Attending your first “group of authors” book signing?
Here are some tips and suggestions from myself and previous book signing attendees to make your experience stress-free and memorable:
FIRST AND FOREMOST, HAVE FUN!
1) WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. It’s a long day on your feet. Wear your most comfortable favorites. This also applies to clothing. Hotels always run hot/cold and then put 500 fabulous women into one room? Dress in layers that are easy to manage.
2) WATER. Pack a water bottle in your bag or purse and stay hydrated. Unless you’re buying water and snacks elsewhere, most hotels will charge you a ridiculous amount for a bottle. I hear that bringing a bottle pre-frozen keeps it cold for you all day.
3) ROLLING CARTS OR ROLLING LUGGAGE. If you plan to buy or bring a lot of books, get prepared. Books get heavy after a while. Rolling carts with a crate or box on them or a rolling suitcase will keep you organized and your arms free to hug your favorite author. Most seasoned attendees will tell you that if you’re planning a book haul, carts are the way to go. No, you will not look silly, I promise. Others will have carts. You’ll be part of the bookahaulic in-crowd. I’m waiting for someone to get super creative and make a one with a padded top so you have a rolling chair book hauler wherever you go.
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4) PICTURES. Authors are there to see YOU so don’t be afraid to ask for pictures. This changes depending if you are going to a large event for just one ginormous author – the event staff and security may have other rules for photos. At most group author signings, we welcome it.
5) PRE-ORDER BOOKS YOU KNOW YOU WANT OR BRING YOUR OWN COPIES IF YOU CAN. Many authors offer preordering books before an event. This will ensure that they have a copy of the book you desire set aside just for you. Don’t be upset with them though if they don’t offer pre-orders. The higher the demand the more it is for authors to manage. We don’t care if you buy a book at the event or if you bring your own copies, unless you are at a single author event at a bookstore and the premise is for you to buy your copy there to be signed. Every single author book signing is different. The the larger, groups of authors signing events, the fact that you want a book or bring your own copy is why we wrote it in the first place. And I get it. Many people are ebook readers and may not want paperbacks too. Most authors are just grateful you gave their “babies” a chance.
6) CASH IN HAND. Many authors who are selling their own books will accept credit cards. Some don’t. Set aside a book budget and come prepared. Oh, and if you can, remember ones, fives, and tens.
7) MAPPING OUT YOUR PLAN OF ATTACK. Don’t be upset if your plan to hit “this author first” doesn’t work out. Check with the event coordinators before the event to see if they will be handing out tickets to get into lines to see specific authors. All these well-organized events have a GROUP PAGE on Facebook where questions like that can be posed and answered.
8) AUTHOR SWAG. Most authors will have freebie items on their tables for you to take with you. Some authors will have additional items for sale such as T-Shirts and other memorabilia. Don’t be afraid to take swag like bookmarks and other such items. That’s why we have it.
9) GIVE YOUR FULL FACEBOOK NAME. This is a direct quote from one previous attendee: “As my first time I would say if you interact with an author on social media to make sure you tell them who you are and your full name. I was so excited when some of the authors recognized me.”
10) AUTHORS ARE PEOPLE TOO. Don’t be afraid to talk to an author about their books, especially if it’s an author you haven’t read. We won’t pressure you to buy anything. There’s one wish every author has in common – that readers give our words a chance. Nothing thrills us more than to be able to move you with our work.
11) MANY AUTHORS ARE INTROVERTS. This does not apply to me as I’m as extroverted as they come, but being an author and writing is a very introverted, solitary job most of the time. This simple personality trait may make some authors just as nervous or even more nervous than you. If you go into the event knowing that every author in the room plays with “imaginary friends” most of the time, you should feel a bit more at ease.
12) FANGIRLING. Bring it on. Well, don’t get “restraining order crazy” about it but don’t feel weird either. We all do it. Just ask me about the first time I met Jeaniene Frost. I think I babbled at her. Oh, and I rode in an elevator with Charlaine Harris once. I wanted to sniff her to see if she smelled like blueberry muffins and hot vampires. (I didn’t but I was tempted.) We all have our heroes and favorites.
13) Is an unlucky number, so we’ll skip it.
14) BRING YOUR OWN THING FOR AUTHORS TO SIGN. Kindle/iPad covers work great. So do picture frames and autograph-type books. Some girls go all out and make their own using Shutterfly or Snapfish. Just don’t sell them. You’re not supposed to sell stuff with our pictures in them. We are there secretly hoping you buy a book from us so we can then feed our families the “good” boxed Mac-n-Cheese.
15) PADDED ENVELOPE TO HAUL SWAG HOME. Some suggest you pack one so that your bookmarks don’t get bent and squished for the ride home.
16) ARE YOU A BLOGGER? Get business cards made. You can get them from overnightprints.com or printsmadeeasy.com, or buy the pre-made sheets at Staples and run them through your printer. Hand them to authors. Hand them out to gals waiting in lines. Network. Bloggers make our world go ’round.
17) GO VISIT AS MANY AUTHORS AS YOU CAN. Go talk to them. See what they write about. You never know – you may just find your next hidden gem or amazing book boyfriend. Not all authors get the same attention and press on social media and amazing reads go unnoticed. Just about every ebook on Kindle and iBooks have free download previews so it costs you nothing to give it a read but how do you know if you don’t go give them a chance?
18) BRING YOUR PATIENCE. Some lines for authors are long. We want to give everyone a chance to interact and share our reading/social media/your pets are adorable experiences and not just sign a book and push you along.
19) SECRET SNACKS. Toss a few snackables in your purse/bag/rolling cart to get you through the day.
20) SELFIES. The volume buttons on all iPhones take pictures. Turn the camera so you see yourself on the screen, put phone in left hand, use left thumb on buttons, position the author of your dreams on your right side and SNAP. Want the full author selfie experience? Come see me. I’ll make it memorable. ALSO, for your Samsung Galaxy users, I hear if you go through your settings you too can set your volume buttons to take photos. The rest of the android population? Check your settings. You never know.
21) MIXING BOOK SIGNINGS WITH ALCOHOL. It’s usually “girls weekend” when you go to these events so plan your partying accordingly. Too much partying Friday turns into you missing the Saturday signing altogether. It’s happened. Hotel bar drinking it ridiculously expensive. If you’re staying in the event hotel, think about Googling the local wine/beer/liquor store and buy outside to bring to your room. A bottle of wine delivered is on average $50-$70. It’s all about the part where I said “have fun.”
22) POST-IT NOTE YOUR BOOKS. If you’re bringing your own books to the signing, please consider writing your name (or if you just want the book signed but not personalized) on a sticky-note and place it on the front cover. This helps authors tremendously.
Have tips and tricks not on my list? Feel free to comment on Facebook or email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: ” Book Signing Tips.”