Book Signing Basics

August 1-4, 2019

Next weekend I will be privileged to attend Indie Book Fest. There will be parties, readers, events, a knowledge-packed industry day and — Ta Ta Daaah — a signing!

I am even more excited than usual about this signing because I didn’t think I was going to get to go. Scheduling conflicts and the demon money had conspired to keep me home that weekend, but somehow, the signing gods smiled upon me and I GET. TO. GO!

This has resulted in a flurry of last-minute preparation including swag creation and multiple boxes hitting the mail. What kind of preparation and why is it so important, you may ask.

Books: This seems like a no-brainer, but they do take time and money to order. In addition, how many to take with you is an important question. Many events have a reader group where you can place a pre-order list. Do it. Having people sign up to purchase a book guarantees them a copy, and it brings them to your table. Take the opportunity to get to know them a little — this is, after all, what they came for. There’s also the possibility that they will see another book they’d like to purchase while they are with you.

If you are an author who only does e-books, going to a signing should provide an incentive to create paperbacks. You could – and likely should – create cards with QR codes for those who prefer e-books, but I advise against making this the only option at your table.

Most readers come to signings specifically to get a signed book…

Most readers come to signings specifically to get a signed book in their hand. Disappointing them is not a good idea. IngramSpark, Amazon, Draft2Digital and a number of other resources such as Vellum, can help with providing print copies, but you need to give yourself plenty of time. (I used to use Createspace, but it has been subsumed by Amazon, and I have yet to check out their new service, so I can’t advise you here. I would love to hear about your experience with creating print books in the comments.)

SWAG: I always send swag ahead for readers. This time, because I get to facilitate a workshop on writing action scenes, and sit on an editing panel, I also sent swag for my author peeps. All of this took time and money to create.

Brand recognition is the name of the game.

Why do it?

Because name recognition is the name of the game. It has been said that it takes seven touches – seven times that the client sees your product or name in a favorable light – to move them from awareness to purchase. Useful SWAG keeps your name in front of them longer, and every time they see it or use it is a touch. Just make sure that every piece of SWAG has your contact info on it.

Signage: Banners will get you noticed by new readers while telling your devoted fans where to find you. Don’t leave home without yours. Small signs for the table are important too. Price lists and sale signs give the reader an excuse to linger while providing necessary information without them having to ask. Don’t hesitate to engage them in conversation while they read the signs! Meeting you and other authors is why they are there in the first place.

Cash box and card reader: You will have a lot harder time making sales without these. The more convenient you can make things for the reader, the better, and while many bring cash, others don’t. Being able to provide change and take credit cards can be make-or-break points for your sale.

The signing is a week away, but I’ve already started going down my checklist, making sure I have everything I need. I usually take the same things, so you would think packing would become routine after a while. However, it never fails but that I forget something, hence the checklist.

Making your table welcoming and engaging is key to signing success. There are a lot of ways to do it. But having the right materials in place is a key component.

So, when is your next signing and what are you taking?

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