A few weeks ago I attended the Northwest Author Fair in Lincoln City, OR at Bob's Beach Books. Every year, authors from all over Oregon gather at the annual event. This year, 35 authors were in attendance, with many others on waiting lists. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't with us. Coastal towns are known as the place to go when the weather inland gets too hot. That weekend, the weather was scorching, so everyone flocked to the ocean. The problem with that was traffic! A trip that usually took an hour, now took two or three hours. So, attendance was lower than usual at this event, or so I was told. This was my first time attending the event. This was, in fact, my first time attending any sort of book signing like this. I was nervous and excited all at once! The books had been ordered. The posters were ready. I even had a bowl of candy - the good stuff- Dove Chocolates! The event started at 10:30 officially, but at 10:15 I already had my first sale. She just walked right up, read the poster, picked up my book and said, "I'll take this." It was so fast it actually caught me off guard at first!
The entire event was four hours, and while business was much slower than in previous years I was told, I still learned a lot. Here are my tips to make the most of your book signing event:
Do have a good display! There should always be at least a copy of your book upright so people can see it while walking by. Posters, bookmarks, candy, tablecloths, props, etc. also help make a nice display. Cluttered or overcrowded displays tend to get passed up.
Your book cover definitely sells your book at signings! It should convey what your book is about, and look professional. I saw some truly beautiful covers at the signing that definitely drew my eye.
Do have an answer when someone asks, "What is your book about?"
Example: "My book is a paranormal adventure story, with vampires and werewolves in the mix." or "My book is a collection of short stories about different women each searching for their Mr. Right." Short and sweet, but you get the idea.
Don't be too vague. Example: "It's an autobiography." or "It's a romance novel." or "It's a book of short stories." These are too vague and the person you're talking to will probably wander away.
Be friendly, SMILE and chat with people. Don't be pushy and try to actively "sell" your book. Be genuine.
Have fun! If you're not having fun, people will pick up on that and they'll avoid you. If you're at a large book signing, talk with the other authors. This is a great time to network, or just share tips.
Do follow the rules set in place by the event coordinator, and feel free to ask plenty of questions. They be able to give you an idea of how many books to bring, which is vital. You don't want too many or too few.
Have a great signing pen! This may seem a little silly, but I spent a lot of time trying pens out to find one I liked. There are tons of options out there, but the first thing I look for is a pen with a fast dry time. I want to immediately be able to touch the paper and it not smudge. This is number one for me. Other things to consider are: archival ink, color, flow, thickness. if it bleeds through paper, etc.
Figure out what you're going to write in the book when you do sign it! Have a few phrases. Some people draw pictures, which works if your book is a cartoon or something funny. Others just sign "Nice to meet you" or "Thanks" or "Enjoy". Think of something that suits your book, then come up with a couple variations. And make sure your autograph is unique but legible.
There are a ton of things to consider, but in the end the book signings are about connecting with people. They have either already read your book and love it, in which case they are there to meet the person behind the book, or they have yet to experience the masterpiece you've spent hours of your blood, sweat and tears creating. Either way, engage and interact with them. If you have any tips to add, please feel free to list them in the comments! Thanks for reading! :)