5 Tips for Preparing the Perfect Book Signing


Imbedded in the dream of being an author is the vision of attending book signings. Whether you are hopeful for a line around the block or just a chance to have your family, friends, and mentors gather in one room to listen to your journey, it is both a rewarding and humbling experience. For some authors a signing turns into a great way to connect with readers, hear their questions and build a fan base, for others it can be a crush to the ego when the only people in attendance are the store owner and a few random shoppers. First off, don’t be discouraged. I once attended a book signing in downtown Boston for an extremely successful, New York Times Bestselling author and there were about 4 people in attendance, one of them being a man who simply wanted to sit down and take a nap. But the author did something wonderful, she spoke to us as if we were her friends, she was funny, told great stories and had all four of us (the man eventually woke up) laughing and eager to buy her books. By taking the time to connect with us, she built lifelong fans. That being said, book signings are not easy endeavors. They require tenacity and a thick skin. Here are a few tips for preparing your book signings:

1) Plan

Where do you want to sign? Is there a local, independent bookstore in your home town? Do you have a busy Barnes & Noble nearby? Are you planning on traveling to visit friends or for business and have extra time on your hands? Map out a plan for where you would like to set-up some signings. Keep in mind that all of these are not going to come to fruition. It can be very difficult and time-consuming to get a bookstore to approve a signing because it is not as simple as just arriving with a pen in hand. The store has to work within its own calendar of events, it has to promote the event and determine how many books will be needed. They are also going to want to know if the book is available through standard distribution channels and whether or not unsold books can be returned.

2) Pitch 

Reach out to the media that is based near your signing location. Find the local papers, magazines and radio stations that cater to that particular area and let them know (well in advance) that you will be making an appearance. You are not necessarily inviting them to come to your event (if they do, super!) but it is a way of letting them know that you will be in the neighborhood on a specific date and there is a local “newsworthy” angle that may be of interest to them. Reach out to the media outlets in the closest major city, as well. Most newspapers (small and large) have an events section. At the very least, you can get your signing or appearance mentioned in their calendar section. Talk to the special events coordinator at the bookstore where you will be signing. Most likely they reach out to the local media on behalf of the bookstore, but it’s always good to coordinate and get a feeling for what kind of outreach they will do.

3) Prepare

What are you going to do once you get to your signing? Will you be doing a reading? A question and answer? A small speech about the writing process or your journey to becoming a published author? You don’t have to have everything scripted but it is a good idea to have a general idea of what you would like to do and say once you get to your event. It is also smart to get there early. It will give you a good feel for the venue and prevent any chance of being late to your own signing. You don’t want to leave your fans waiting.

4) Polite

Send a thank you card. Call the bookseller after the event to thank them for hosting or even send a small gift basket. These are all nice ways to endear yourself to a local bookseller, someone who most certainly could have a hand in helping to build your audience.

5) Publicize 

Take pictures at your event and share them on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Write a blog post about your event. Show future venues and media outlets that you are comfortable with public events so that they will keep you in mind. It will also show your readers and fans that you are a real live person and not just a name on a book. You could also have a friend take some video of you speaking or reading and put that on your website.

Book tours are not for everyone but if it is something that you have dreamed of doing or something that your publisher suggests you do, then these are just a few ways to make sure you cover all of your bases and do it right. There is no way to guarantee that an author event goes smoothly and there is no such thing as a “perfect” book signing but being prepared is a good way to banish some of those jitters and get you and your book out into the world.

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