I went to my first book signing in New Jersey on the 19th of October as part of a writers’ conference I attended. There were over 40 authors signing, among them a fellow Soul Mate Publishing author, who belongs to the chapter hosting the New Jersey Romance Writers conference. (Waving at Penny here)
I’ve been to plenty of book signings, but I’ve always been on the buying side of the table, never the selling side. I’ve gushed at authors over books I’ve loved. Chatted up the authors I know personally. And stood in front of an unknown-to-me author, perused the back cover of her book, then awkwardly laid it back down on the table and walked away, usually saying some inane thing like, “I’ve just started looking.”
My, how the shoe feels when it’s on the other foot
Having now been on the other side of the table, I will never look at a book signing in the same way. Here are a few things I learned from my first signing.
- Authors (as well as readers) may feel anxiousness when meeting unfamiliar people at a book signing. I know I did. So, when a potential reader approaches, strike up some form of conversation. It eases the tenseness.
- Most readers gravitate to the authors they know or read. The most successful sellers, besides the big names, were those who had a lot of friends come around. So, if possible, have some of your friends or readers come to the signing. It could create buzz at your table.
- Don’t obsess on what greeting to write in your book. Choose eight, short salutations. If you’re lucky you might get to use half of them.
- Smile and enjoy yourself … even if you don’t sell any books.
- Send someone to shop for you. My table mate had perused the room before the signing started and sent a friend to collect the books she wanted. I didn’t get to buy any books since I was trying to sell them and hadn’t thought to do this ahead.
- Remember, it’s not always about how many books you sell at the signing. You may see an uptick in purchases even after the book signing is over. So, if a reader says, “Is this available as an e-book?” don’t despair that you might have lost a print book sale. Instead, say, “Yes, it is,” and tell them where they can download it. Then say, “Let me sign a bookmark/postcard (or whatever swag you have to give away with the buy links included) so you can remember the title and author.” And give them whatever other freebies you might have to offer. Because …
- Book signings are not only about selling books. They are also about getting exposure and discovering potential readers.
What kind of book signing experiences have you had as a reader or as an author?