Tonight - Wednesday, March 30, from 5-8:30 p.m. - I'll be at the 13th annual GIRLS NIGHT OUT, sponsored by Puritan Clothing of Cape Cod and Cape Cod media group. The evening benefits WE CAN, the local Women's Empowerment network here on the Cape, and features fun food and drink, three local authors, and shopping for a cause.
I don't have nearly enough books.
But here's the thing I've learned from previous book signings. Not everyone is going to buy a book. Not everyone is even - gasp - a reader. And of those who are readers, many wouldn't buy a paperback romance. Which is fine - I have postcards to hand out and they can go home and download the Kindle or epub versions. In fact, SAY YES is only available as an ebook anyway.
What are the important things to remember for a book signing?
1. Bring Books. Okay, already covered that and know I don't have enough. But I have at least a few dozen of each and if I sell out, I'll be over the moon.
2. Bring your Sense of Humor and a Smile. Yes, you probably thought that would be at the end of the list, but no, it's gotta go right up front because it's one of the most important things. Whether people buy your book or not, you need to be friendly. Smile. Chat. Just as if it were a cocktail party in your brand new neighborhood and you're trying to make a great first impression on everyone. True, at a book signing you may never see any of these people again, except perhaps your friends who come to support you. On the other hand, you never know. And you never know who they know. Making a good impression on everyone makes good sense in any business setting. Smiling goes a long, long way.
3. Pack Pens. More than One. This might seem like a no-brainer for a signing. But trust me, put it on the master list. I once arrived at a signing without my favorite pens... luckily I carry one of those beach-bag sized purses, and happened to find something suitable floating at the bottom. Now I put it on the list to cross off.
4. Order SWAG with your book cover(s) and name on it. Face it, many people won't buy the book on the spot. Either they won't have the cash, or they won't be able to make a decision, or any number of reasons. But if you chat and give them a postcard or bookmark with your book cover and info on it, they'll find it in their purse later and follow up.
SWAG also includes any little giveaways you might want to hand out. I have a bowl of conversation candy hearts and little drawstring takeaway bags of them to give away to promote SAY YES. Candy is usually a good draw. I also have some other mints and candies to promote the other romance novels, and black rubber bracelets that promote the YA series (for this event, it'll be like take one home for the kids. For events with kids, I have a series of color-your-own mermaid bookmarks that seem to be a hit with younger readers.) Don't break the bank, but have something people can take away and remember you with.
5. Post Pricing Signage. This one I still need to work on for this week's event. My last several signings have been in stores, where they scan the barcode and charge at the register. Except when I went to Winterfest in Eastham last year, where I had my own table. And forgot to make a price sign. I find a lot of people are afraid to ask, and don't even get into the conversation because they don't want to make it seem like their decision is based on price. Make it easy on both of you. Post your prices.
6. Bring a Water bottle. All that smiling and chatting may leave you parched. Eat beforehand, and/or plan to eat after, but for the event itself, just have water handy.
7. Wear something you feel comfortable in. If you want to dress up and you're comfortable in high heels, go for it. But you can be stylish and authorly without a black cocktail dress or Talbots power suit. Jeans can work just fine for most occasions. On the other hand, don't get too comfortable. If you're in yoga pants and a t-shirt, people might not take you seriously - unless your book is about yoga and you plan on demonstrating during the signing. I know one local author who always looks like she's dressed to clean out her garage, and another who writes historical fiction and dresses in a velvet Elizabethan gown. Guess which one more people stop to chat with? Find what you're happy with, but make an effort.
8. Don't sit behind a table and wait for people to come to you. Unless you're Nora Roberts or J.K.Rowling, you're going to have to work a little more to engage readers. I'm not saying literally grab people as they walk by, but proactive chat is always a good thing. It's what I always taught my Girl Scouts. Smile and engage people. Interesting fact: the number one reason people don't buy Girl Scout cookies is because no one asked them.
9. Spend time before the event deciding how to sign your name. Silly, right? Until you're sitting there frozen with pen in hand. Take a few moments to think over your options. Do you want to just write your whole name? If it's a pen name, I really suggest practicing so you don't sign your real name by mistake. Do you have a tag line to include? Are you going to personalize the books for people? I even suggest deciding which page has room for what you want to sign, so it's a more fluid and automatic process once you're in the moment. Maybe it's just me, but at my very first signing, I was so excited I was shaking a little each time I wrote my name. It's easier now. But it doesn't hurt to plan ahead.
10. Smile and Be Gracious. Yeah, I'm saying it again because I truly believe it's the most important thing to remember. Even if no one buys a single book, remember to thank your host.
And even more important... HAVE FUN. Because, really. Why do it if it's not fun?
Now, if I missed anything important PLEASE leave a comment and let me know. Because this signing tonight is really, really important to me. I don't want to mess it up!
Wish me luck!