Author book signings are great events not just for the fans they draw in, but for the authors themselves. There’s nothing quite like standing in a line of people who are all excited about the same book, same characters, and same story.
At author book signings there’s a kind of magic in the air and it’s not just about buzz. While author book signings and appearances help create buzz and are an important part of marketing, at its core, writing is about readers. Readers love meeting the authors who impact their lives.
If you recently published a book, or published one in the past and are eager to meet your readers, this article is for you. I cover our top seven tips to author book signings and appearances so that your time in the limelight is as stress-free and fun as possible.
Keep in mind that author appearances also benefit readers who may not have picked up your book otherwise. When readers see a group of people engaged with an author, your audience will likely grow. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
#1 – Author Book Signings: Prepare With Line One
Your author book signing does not start the moment you walk into the event space, sit down at the table, and pick up your pen.
For authors, their preparation actually starts months in advance. When you sit down to write that first sentence of your draft, you are preparing for your future appearances. The key to booking, and continuing to book, signings and appearances is to write a book your readers can’t put down.
#2 – Don’t Forget About The Humanity Of Your Characters
Especially for fiction, and even nowadays for nonfiction, there is a pull to create larger-than-life protagonists. When you think of famous heroes however, consider the humanity the writer wrote into them. For fiction:
- Katniss wants to care for her family
- Harry is an orphan
- Tris wants to fit in
- Lopez Lomong was a champion, but also one of the lost boys of Sudan
- Jeannette Walls is now a successful author, but her family was dysfunctional
- Robert Kiyosaki wrote the number one personal finance book of all time, but as a child was excluded by classmates for being poor
The more relatable your characters are, the more your readers will want to show up to your author book signing events.
#3 – Make The Big Ask
If you’ve attended author book signings but never done your own, the process may feel intimidating. However, I challenge you to make the big ask: write the email, send the inquiry, make the phone call.
- Contact the venue well in advance so they can schedule you
- Communicate if the venue (for example, Barnes & Noble) provides books or you need to bring them
- Market on social media where and when your signing will take place
- Bring any materials you need (table, chair, marketing materials, business cards, etc.)
- Show up early
Once you have your first successful signing, your confidence will grow for the next big ask!
#4 – Remember You Are The Author
People who show up attend for you—the author they love. Of course, there will be the individuals who weren’t aware an author book signing was happening and walk by out of curiosity, but even these people are interested.
You wrote the book. Your readers loved it enough to build their schedule around meeting you. Recognize this as the privilege it is and enjoy your time. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable your fans will be.
#5 – Author Appearances: Contact Your Local TV Station
If you want to appear on TV or conduct a radio interview, all that’s standing between you is reaching out. Remember to present yourself professionally, and don’t forget about your author media kit.
You may live in a smaller town and your local news would love to interview you. If you live in a bigger city, resist the urge to back away from this tremendous opportunity. Many of the most successful writers conduct the best marketing, and therefore, have the best author book signings.
#6 – Bring An Author Friend
Consider a dual author book signing and reach out to an author who writes in a similar genre. This collaboration can be beneficial for both of you, as your respective audiences will meet each other and likely chat about what they love about your book.
Both of your audiences can broaden as a result, and you will be supporting another author as well. While publishing often seems like a competition for sales, writers write because they love the power of words. It’s worth celebrating and bringing other authors along with us.
#7 – Include A Giveaway
Whether you prepare for author book signings or your next author appearance, don’t forget the power of giveaways and sweepstakes. Readers love the opportunity to enter their name into a drawing, win prizes, and walk away with free merch.
If you have a longer book signing or an appearance that will last multiple hours, consider including several giveaways:
- Market the giveaways along with your appearance or signing
- Space the giveaways throughout the event
- Save the biggest giveaway for last
Ideas to include are a free copy of your book, merchandise if you have it, a book bundle, a free online meeting with a lucky winner, etc.
Bonus Tip: Dress The Part
If you worry about your fashion at author book signings, you’re not alone. Many individuals who make public appearances employ an entire team to help them get ready for the big event. The good news is, you don’t have to have a team to dress well. Here are two simple tips to boost your confidence:
When In Doubt, Go With Business Casual
Business casual is a safe option for attire because you can easily dress it up (put on the jacket) or dress it down (swap out your dress shoes for sneakers). If you show up and feel underdressed, simply add the one accessory, or vice versa.
Dress As A Favorite Character
If business casual isn’t your style, no worries. When you begin marketing your signing, also market that readers can attend in character-costume. This applies to you, as well! Choose a character and dress the part. While this works better for fiction signings, you can use it for nonfiction as well.
Learn From Every Event, Plan For The Next
One of the amazing facets of the writing world is that there is no limit to your growth. Every author book signing or appearance you make is an opportunity to test new ideas and learn from past events.
Keep in mind that right along with marketing, the geographical location of your signing or appearance will likely impact your turnout. For instance, if you are from Cleveland, Ohio, and have a book signing at a Barnes & Noble, many loyal readers will likely turn up.
Wherever you book your appearances, enjoy the process and learn from it. If you show up to your first book signing and no one else does, that’s ok. It takes courage to ask to do a book signing, show up, and sign a book or two. But, it also takes courage to face lines of eager fans.
No matter where you are in your author book signing journey, learn from your events, plan the next, and move forward with boldness.