Friday, July 15

What I learned from my Author Signing

Last week, it was suggested that I re-cap the Author Signing Event which I participated in last weekend… and which had me so tied up in knots. What a great idea! So, here goes:

Bring a great assistant. This also fall under the header “two heads are better than one.” I brought
An awesome-looking table and assistant!
my best friend, who turned out to be the best person for the job. Not only did she help me navigate to the event safely (and kept calm when I realized the car was running on fumes and we’d just passed a plentiful exit), she was always at the ready to fetch me water, wine, or whatever else my little heart desired, greet readers who approached the table when I was preoccupied with other readers, “pimp” my book, and enthusiastically share my swag. And, when reader plunked down $20 bills to purchase my $10 book, she would said, “Oh, what a great idea to buy two books so you can give one away as a gift!” Love the way this gal thinks ;-) Plus, during the few times there was no one at my table, it was nice to have someone to talk to and laugh with… and I’m pretty sure the laughter went a long way in bringing over curious readers. Laughing people are fun people.


Talk to the readers. After the event, one reader told me some of the authors would not talk to her when she approached their table… much less look up from their phone, make eye-contact, or smile. While writers are often introverted people (and I admit I often have my own shy moments when I’d prefer to slink into a dark corner and be alone), an author signing is not the time for this. Eye contact and a simple “hi” go a long way with people who come to these events. I would often ask readers what they liked to read, to help start a conversation. I often found most readers aren’t all that picky about genre, and are just open to a good story. I also found was that when readers approached and asked me “What do you have?” I would respond, “Well, I have wine charms and keychains and bookmarks and candy… Oh… And… um, I have… a book.” Fortunately I had an awesome assistant who compensated for my lack of sales skills. ;-)

Practice your signature. I had been warned, but still didn’t believe, that people would want my signature. On bags, swag, kindle cases, display boards, albums… I was relieved no one asked me to sign their chest or their baby’s forehead, but I’ve never felt like such a rock star before! And signing my pen name isn’t 100% natural yet, so I had to concentrate on writing it (and spelling it correctly!). Pens of all forms, especially silver sharpies, came in handy!
The view from my table, during the VIP session.
Walk around and chat with other authors. Confession: I did not do this well. I walked around early during the set-up time to see other displays and get ideas for swag, but it was a time when most authors were away from their table. Naturally, I chatted with the authors I knew, but got caught up with my own table during the event and didn’t make it back around for a meet-n-greet. I made connections with some, but in retrospect, I missed the opportunities to meet a lot more. Writer peep Anya Breton did a great job of this, challenging herself to make connections with x-number of new writers. Networking at its finest, and I promise to do better.

People don’t necessarily help themselves to candy. I had tons of candy because I thought it would fly off my table. No one took a single piece from my dispenser. I had to spread it out on my table with the rest of my swag. Then I had to beg people to take it. Then I had to tell them there was a 10-piece minimum. I still came home with over half my candy. 

Don’t pack up until the bitter end. Lots of authors began tearing down before the end of the signing. Granted, the number of readers still hanging around was sparse, but they still deserve our attention if they want to stop by and chat. I had a few of these. I didn’t make a sale, but I certainly made a connection. You wouldn’t want the usher to turn on the lights and start sweeping up spilled popcorn at the movie theatre… Would waiting a whole twenty more minutes hurt?

My first buyer of the day...
No bribing or coercion involved!
People were willing to buy my book. Scratch that, they wanted to buy my book. And I didn’t have to coerce, threaten, bribe (except for maybe a few pieces of swag), or beg them to do so. I can understand this kind of reaction to a well-known author, or from an avid fan. I’m neither well-known, nor do I have avid fans. But people purchased my book anyway. Some, because it was Sci-fi romance. Some, for unknown reasons I’m not going to question. It is a humbling, thrilling feeling… having someone willingly purchase your heart, and then hoping they find it worth the money they paid. In fact, when the first person handed me her money, I was so discombobulated I didn’t’ know where I’d put my change, how much to give her, what my name was, how to form human words… As my assistant took over, I promised the reader that I write much better than I speak!

Those are the main themes of the day (well, the ones that don't involve alcohol). It was a great time to spend with my other (current) writer peeps. I did connect with a few new writers. Got LOTS of new facebook friends, writers and readers alike. Sold some books (more than I expected!), and now I am better prepared for the next time. All is good.

12 comments:

  1. Great post and very honest. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

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  2. East Coast HottieJuly 15, 2016 at 10:31 AM

    I love reading what you write. It is like a good conversation. Sounds like a great adventure with lots of encouragement to keep writing. When is the next book coming out?

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    1. "Love and the Corps" I hope to get out the middle of August. Might have to push it off to late August, since we're half-way through July already! Ack!!

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  3. Loved this!!! I agree an asst is a must and TBH hearings someone other then the author gush over the book can make a sale. It did for me in Houston. I Plopped down 40 for a set for me and a friend back home!! I had never heard of this person but loved the books and I follow her on social media.

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  4. It was my first signing too and I had a similar experience. Great post!

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  5. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it and sold books.

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  6. Sounds like you did great! Congrats on the signing!

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  7. Great article and I agree I desperately need to find an assistant to go with me...that was a big pops on my part. It was awesome meeting you, you both are a blast! Hope to see you again soon.

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    1. I'm sure there will be other events I'll have to go it alone :-( It was great to meet you, Miranda! And I hope our paths cross again!

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  8. This was a great post with some great tips built into it. I'm glad it went so well for all of you. BTW, why did you offer candy in lieu of bacon? I must say, that disappoints me a little. :-)

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    1. Mmmmm bacon. Good idea, but I wouldn't be able to keep my fingers out of the bacon and would eat it all. I could at least control myself around the candy! ;-)

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