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Author Must Haves for a #BookSigning

by on July 22, 2016

When I signed on for my first book signing back in 2014, I was confidant that I would sit at a table alone and sullen because no one would know who I was. I’d published 5 books by that time, but being published with a small publishing house meant that my readership was limited. However, I had a great friend who committed to being my roomie (Thank you Tracey Reid) and a couple of readers who promised they would stop by my table no matter what at the signing (Thank you Pearls InnerGoddess, April Cleaver, Sheri Vidal, and Trish Bowers) and the neurotic, obsessive enthusiasm of a new author.

I read through the event schedule at least fifty times. Wrote out lists of what to pack, and what to pre-buy. I ordered swag with my logo on it, and print books that sparkled like the fairies themselves had created them out of magic dust….er…wait…where was I going with this?

Oh yes, the packing. You see, I learned quickly that there are certain things every author MUST have on hand at their book signings. It doesn’t matter if the signing is big or small, if the attendees know you ahead of time, or don’t. What matters is how you present yourself, and whether or not you’ll be remembered. Mind you, you don’t want to be the one author everyone remembers because she was begging for $1 bills to make change, or scotch tape to hang a piece of paper with her name sharpied on it.

No, you want to be known as a professional who has their shit together. Even if you’re half and apple core over the turnips mound cray-cray.

Packing signing 1.jpgHere’s my go to list:

A table cover – some events provide these, but the ones they provide are generally all white or all black. I bring along a solid red one, and a scarf with lips printed on it just to jazz it up. It helps make your table stand out when readers scan the room.

Signage – You can bring a massive banner that stands up behind you and dominates the room, BUT if you’re flying, that can be tricky to pack. Instead go for a smaller table top banner, or better yet a table runner with your logo printed on it like these.

Pens and markers – Do not assume that your one pretty purple roller-ball gel pen that you adore, will sign anything and everything because it won’t. Readers will present a variety of items to you for signing, and you must be prepared. I bring Sharpies (pink, purple, black, and silver because it can write on dark colored fabric) as well as my pretty purple roller-ball pen, and a plan old ball point pen.

Scissors, Tape, Sticky Notes – Trust me, they’ll come in handy more than you might think.

Stickers – This is event specific. A lot of events ask you to sticker any books you sell to readers so that they can verify the readers paid for them before they leave. I use the same labels I had made up with my website and PO Box on them because they’re easy and I know they stay stuck once I stick them. You can also ordered “Autograph Stickers.”

bookmarksPostcards & Bookmarks – While many people claim they don’t like paper swag, this is the item that readers pick up most often from my table. I’ve learned that if I put a free book code, or even just the info for where to download my steals & deals, they’re more likely to keep them. You can design your own, or hire a graphic artist to create a design for you. Make them generic enough you’ll be able to use them at multiple events.

Business Cards – To me this is common sense. As an author, you’re the CEO of your company. You should NEVER be without business cards. Ever. Like carry those buggers in your purse to 7-11 and beyond.

Square or other card reader – I prefer the Square, which is free, but I know a lot of people use various devices. These plug right into the ear bud jack on your smart phone, and are incredibly handy. My sales more than doubled when I began accepting card payments.

Back up phone battery – Not a phone charger that must be plugged in because the likelihood of you being seated next to an outlet is zero to none. You need a back up power source you can just plug into that smart phone to keep your business running through the whole signing no matter how many cards you take!12928266_970025373033249_687472065485071968_n

BOOKS – Of course! You need to have your books, and don’t forget the book stand. Walmart has them for 88 cents in the picture frame department. Invest in several, and stand your titles up to catch the readers eye when they walk by.

CAM00545Swag – This is more of a personal preference. I like to have logoed items on my table that readers can have for free. Generally some candy, pens, buttons, stickers, even coin purses and keychains. You’ll notice an increase in the number of people interested in stopping by your table when you have something free.

Your elevator speech – You can’t pack this, but it’s definitely necessary. When that reader or blogger pauses by your table to ooh and aah over your adorable buttons and stickers, you want to be able to hook them quickly and sell them a book. Practice in the mirror giving a quick one or two sentence speech that will snare someone’s attention. You’ll put it to good use.

Your professionalism – Again, this is something you can’t pack, but it’s crucial. Even if you’ve only published one book – Hell, even if you haven’t published yet – when you attend an event, you MUST be on your best behavior. This doesn’t mean don’t have fun, it just means that the world is full of camera’s and Instagram and YouTube are forever. No matter what you think of the event, the attendee’s, the temperature of the room, or the service in the venue, DO NOT let it be what people remember you for. Present your best self so that readers fall in love with you for you, and you’ll do great!

Tell me in the comments what’s on your MUST HAVE list, and I hope I see you at the next book event!  – Lori



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