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Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, June 2, 2014

14 Tips to Surviving Your Book Signing

One way to promote your book is through book signings. These events can range from solo events where you are the only person signing, to group events with several other authors who write the same genre, to convention-sized book signings. I recently attended the Romantic Times Convention (RT) and here are some tips I learned to help make your first or tenth signing go smoothly.

1. Talk to other authors who have attended the book signing in the past (if you’re attending a convention/conference that includes a book signing) so you know what to expect.

2. Make sure you know ahead of time what is expected of you. If your book is only available as an ebook, and they expect you to sell copies of it at the conference, make sure you know this ahead of time so that you can figure out how to do this.

3. If you are traditionally published, check with your publisher about your options when dealing with #2. Some publishers reach out to their authors to find out who is going to the major conferences. In the case of my publisher, they create postcards for our books that we can sign.

4. Bring swag but don’t go overboard. Swag can get expensive and it doesn’t guarantee returns on your investment. It often ends up in the garbage. Pens with your author tagline and website are less likely to be thrown away. Who doesn’t need pens?

5. Bring plenty of pens to sign with, just in case. Sharpies are great for signing swag and come in many different colors, including metallic.

6. If you use your real name, you don’t want to use the same signature you use to sign important documents.  This is for security reasons.

7. Bring candy to entice readers to stay long enough for you to chat with them. The other benefit of the candy is it will provide you the necessary energy to survive the long book signing session, and you will be popular with the authors near you when you share it.

8. Find out ahead of time how much room you will be allotted at your table. I can guarantee it won’t be as much as you need, especially if you have print copies of your books. And please be considerate of your fellow authors sitting next to you. They have the same amount of space as you and would rather you didn’t inch into it and make yourself at home.

9. Shower and use deodorant/antiperspirant before the signing. Yes, you and your fellow signing authors will be that close to each other. The room will get HOT, which doesn’t make for a pleasant time for the authors next to you if you ignore personal hygiene.

10. Chat and joke around with the authors sitting next to you. I did this at RT. Not only did I have a great time, we came off as approachable to people walking past. Meanwhile, the authors across from us pretty much ignored each other the entire time. Those authors looked bored and readers tended to avoid them. I swear at one point I thought one of them was going to fall asleep.

11. Hit a craft store and find creative ways to display your swag so that it isn’t just lying on the table where no one can see it as they walk past.

12. Be prepared for changes in the guidelines. A number of authors had brought portable display stands to show pictures of their books. These tall displays were placed behind the table but were visible to those walking past. Unfortunately the fire marshal deemed them unsafe for the signing (because they posed a hazard if we should have to evacuate), and they had to be taken down. Make sure you have a plan B in case something like this happens to you. Word to the wise, complaining at the injustice of it all is not considered plan B.

13. If you anticipate you’ll be busy with a long line of eager readers, see if you can have someone assist you. This might be as simple as having the person find the title page for you to sign while you’re signing the book for the person before that. This will save time.

14. SMILE and be friendly.

Have you been to a book signing as an author or reader? Do you have any other tips to add?

Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL writes New Adult novels. In her spare time, she’s a photographer and can be found at her blog/website.  She is represented by Marisa Corvisiero, and finds it weird talking about herself in third person. Her debut New Adult contemporary romance TELL ME WHEN (Carina Press, HQN) is now available. LET ME KNOW (Carina Press) will be available Sept 1st, 2014.


Leandra Wallace said...

Thanks for the tips! I always like reading posts like these, b/c you never know- I might need them one day! =) Glad you had a great time!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

You're right, Leandra! I stocked piled tons of useful advice well before I had became published.

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Great article, thank you!

One quick note to children's authors: some kids (and adults) will gravitate to candy, but occasionally, health-conscious parents/caregivers will be vexed at you for putting it in play (and perhaps triggering a meltdown when they say "no").

Julie Musil said...

Be friendly and bring candy. Sounds like a good motto for life :)

Thanks for the great tips

Traci Kenworth said...

Congrats first off, Stina!! Thank you for the lovely tips. I've saved them for future use.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Cynthia, that sounds like something my kids would do. A non-candy treat is a better idea for kids' event.