Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Signings - Do's and Do Not's

Next Wednesday, I'm having my first official book signing, at a local Barnes & Noble. I am at once excited and terrified (mostly, I'm terrified that the only people who will show up are my relatives - but I'm excited too, because I have a LOT of relatives!).

Since this is my first, I'm not entirely sure I'm qualified to give advice about them. But I'll tell you what I've heard - and maybe you can tell me what you've heard or experienced.

* Do show up on time.

* Do not expect the bookstore staff to actually know who you are and what you're doing there (apparently, they don't really care unless your name's J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer).

* Do plan to stay for as long as the signing lasts.

* Do not wear a mongoose costume (or other inappropriate clothing - this includes an inappropriate lack of clothing).

* Do smile and greet everyone, even if they're just asking you where the bathroom is.

* Do not sit behind the table for two hours. Stand up, make eye contact with wandering customers, and look as interesting as possible.

* Do bring a drink or two for yourself.

* Do not bring pets, bodyguards, ninja swords, or electronic devices bearing any resemblence to bombs.

That's all the fairly standard advice for book signing preparations I have at the moment. Here's a few extra things I'm planning to do for mine:

* Wear a shirt that says "I make stuff up" (in the hopes that I won't get too many people asking for bathroom directions).

* Bring a fancy bowl and free chocolate to fill it with (thank you, Aaron, for the great tip!).

* Set up my laptop on the table and have my book trailer open on it, so when people say "What's your book about?" I can say, "Watch this!" and click play.

* Arrange for plants (RE multiple family members) to arrive at various times and gush loudly about how awesome my book is (I can do this because my family is crazy, and I love every last nutty one of them).

Anyone have more book signing advice for me? I'd love to hear it!


s.w. vaughn said...

Found another tip! Have a one or two sentence answer for the question everybody's going to ask: "What's your book about?" (Of course, I'm going to cheat and play my trailer... :P)

Olivia said...

Those tips are pretty good, though I must warn you: don't worry too much. Being at your own book signing is a little bit like having drank a bit too much vodca at your birthday party. You won't remember much of what happened when you wake up the next day.

I think I signed about 80 books in my first book signing, and about 60 the next (those relatives tend to dissipate the more you publish, I warn ya), and I certainly forgot most of what happened. There's SO MUCH going on around you, and yet most of what you can do is be there SIGNING books, so you can't quite enjoy the party... And people tend to entretain themselves after all.

Still, it's fun :)

Another good advice: have in mind a few different lines to write to different people. Sure I had a friend who would always sign his books "A hug from FDR", but people are happy when you write something "creative". They don't need to know you have 4 or 5 different types of messages. Just make sure you don't write the same one to people that are close and will be checking out what you wrote to the other one... ;)

s.w. vaughn said...

Thanks, Olivia - that's great advice! I need to think of a few signing phrases. :-)

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Oh, gosh, S.W., I meant to answer this earlier, but our appointments/errands took over the rest of the day.

Here's what I bring to signings and other events: a clipboard for people to sign up for my LeGarde Newsletter, chocolate (DOVE!) (but you know that!), a table cover if there isn't already going to be one (usually B&N has a nice table all set up for you), copies of my books to read from, marked up with the edits I would have made if I could have done them ONE more time, flyers with all my books, short synopses, and how to buy them, bookmarks with all the pertinent stuff on them, printouts of some of the best reviews, plastic stands to hold the bookmarks/flyers, etc, a poster to put on an easel with my big honkin face on it and "Book Signing" on it, I also have these clear plastic stands that I put the books on so folks can see them better. Most of my winery events are longgggg, so I bring a box lunch and bottled water, etc. to munch on when it gets slow.

I agree about having the one minute elevator speech about your book. That was the hardest thing ever for me to do, but I figured it out for my first book and kept practicing my answer in the car. I was so excited when I was able to use it the next day in a restaurant when the waitress asked, "what's your book about?" LOL.

Have a BLAST! And tell your family it really does draw a crowd for them to walk over and exclaim loudly, "Oh my GOD! Are you the AUTHOR?" Then have them stand there and flip through your book and exclaim, 'THIS LOOKS GREAT!' Ha. It's so funny how it draws attention. My daughter did that for me one year and we got such a kick out of it!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Oh, yeah. What Olivia said is essential. You don't want to just sign your name, that's boring and not as personal as folks hope for. Be sure to date it, some folks keep them as collectibles, and they will be more valuable some day with the date!

s.w. vaughn said...

Thank you, Aaron! WHEW - that's a lot of things to do! I know your signings are awesome (I've been to one! Woo hoo!)... I probably won't have everything by then, but I think I can get book stands and maybe something to display the business cards on. I am all over the chocolate thing! LOL

Apparently B&N has already put up huge standing signs in the store with my picture (EEK) and the book cover on them to announce the signing...

Now I just have to entice people over to the table! *G*

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

You're right - the B&N signings are very nicely organized. That's what they did in my Pittsford B&N - lovely room set up with Mazurka books all over the place, a nice table with a special pen, and a podium to speak at. But this was a book signing event, so maybe different from yours. But they are really good about the posters of the authors, etc. You need to bring the very least to a B&N signing - you're all set as it is, I'm sure!!! These other things are just stuff you can think of for the next one if you want - like our June signing at the winery!!! Yay!