Book Signing: Newbie Prep

There is something thrilling, terrifying and somewhat off-putting about a debut author’s debut book signing. At least for this author.
Thrilling because it’s a dream come true. Terrifying because it’s an unknown. And off-putting because I’d rather be writing. Terror and off-putting feelings should be shoved aside – buzz-kills are NOT permitted on such a red letter day.

I’d attended a few book signings first hand and read of my Sisters in Crime experiences, and realized that advance preparation would be my salve. To prepare for my home town bookstore appearance, I:

– Contacted the local newspaper to request an interview. To my delight, a wonderful, nearly full page piece appeared days before my event and proved the biggest factor in promoting my appearance;
– Provided a press release to the bookstore who sent out an email to their customer list. This mailing was the second successful promo tactic, as those who could not attend ordered copies. I was asked to leave five signed copies at the store;
– Sent 100-200 postcards/letters to local residents announcing the signing. The physical result was negligible. However, this may have stimulated sales (I hope); and
– Memorized a short presentation about how I came to write my novel in case an impromptu speech was in order.

I brought along treats (my heroine snacks on mini jelly donuts in my novel), bookmarks, and postcards. After a few deep breathing exercises, a reality check that involved a lot of pinching and cheek-slapping (my own thankfully), I was ready to roll.

Wisdom dictates early arrival, say twenty to thirty minutes before showtime. Channeling Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, mathematics, strength, war strategy, and arts & crafts (I’d say most of my bases were covered here), I arrived nearly an hour before start-time. With all that talent channeled, I had work to do. With staff help, I placed myself just outside the front store entry. A spot that faced the only major street in the little village rural town where I lived.

And little by little, people came, ate donuts and bought books. I had a ball!

– Ask your venue if snacks are okay
– Check with your post office for the most efficient, economical way to send postcards announcing your book and the signing
– Smile
– Move around. If there was down time around my table, I strolled, bookmarks in hand, and stopped to talk to passers-by, handed out bookmarks, waved to cars, and visited the nearby Farmers’ Market.
– Above all else, have fun! It’s the law of attraction. Who doesn’t want to be around someone who is thoroughly enjoying herself?

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Susabelle Kelmer
8 years ago

Very helpful. I just did my first book signing last week, and I didn’t sell anything, but I also didn’t know what I was doing! I was one of many who were signing that day, though, and it was also Halloween. But these are some great tips, and I’m going to keep them handy for the next time!

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