Yesterday, I held my first book signing. My local library was kind enough to let me set up a table and meet with folks wanting to hear about the process of traditionally publishing The Choice.
I had some hesitation of doing an event like this. First, many libraries already warned of low turn-outs for author events and pushed back on the idea. Second, what would I talk about? I really didn’t want to read from my story as the basis of my event. I decided to talk about the publishing process itself and talk about my story as it fit with the conversation.
Summarizing the publishing process that I endured was easy as I’ve lived it for the last three years for my book. I have plenty of experience with PowerPoint through the work that I do in my career. I looked back at the timeline and added a diagram of the time it took from inception of idea to the release date of my story. I also had summary of queries from logs I kept so I could provide some counts and various statistics of responses I received.
Practicing my presentation a few times, I had it down pretty well. I didn’t want to spend too long talking as I wanted to sell some books too! I made sure to stop by the library and review where I’d be speaking beforehand so I’d be comfortable with my surroundings. I also took note of what supplies I’d need, such as a folding table. Ahead of my event, I had ordered a poster size version of my cover art from Vistaprint as well as some bookmarks. Finally, I made sure to bring one-dollar bills, change, and a card reader I could plug into my phone so I could accept credit cards. At the end of my talking, I added easily that I have books for sale if anyone has interest as well as a signup sheet for recording e-mail addresses. I was pretty confident I had all I needed; my main concern was the presentation itself and hoping I’d have an audience.
As it turned out, I had some help with wrangling people to come to my signing and I had a nice size audience. The library staff were extremely friendly and the topic of the publishing process was something they were happy to have someone speak about. My major issue turned out to be something I had not considered – isn’t that always the case? People wanted to write checks, and James Alexander is my pen-name. It wasn’t until after someone wrote me a check under my pen-name did I realize I’d have a hard time cashing it so I provided my real name! That will be something I’ll have solved for the next event.
A piece of advice I read about previously and turned out to be the best advice I heard was to make sure someone is available to help by accepting payments. There was a rush at the end of my event where people wanted to talk to me, and others wanted to purchase copies of my story. I had a friend who took over the collection of money and providing books so all I had to do was worry about talking with the audience and signing books.
Key items to bring to bring with you to a book signing:
- A folding table (an extra table is always a good thing to have!)
- Your books
- Candy to hand out or cookies – everyone loves treats!
- A poster and other marketing items
- Book holders
- A friend for helping
I hope this may help anyone thinking of holding a book signing for the first time. Mine turned to be a fun and engaging event that I’d repeat.