View Full Version : Book Signing Suggestions: Got Any?

06-29-2004, 05:28 AM
I'm doing another workshop and book signing on July 15th at Barnes & Noble in Huntington Station (anyone who lives on Long Island, come join me!). The last one I did was well-attended (maybe 40 people), but I want to rock the house this time. I'd like to use this thread as a spot where people can add their tips for having a successful signing. I'll start...

-POSTERS! The stores often provide little 8 1/2" by 11" ones, but they're barely noticeable. I make my own from oaktag or foam board and ask to put them right at the front door.

-ANNOUNCEMENTS: ask the people at the desk to announce your arrival, then to make announcements every 15 minutes that you're in the store and signing. Prepare a little announcement for them to read about who you are and what your book is about.

-PRESS RELEASES: send 'em to all local media (radio, TV, newspapers, websites).

-PHOTOS: I read this tip from another author yesterday and thought it was very smart-- have a digital camera on hand and offer to snap shots of you with everyone in attendance. Then tell them they can "pick up" their photos on your website (give a special link for photos). Works for two reasons: 1. Makes other store patrons think you must be some famous author who everyone wants pictures with, and 2. Draws these fans to your site.

More? Want to give your tips or expand on mine?

06-29-2004, 07:38 PM
Chatting with folks who came to my last signing, the one thing that stood out is that they were all regulars at that B&N. They ignore posters and announcements because of the constant exposure to them. The posters and announcements are for the casual visitors.

What had caught their eye was a display of the book on a table with a small poster that had been set up about 2 weeks before the event. Now keep in mind that my cover was bright orange, so a stack of the book sticks out anywhere in the store

I've had better luck at smaller events than at B&N; "Local library presentation by local author" type events. 45 minutes of PowerPoint, 15 of Q&A and then sign until they throw you out. Local Friends group buys the books and you just sit there and be charming.

Dave Goudsward
Lake Worth, FL
America's Stonehenge - The Mystery Hill Story (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0828320748/drg-20/002-6272276-8284855)

06-30-2004, 01:02 AM
I remember Uncle Jim making a suggestion about chocolate. A bowl of Hershey kisses on your table.

Betty W01
06-30-2004, 01:31 AM
Business cards imprinted with your book cover and contact info are a good idea, too (ask Peter Bowerman for a sample card from his The Well-Fed Writer as an example of perfection...) Thses can also be stuck on magnetic BC-sized backings (purchased in bulk from Staples or Office Depot or wherever) for a freebie that will walk away and end up on someone's frig or file cabinet, holding up a take-out menu and drawing attention to your book at the same time.

A basket of cool pens that you use, one at a time, to sign a book and then present to the purchaser?

Set up a drawing box and let people put their names and addresses in the pot for a free autographed copy of your book or (if you think that might detrack from sales) something else that would increase traffic at your table. something flashy and "I've-got-to-go-see-what's-going-on-over-there". One writer I know used three Beany Babies, when they were so hot. Her book was a book of cat poetry, and the BB were also cats.

I'm not sure how you'd apply this next idea, but people who've figured it out say it works well - put out a tray of refreshments that somehow relate. The aforementioned author also used plates of cat-shaped cookies at another signing. A cookbook author used samples of recipes in the book. Maybe you could name a cookie "Freelancer's Frenzy"?

Make one or more of your popular articles into handouts to give away. (I love the bio fishing one, myself...) and put your contact info, web site, book titles and so on on the back or at the bottom. Or put 2-3 into pamphlet form and affor it as an extra to each purchaser who has you sign a book. You could also include a drawing box for people interested in the pamphlet, but too broke to buy the book, as a way of increasing traffic and adding to your mailing list for next time.

So many ideas for someone who's only ever been part of one signing... <sigh> Someday, I hope to need them all.

07-06-2004, 06:53 AM
I give away postcards that have a picture of my book's cover (plus the website) on the front.

I also have people register for some kind of giveaway, which allows me to add their names to my database for upcoming announcements, events, etc.

William Blake Bradbury
07-06-2004, 08:47 AM
People who have actually published a book have A) No reason to bitch and B) No reason to be on this site.

aka eraser
07-06-2004, 09:46 AM
LOL William. I hope you're kidding. But in case you're not....

A) Publishing a book, or 11 books, doesn't mean life is suddenly all soft-focus pastels, heavenly choirs and fluttering dollar bills.

b) If accomplished writers didn't post here, those who are still aspiring would have a much more difficult path to navigate.

