I typically start the conversation by encouraging them to:
- Think beyond bookstores so they plan events where their target audience is already gathered.
- Make sure their book publicity plan includes much more than book signings.
My goal is to make sure they reach as many of the right people as possible, whether it’s through book signings, local media publicity, or a virtual book tour.
After I try to get them to think about doing more than book signings to promote their books, I shift to providing advice on how to make sure they’re prepared for that book signing that they’re so excited about.
What should you include?
What about you? Is there a book signing event in your future? You want to make the most of it, regardless of the venue. With that in mind, here’s what you need in your book signing event tool kit.
- Two of your favorite pens. Don’t rely on your host to provide a pen that might flow too fast or too slow for your style. My current favorite is a fine point Sharpie , but you might like Pilot Razor Point or a BIC Cristal Stic. Make sure you have at least two of them.
- Prepared remarks. You didn’t think you were going to just sit at a table and sign books, did you? Engage your audience with a short presentation that is content-rich and visually appealing. (Why visually appealing? Because you want TV cameras to show up – next point.)
- Your best TV self. Make sure your presentation is newsworthy and work with your host to generate media attention for it – both before and after the event. For example, when Sharon Thompson did a signing for Built for Speed: The Extraordinary and Enigmatic Cheetah, she was joined by a cheetah from a nearby wildlife center (and sold 45 books). A cheetah in a bookstore – or a cheetah anywhere but a in cage – is newsworthy.
- Treats. Thank your guests with an inexpensive edible treat that’s relevant to your book. A romance author might have a bowl of conversation hearts or Hershey’s Kisses while the author of a business book could offer wrapped chocolate coins.
- A catchphrase that’s relevant to your book. Writing a short phrase before your signature helps personalize the experience for the book buyer. For my two publicity books, I write, “I’ll see you in the news!” Make yours short and relevant.
- A friend, a cash box, and receipts. If you’re handling the sales yourself, bring a cash box with change, a pad of receipts (you can buy them at any office supply store), and a friend to take the money. Working with a “sales associate” frees you up to focus on signing and smiling.
- Post-its. Name spellings aren’t as predictable as they used to be. (Just ask any Caitlin/Katelyn or Brittany/Britney.) Ask people to print the name for the book on a Post-it so you don’t make disheartening mistakes. (Your friend can handle this and attach the Post-it to the book.)
- Backup books. Bring an extra box of books from your own supply in case you sell everything from the supply ordered for the event. (I’m an optimist.)
- Business cards. Your presentation will be so impressive that some attending will invite you to speak about your book’s topic to their group. Make it easy for them to contact you by handing them your business card. Write down their contact information on the back of one of your own cards that you keep, too, so that you can follow up if you don’t hear from them.