-SIGNING, and POST-SIGNING. In my last post which you can read here, Part One, I covered things to do PRE-SIGNING. In this post, I’ll be tackling what to bring and what to do AT-THE-SIGNING, and then the essential followup things to do POST-SIGNING.
First, let’s talk about what you’ll need to bring to the signing. (Technically, you’ll need to gather all this PRE-SIGNING, but yesterday’s post would have been ginormous so I’ve lumped it in here with what you’ll need AT-THE-SIGNING.) I’ve culled this advice from many seasoned authors and now keep all these items in a box ready to go. (You can add items to the box that you’ll need specifically for school visits or other presentations too.) Here is a list of what I bring:
- Mints or TicTacs
- Cough drops (for dry throat)
- Your book! (marked with excerpts to be read)
- A printed copy of your short bio
- Any other written materials you might need or want to read from
- Business cards (some writers/authors/readers may want to connect)
- Candy/candy dish
- Stickers (autographed copy, local author, etc)
- Hand lotion/sanitizer
- Lip balm
- Large rubber bands (for rolling up posters)
- Tablecloth (mine is B&N green, LOL)
- Silver or black Sharpee marker (for signing bookmarks, other swag)
- Postcards & all other swag items you have
- Tacks/tape/clips to hang posters or materials
- Display signs (I have three 8×12 clear plastic displays – one with my pic and bio, so anyone who misses that info in the beginning can just come up and read it, one with the back cover blurb of my book so it can be easily read in case they missed that, and one with the full spread of my cover juxtaposed against a panoramic picture of the Angel of the Sea so folks can easily recognize that my cover is a likeness of that B&B with a caption that explains how my story is inspired by the legend of a haunting there. That, of course, is specific to my book, but think outside the box for any eye-catching displays you might be able to create.)
- Wipeoff marker & display board – I have an 18”x 24” foam-backed laminated display board of my cover. I bring the marker in case I want to write anything in the two inch white border around the display.
- Clipboard with newsletter signup sheet
- Extra cash (if you’re at a venue doing hand sales)
- iPad adapter/flashdrive/laptop/cords (if you’re giving a presentation)
- Post It Notes (so your assistant can write down names so you don’t have to ask each person how they spell their name)
- Your assistant (Son, daughter, boyfriend, husband, friend, agent, editor, publicity person, whoever)
On that last point, try not to stuff your assistant into the box. Just kidding! But it is important to have someone at your side while you’re trying to sign. You can’t always rely on the venue to have staff available for this purpose. And your assistant can be very important. They can be the one writing up the post-it notes with the names, reminding people to sign up for your newsletter, putting stickers on books after you’ve signed them, creating orderly lines, and making change if you’re handselling. You will be too busy signing books and talking to readers! It can be more overwhelming than you think to take care of so many little things at once. So many people were coming up to me eager to talk (mostly about their personal ghost stories which were fascinating) that I honestly think I forgot to put stickers on half of the books at my Barnes & Noble signing. I also got too busy to remind half of the people to sign up for my newsletter. I’m sure if I had pointed out the clipboard they would’ve done so, but it just slipped my mind while I was busy signing and chatting. Once my son started helping, things got much easier.
And the night I signed at the library for more than 100 people, it was even more important to get help. In the first few minutes, people lined up on both the left and right sides of my table, so crowd control became an issue. Once a friend stepped in and organized the line, again, things went more smoothly.
I would also stress having a game plan for what you’re going to say to your audience before you begin signing. Are you going to read your bio, or will someone from the store? Decide this ahead of time. Are you going to say a little about your book, read the back cover blurb, explain some of your research, or just get right into reading a short excerpt? This is all up to you, just remember to first thank your audience for coming, be mindful of time (you don’t want to talk so long that you lose your audience), and do a short Q&A at the end so your audience can interact with you. Many people came up to me and said they had never met an author. At that moment, believe it or not, in some people’s eyes you’re a rock star and they’re tickled to connect. The more thought and preparation you can put in ahead of time, the less stressed you’ll be at this moment and the more you can enjoy it! And speaking of enjoying, be sure to have your assistant or someone take pictures of your special moment! Take pictures of the crowd. Take pictures with your fans. You want to be able to document how well your event went so you can talk it up later. At my first ever signing at the Angel of the Sea the owner snapped this photo before the crowd of people came, but then we completely forgot to take any more pictures!
Lastly, there are just a few things you’ll need to do POST-SIGNING:
- Remember to sign remaining stock if you are leaving it at the bookstore
- If you signed at a library, sign and donate a copy or two
- Thank the venue that hosted your signing – personal, handwritten notes are best
- Create a bragbook – remember those pictures your trusty assistant took? Print them out and put them in a little flipbook. I have one that holds thirty-six 4×6 pictures. Use your bragbook to approach the next bookstore when setting up other booksignings, particularly at indie stores. It’s the easiest way of saying, “Look, here’s how well my last signings went, now when can I sign here?” Of course, you’re a savvy author so you’ll do it more subtly, but you get the idea 😉
- Write a blogpost with pictures about how it all went and share tips or stories with your author friends. Or include pictures in your latest newsletter. Better yet, send a good photo in to Publishers Weekly, firstname.lastname@example.org and see if they put you in the PW Daily announcement. I completely forgot to do this and wish I had!
You better believe I’ll remember the next time, which by the way will be on March 5th 1-3 PM at the Barnes & Noble at 425 Marketplace Blvd, Hamilton, NJ 08691. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Friends of the Hamilton Twp Library if you use Bookfair ID#11808474. And online orders for anything you buy at BN.com between 3/5/16 and 3/10/16 will also count towards the fundraiser if you use if you use Bookfair ID#11808474. That includes books, music, toys, movies, gifts and more! The official Bookfair flyer can be found here: B&N flyer and more info about the event can be found here: B&N Event
So, any other tips for booksignings I missed? Anyone have any funny or embarrassing incidents at their booksignings they want to share? Any amazingly good things that happened at a signing?