By Tammi Sauer
Doing a book signing can be a little intimidating—especially if you arrive at the store and see something like this:
Suddenly, all you feel like doing is running home and hanging out with your dog.
But you can’t. You must act like a professional. Even if you are dying on the inside.
Then you remember you are a professional. You’ve planned for this. You’ve read “The Tips Tammi Wished She Had Known About Before She Did Her First Book Signing.”
While these suggestions are primarily geared toward picture book writers, many of them can be applied to novelists as well.
- Arrange for the signing to coincide with the store’s regularly scheduled
story time. That way you can share your book with a built in audience.
- Tell your family and friends about the signing and ask them to spread the word. Moral support is a very good thing.
- Have something attention-getting at your signing table—it makes a great conversation piece. When I did signings for Bawk & Roll (Sterling, 2012), for example, I had a stuffed chicken that squawked anytime someone picked it up by the neck.
- Come up with a craft that ties in with your book. Make sure it’s fairly easy, not too messy, and fun. If it involves copious amounts of glitter and glue, find a different craft.
- Have something inexpensive to offer the people who are kind enough to stop by your table. Examples include candy, tattoos, and bookmarks.
- Smile. Look like you want to be there and not like you are mentally prepping for a root canal.
- Consider having a sign-up opportunity. In exchange for a name and email address, you can offer to send out behind-the-scenes information, book news, and activities that tie in with the book such as word searches or readers’ theater scripts.
- Don’t anchor yourself to your chair. Stand up. Walk around a little bit. Be visible.
- If you unexpectedly hear over the intercom system that you are going to be doing a reading at the back of the store, resist the urge to hide under your table. Give the crowd your best. Not only read your book, but perform it a little bit. Consider building some audience participation into your bookstore readings. Be engaging. If possible, be funny. (I somehow pulled this off the day after I recovered from the Swine Flu. I consider this one of my life’s biggest achievements.)
- Be ready to answer the pressing question: “Where’s the bathroom?”
- When you’re signing a book for someone, engage in some conversation. If you have a brain freeze, you can always go with the simple, “Who is this book for? How old is he/she?” Then talk about the awesomeness of that recipient.
- Be prepared to have your picture taken.
- Remember to send a thank you card to the person who made it possible for you to do a signing at the store. My dad always told me, “You can never say thank you enough.” He was right.
- Sometimes you will be signing next to Someone Very Famous. Avoid looking at that person’s line.
- Realize that sometimes bookstore signings don’t result in many—if any—sales. Be okay with that. If nothing else, at least you will come away from the experience with a story to tell. “And this one time, at a book signing…”
This fall Tammi has three very good reasons for getting into the book signing groove: Oh, Nuts!, illustrated by Dan Krall (Bloomsbury), Princess in Training, illustrated by Joe Berger (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and The Twelve Days of Christmas in Oklahoma, illustrated by Victoria Hutto (Sterling). Enter to win author-signed copies of each of these books. Author sponsored. Eligibility: U.S.
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