A book signing can seem like a daunting task, especially to introverts like myself. If people don’t flock to your table like J.K. Rowling or Veronica Roth, it falls to you to draw attention to your book, be able to describe what you are selling effectively, and keep up light-hearted conversation even when someone disses your entire genre. (Sadly, that happens.)
Here are six things you can do to make the book signing experience easier and ultimately sell more books:
#1: HAVE AN EPIC COVER
This is probably the most important thing at a book signing, unless you count the way you smell. Because…if you haven’t bathed for a week, I don’t care how awesome your cover is. You won’t be selling any books. Please bathe.
If you’re not satisfied with your cover, authors often redesign their books, especially if they are gathering positive attention online. If you don’t know any affordable designers, I recommend giving 99Designs a try.
Second only to the content, your cover is your best marketer, whether online or in person.
#2: HAVE A SHORT SYNOPSIS READY
If you’re anything like I was when I first started out, you might feel like a siren with bronchitis trying to lure sailors to a watery death. Except, you’re just an author, the sailors are potential readers, and death is your novel. Lovely analogy, I know.
The thing is, once you start talking about your novel to people who would spend good money on it, you may start to have doubts about yourself, especially when you don’t have your answers figured out beforehand. Before I learned this step, I was a hopeless case of bumbling nerves.
My answer would go something like this: “Uh…it’s about a girl…who goes to an arena to learn about her second form. Um, it’s in a world of shapeshifters. And…her second form turns out to be very unique. Yeah.”
Smooth, J.B. Smooth.
So bottom line, try to summarize your novel in about 3 sentences.
#3: BE PROUD OF YOUR WORK
Be confident in what you’ve done! You’re an author! You’ve written a book! Not many people can say that.
There will always be people to knock you down. Some will say your book stinks. Some will say they would rather beat their head against a brick wall than read your book. Those people are entitled to live their sad lives, without the awesomeness that is your novel.
Then there are people that will love it. They’ll raise it on a pedestal and shout out its praises from the mountain tops. Your work meant something to them. It inspired them. It could be that dude passing by at the bookstore. Or that girl who approaches your table with hesitant interest. You never know.
“Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there’ll always be better writers than you and there’ll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that – but you are the only you.” – Neil Gaiman
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
#4: DRESS PROFESSIONALLY
This can differ depending on where the book signing takes place and where you live. (E.g. A New York City bookstore versus a café in a rinky-dink little town.) I have yet to sign books in a big city, so when I dress up, I don’t go to the nines. I linger somewhere around the fives. A nice blouse, dress pants, and flats, usually. Still kind of casual and totally approachable.
Naturally, if you’re a man, please don’t wear a blouse or flats. That would be weird.
Your personal cover is almost as important as your book’s.
Speaking of your personal cover, nothing goes farther with marketing than a simple smile. If you look bored or depressed, who would want to go up to your table? Unless your book is directed to the emo/goth community, I suggest keeping a pleasant expression on your face.
I bring books just in case things start to go slow, but most of the time, I smile and nod to passersby, and it generally reels in more people than you would think.
Not everyone will stop, but they’ll notice you. That’s all you may need for them to look up your name later on Google.
#6: INVEST IN MARKETING MATERIALS
Before your book signing, it’s a good idea to invest in posters, business cards, bookmarks, etc. I was quite unprepared for my first book signing (an unexpected event, in which I had one day of warning), and ended up being overlooked most of the day. Not very pleasant.
Having posters and the like makes you and your table more noticeable. If you have good reviews to show off, even better. Someone else enjoying your book instantly makes it ten times more interesting.
Vistaprint.com makes it simple to create your own materials with professional quality.
Can you think of any other tips that would improve the book signing experience? I would love to hear about them in the comments!