There are a lot of writing-related boards out here in online land populated by the never-beens and never-wills. I think most posters here are glad this isn't one of them.

William Blake Bradbury
07-06-2004, 06:53 PM
you dumb butt.

William Blake Bradbury
07-06-2004, 06:55 PM
Please tell me you're not a fan of the "Mod Squad" movie.:snoopy

P.P.S. I'm in love with Snoopy.

P.P.P.S. Dumb butt.:snoopy

aka eraser
07-07-2004, 12:04 AM
Nope, haven't seen the movie.

Given what you've said about your proclivities on another thread I'll assume your love of Snoopy is platonic. I like him.

Sticks n' stones. :b

William Blake Bradbury
07-07-2004, 11:26 AM



Snoopy's have been deleted to save bandwidth. EZboard will have to start charging for more hardware if we keep that up.

07-07-2004, 09:41 PM
WBB, what is your problem?

07-08-2004, 11:19 AM
Well, back to the booksigning subject. . . nothing I have experience with, but I've noticed a few times in my small town the local banks let authors set up in their little entry way. . .they are separate from the customers doing business inside, but every person going into or out of the bank passes the author.

People love free stuff. . .I'm wondering if handing out bookmarks as far as they go might work as an opener to begin talking with people. . . or perhaps hand them a brochure or flyer type handout describing your book. . .you know. . like what shows on the book flap. They may get away from you and read it, then come back.

About the only thing in the way of a bookstore we have in my area is Hastings. I was there one day when an author set up for a book signing. I could tell she was nervous, but I noticed she didn't greet people. . .she was pleasant if spoken to first, but she never initiated a conversation. I think you may have to draw at least those first few in to your table. Act in a manner that would embarrass your tween/teenager :gone the one where you say "Hello" to a stranger and the kid pokes you in the side and hisses "Mom, why do you do that? It's SO embarrassing! You don't even know those people."

07-12-2004, 08:11 AM
Well, I've had nine novels published, so I guess I have no reason to bitch or to be on this site.

Anyway, the ideas here are great, but the best way I've found to make a book signing successful is to be proactively friendly. Too many writers just sit at a table, waiting and hpoing someone will come over.

Be friendly, smile, talk to people about anything and everything. Start conversations yourself. Most important, listen. People love to talk about themselves, and if you give them the chance you'll make a friend. Usually a book-buying friend.

They will then tell other people how nice and friendly you are. Word spreads.


07-12-2004, 03:52 PM
the best way I've found to make a book signing successful is to be proactively friendly.

See, that's where I run into trouble. I'm totally friendly if someone approaches me. No problem with having conversations and all, but I feel weird walking up to someone (who likely has no interest in my book topic) and just talking. Even if I say nothing about my book, I still feel like an annoying salesperson-- I feel like they must be thinking, "Why is she talking to me? Oh, she wants me to buy her book. I don't want to be a freelance writer." I'd probably feel differently if it wasn't a niche book.

Am I looking at this wrong? What do you talk about when you approach people in a store?

Love the other suggestions people have made, by the way. And I DO give out chocolate! :grin And hard candies for the non-chocoholics.

Stephenie Hovland
07-12-2004, 05:11 PM
I would be the same way. I can sit there and smile, but approaching people is asking a lot! However, it should be done.

Here's what I would do: Write down several phrases on an index card (someone here can help you brainstorm those.) Memorize them and keep the card handy. Make a goal. Example: For every 10 people that walk through the door, I will get up and approach at least one, saying one of those phrases. If they approach my table, I will open my mouth and talk before they get within three feet. (Something concrete like that so you don't back out of conversation.)

Eventually, it should get easier and it will not be seen as threatening to the customers.

One of my problems with approaching someone is how to address them if they aren't looking at me. So, prepare for that, too - "Hey, dummy!" "What you lookin' at?" and "Get out of the cookbook section. You spend too much time cooking already." probably shouldn't be on your note card.


07-12-2004, 06:03 PM
I'm not sure what you talk about when you approach a stranger. Something always somes up for me.

But it isn't something I learned at book signings. One of the things I've done for many years is go somewhere different just about every week. Be it county fair, a political dinners, a chili supper, all sorts of meetings held at the library, a music festival, a new restaurant. or just to a small town I haven't been to before, I go to meet new people and talk about things I know nothing about.

I've found this carries over to book signings. People want to talk, you just have to give them the chance.

