The big day is soon to commence. You’ve followed the details from the last post that dealt with approaching a store, professionalism and planning ahead. The day has been booked and now we need to go over some of the do’s and don’ts at a book signing. A lot of the time you see two extremes when it comes to authors in book signings: At one end of the spectrum they are sitting and not engaging with people that pass by. On the other end they are too aggressive and nag potential customers. The best is to be coherent of your surroundings, be polite and be excited about your work.

The Do’s and Don’ts when preparing for your signing

See a pattern with these marketing-related blog posts? Prepare in advance and be professional, these are you two biggest keys to success when marketing your book. You must make sure you have everything you need in order to have the book signing do well. If it does, the book store is going to want you to come back.

DO have copies of your book ready

If you are from a smaller publisher or self-published, you are going to want to order copies from the distributor. If you are with big house printing – chances are a lot of the items in this post will be covered for you. Having books in storage is very important as an author. Sometimes events pop up or someone you know wants to buy your book – always have books in storage.
Regarding your book signing, it can be hard to know how many books to have available. If you have never done a signing or promoted a book before, order 100 and see how quickly you can move those copies. From there re-adjust your ordering frequency and quantities.

DO promoting for the signing

Advertise the book signing to your fans through your newsletter, your website and your social media. If you are feeling very ambitious, get posters and postcards ready and pass them to the store you are doing the signing at. If you have extras – put them up around town and in cafes and other local stores.
It can be challenging to dictate how effective promoting your book is prior to the event, especially with physical posters. Your energy is better spent online to your fans that will be more likely to come out to the signing.

DON’T wait to the last minute

Order everything you need as soon as the book signing is confirmed to make sure you have the supplies required. The books may have to be shipped to you which has its own set of complications, so order a month or two ahead of time.

The Do’s and Don’ts at a Book Signing

The day of your signing is finally here. You’ve followed the Do’s and Don’ts leading up to the event – today is the big day! Below are some ideas on what to have for the signing and behavior when you are at the event.

DO have an attractive table

What encompasses an attractive table? Some ideas are:

  • A table cloth to hide underneath the table – you will probably store your books there. People don’t need to see that. Keep their focus on your books.
  • Signage to tell people what your table is about. People aren’t going to know why you are at a table with a bunch of books. Signage can be a roll up banner, banner flags at the front of the table or a poster on an easel.
  • Book Stands. They are very critical because they allow the book(s) to stand upright, facing people. If the books are all flat on the table, no one is going to be able to see the cover – and they do judge books by the cover. You only really need one book stand per book.
  • An author bio plaque. If you have a bio or other credentials worth mentioning, having a plaque describing who you are gives people something else to look at.

DO have takeaways/freebies

Having smaller items at your book signing can help hook people in to come learn about your book. This can be as simple as a bowl of candy or it could be postcards, button pins, or another small item that you are willing to give away to potential buyers.

DO have a newsletter signup sheet

This could be an actual form on your table your you can dress it up a bit by making it a dropbox contest to give people a chance to win a short story or a copy of your book. Gathering emails is a very handy tool down the road when you want to tell people about your next book or event.

DO talk to people

This should be a given, but a lot of the time authors will wait for people to talk to them first. If you see people walking by your table and they slow down to see what it is all about – say hello! If it scares them off they weren’t that interested.

DON’T arrive late

This should be a no brainer, you should be treating this as you would with any other meeting – arrive early. Think about how long it will take you to set up? It takes time for the managers to get the required supplies too (often they supply the table and chair). Don’t show up right at the time the signing starts, that is go time, even if there are no lineups to come meet you.

DON’T hide behind the table

The last thing you want to do is sit behind the table, slouched or keeping your head down. This doesn’t make you look approachable and it doesn’t make people want to talk to you. It is okay to sit from time to time, these signings can be long days. When you do, make sure you are alert and attentive to those around you, sit up straight!

DON’T wing your pitch

This should be another no brainer, but you never know. Practice telling your story in an engaging and short method and keep it to no more than thirty seconds. This will help you when talking to people about your book so you don’t fumble around with your words.

Practice makes perfect

The above Do’s and Don’ts will help steer you in the right direction. Ultimately it is practice that will make you do well over time. Think about how your signing goes, and you’ll quite quickly think about what you could have done better. How could you get more people to come to your table? Was the location/time wrong? Was the signage not prominent?
If you’ve had experiences with book signings or have specific questions share in the comments.


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Konn Lavery

About Konn Lavery

Konn Lavery is a Canadian author whose work has been recognized by Edmonton’s top five bestseller charts and by reviewers such as Readers’ Favorite, and Literary Titan.

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