When we first start writing, many of us dream of having a book signing event. We also cower at the prospect of having to talk to ‘real people.' But for the most part, meeting readers is what we want. Organizing and delivering a book signing day can be daunting. ALLi Author member Eileen Omosa, from Africa now living in Canada, explains how to organize a book signing day.
How long should it take to launch your book after publication? You might think it's immediate, but it took me close to three years. I've written this article to help shorten the time it will take you.
How I Organized My Book Signing Day
Once I was done with the internal fight on why I got myself into a public event, I shifted my attention to how to make the book signing a success. I drew on experience from my career which included organizing workshops, conferences, and training sessions. Acknowledging that industries differ, I asked for book-related ideas via social media and from professional associations including the Alliance of Independent Authors and Writers Guild of Alberta. I also read relevant articles by Alison Morton and Lorina Stephens.
Tasks and Items You Need for a Book Signing
- Order physical copies to arrive in good time.
- One of my children designed and printed 8.5″ X 11″ posters:
- Author photo with a summary description of the genre and description of the book series, and an invitation for people to come and ask me what happens when the African girl-child acquires an education and becomes a career woman.
- Book covers with a visible price.
- Postcards: photos of book covers and where to make a purchase. I added Amazon, Kobo, and my website.
- Name tag.
- Business cards.
- Stationery: assorted pens in an attractive container, post-it notes, notepad, book racks, acrylic poster holders, paper bags, tablecloth.
- Trolley for easy pulling of heavy books.
- Drinking water, dry snacks, mints, hand sanitizer.
On Book Signing Day
- I dressed in my book-signing attire: blouse, heeled shoes and an extra pair of flats just in case.
- I arrived fifteen minutes early and introduced myself to store staff. I was happy that they were well informed of my book signing event that day. They brought a table, chair, tablecloth, book racks and acrylic poster holders for my use.
- I displayed the books and walked a short distance away from the table to view it from the perspective of people entering and leaving the mall and adjusted the table accordingly. I also took photos of the set-up.
- I paid attention to people passing by and greeted anyone who paused or appeared to have question. I introduced myself as the author and asked if they like to read books and what genre they preferred. That got us into a conversation with them asking what my books were about. Some of our discussions ended with them saying they'd buy one or both books.
- I offered to autograph the book. When they said yes, I asked them to write their name on a post-it note so I didn't have to ask them how to spell. Afterward, I thanked them and pointed them to the sales desk to complete the purchase.
- I encouraged people to pick a postcard, especially those who said they would check online for my e-books or they were still thinking about the books. I thanked each for stopping to talk with me.
- It’s not all bliss, one elderly man stopped by and asked why I'd left Africa with all her poor people behind? I did not lose my smile as I engaged him in a wider discussion. He did not make a purchase, but he left with a smile on his face.
- Note: There are times you will have more than two potential clients at a time. I greeted all and gave attention on first-come first-served basis. Those waiting either read the book blurbs until it was their turn, or, on a few occasions, listened to or joined in our going conversation.
- People want to read books. Authors need to attend events at public spaces to introduce and avail themselves of our books.
- We all long to hear stories. People were willing to stay and chat in relation to the wider setting of my books: Africa.
- Dress in something appropriate and relevant to your book.
- Next time I will add another poster with the words, “Local Author,” for some people asked where I live, assuming I'd flown in from Africa for the book signing.
Seven hours later my allocated time was up. I thanked the store staff for putting up the event, packed up, and returned the store items.
OVER TO YOU
How do you organize a book signing event? What ideas would you add to my list above?