07-14-2004, 07:00 PM
Try to get your table placed where people entering the business will have to walk by it. When they come in, just act like the Walmart greeter. . . ."Hello, how are you today?" If you only smile at them, it makes it much easier for them to look away and ignore you.

If your book is about writing, say something like "I'm here promoting my book. Do you have any writers on your Christmas list?"

If you are handing out bookmarks, don't only give them to the ones buying the book. Have some to use for striking up conversations. . . ."Hello. Would you like a bookmark?" Then when they accept it, say "I'm here promoting my book" or start talking about anything that might get them talking.

Some may be too shy to approach the table first, but you make it easier by speaking up first. Of course, others may be trying to get the h___ away! If people are stopped talking & looking, then others want in on whats going on.

07-30-2004, 04:58 AM
Hey, when doing book signings and sending out the press releases.... try finding which radio stations and local tv stations have either noon time local programing and get you and yourself on there..... for talk radio in the area... you promote not only your book but agree to take callers questions as well.... and good luck...

dana smithmansell
07-30-2004, 10:29 PM
Great suggestions everyone-thanks! Got a book release coming out in the fall.
Another Snoopy fan here-he's been my fav for more years than I like to admit. I have the entire collection of "early" Charles Schulz. Dana

08-01-2004, 04:35 AM
Cool, Dana! What's your book?

dana smithmansell
08-03-2004, 08:12 PM
Hi Jenna, thanks for asking! My children's book is about bullying and resolution. It is for ages 4-8. The title is "Stop Bullying Bobby!" and will be released this fall. I'm really excited about it, as it has become an overwhelming problem in our area particularly. I'm hoping it will help in creating awareness and understanding.
Just a note, your newsletter and site have been a valuable tool in learning and growing in my writing career. Thanks for a great place that encourages growth! :thumbs Dana

08-05-2004, 04:32 PM
Thanks, Dana, and congrats on the book!

One of my books, Taking Down Syndrome to School, deals with the issue of kids making fun of kids who are "different." I took my brother (who has DS) with me to speak to a second grade class who had read the book-- we read it and answered questions afterwards, and it was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. The kids talked about their own bullying/teasing experiences and were so nice to my bro. A boy with learning disabilities related to the book and asked if he could take it home so his mom could read it to him again... what a moment. :grin

I hope you'll do some school talks with your book, too! It sounds like perfect material to bring into classrooms, and I bet it'll warm your heart, too!

dana smithmansell
08-09-2004, 09:05 PM
Hi Jenna-your book on Down Syndrome is a much needed tool! I have taught special education for many years, and have learned so much from the experiences of my students and their families. As a professional I have always tried to listen and observe my families, as they have such a great knowledge base for coping. With your experience, and of course your love for your brother, I'm sure your book has been a great gift to many. I am sure your brother enjoyed attending the book talk with you, and was very proud! Where can I find your book, I'd like to refer some families and colleagues to your title?
I do plan on speaking in schools and within the community-it will be an ideal time to assist others in promoting tolerances of differences. Thanks Jenna!

10-26-2004, 01:30 AM
I read on this thread and on another website that you should always send out press releases for your book signings.

Does anyone have an example of a press release specificially for a book signing?

A book signing isn't really news, it's an announcement. Therefore, why would newspaper reporters care about one?

I know that when you send out press releases announcing the title of your new book, you should tie it into some sort of news going on in your city. But how do you do that with just a book signing?

Any ideas?


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11-11-2004, 08:43 AM
I remember Uncle Jim making a suggestion about chocolate. A bowl of Hershey kisses on your table.

I did that at one of my book signings. It was a summer day, and the book store owner thought it'd be a great idea for me to sit outside and sign my books. Well, I sold a lot of books, but the chocolate died within minutes. That can even happen in an over-heated building. And you don't want little kids unwrapping the chocolate and getting stuff on your books.

I suggest pencils with your book's title imprinted on it, bookmarks, business cards, and when you're sitting at the table, hold up the book to everyone who passes by, smile, and say, "I'm the author." They usually stop. You then hand them a book to look at and pray they buy it.

11-22-2004, 06:25 AM
Also, be sure you have a pitch all ready to go when they ask you: What is this about? Or, Why should I buy this?

11-25-2004, 11:22 PM
Make sure your pitch is only one or two sentences long. Short and to the point. A "hook." Then you hand them a copy to look at, and shut up. But keep smiling and look enthused (even if you feel like your face is cracking from so much smiling).