I had a book signing with my friend Tess Weaver this past weekend. I’ve learned several things about book signings in the years I’ve been doing them:
1. Book signings are a lot more fun (and probably more successful, too) if you do them with a friend rather than alone. First of all, if no one shows up, you have someone to talk to. But we had a pretty good turnout and didn’t have much time to chat. What was even nicer was some of her friends bought my book, and some of my friends bought her book.
2. Invite your friends! I never used to invite my friends to my book signings because I never wanted anyone to feel like they had to buy a book. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised how many (and which!) friends have shown up at my most recent signings.
3. The holiday season is a good time to do a book signing…especially if there are other things (like an art festival) going on downtown at the same time (though if you have several friends who are participating in the art festival…and you are also playing your mandolin at the mall right after your book signing, you may miss some of your friends). People like to give signed books as Christmas gifts!
4. If the local bookstore doesn’t advertise your signing, you can advertise it yourself! That’s what we did. Tess contacted all the school media specialists and I sent press releases to the newspaper, local calendars, and TV/radio stations. There’s nothing better than having a total stranger come to your book signing to get a book! There were a number of people who showed up at our signing that neither of us knew….including a mom who came with her little girl named Tess all because she’d seen the info about our signing in the newspaper and she thought her daughter would like to have a book by an author who shares her first name! This mom wanted pictures of her daughter and Tess, too!
5. Even if you’re “officially” there to sign your latest picture book, if there’s a reason people might show up to buy one of your other books (i.e. you recently spoke about one of your other books at NCTE and before you left, you practiced your speech about that book in front of four different Toastmasters clubs), TELL the bookstore ahead of time so they don’t run out of copies of your other book (sigh!).
Live and learn….