What to Expect at Your 1st Book Signing Event as an Author!

 You’ve poured your heart and soul into your book(s), hit the publish button, and done your best to get your name and titles out there to readers. Congratulations! Now, you’ve signed up for your first author event, and the panicking has started. How do I prepare? What should I have on my table? How many books do I order? How do I get readers to stop at my table? Where do I get banners, swag, displays? Oh, my!

Yes, the questions are endless, but I’ll try to answer as many of them as possible. This is my second year of signing at book events (well over a dozen of them) and there have been good and not-so-good ones among them. I’ve learned something new at each event and hope I can help inexperienced authors avoid some pitfalls.

First things first. You will not, let me repeat that, NOT come out “in the black” at the closing of an event, meaning you’ll be shelling out more money for the weekend than you’ll be taking in. So why bother doing one? Aside from the fun, do it for the exposure and networking opportunities. With every new show I do, my reader base grows and I become friends with more authors, models, bloggers, etc. Those connections also broaden my reach to new readers.  

Finding the right signing for your genre:

The three biggest genre signings fall into the romance, sci-fi, and fantasy categories. Since I’m a romance/suspense author, that is what my suggestions and information are based upon.

One of the best ways to find out what events are looking for authors to attend over the next two or three years is to stay active in the book community on social media, especially Facebook. There are several groups where event organizers can list their upcoming events. You can also search for “book signing” or “author event” on Facebook and get a list of individual groups/pages for specific events. Keep in mind, many of these fill up quickly with attending authors at least 1-2 years in advance. If there’s a signing you’re interested in but it’s currently full, ask to be put on a waiting list. Authors have to back out of events all the time for one reason or another. 

Author Events Around the World

Author Events and Support

Events, Inc: Author Signings and Events Listing for Authors

Authors Connecting for Events & Signings

Author and Reader Events in the DMV (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia region)

Author Signings and Events in the Midwest

Author & Book Events

Book Signing Events for Author, Readers and Bloggers

Romance Book Signing Events

UK Book Signing Events

UK Book Signings / Events

Australian Book Signings Events

FL Book Events & Signings

Things to take in consideration before submitting an interest form to become a signing author at an event:

  • Is it an established event or is this the first year it’s being held? Just because it’s been held before, doesn’t mean it will be a successful event, nor will a new event be unsuccessful. I’ve attended events that turned out to be the opposite in both instances.
  • If it’s an event that’s in its second year or more, find out which authors and readers have attended it in the past. Ask them if they thought it was a success from both perspectives (and don’t just take one person’s word for it). Was it merely a signing, where the authors sat at their tables for a few hours on a Saturday, signing books, and that was the end of it? Or was it a full-on event with parties and activities throughout the entire weekend when authors and readers mingled and had some fun?
  • Is the event within driving distance for you or will you have to fly there? 

Questions you should ask before committing to an event: 

SaSS#18
  • Who is running the event? Are they an author, blogger, reader, experienced event planner?
  • What advertising are they planning on doing to promote the event to readers?
  • How many reader tickets will be available?
  • Will there be VIP tickets available? How many? What does the VIP ticket include?
  • Have the organizers attended a bunch of events before and spoken to other organizers for advice on how to properly plan the event?
  • Where is it being held? Hotel or convention center without a hotel attached?
  • What is the parking situation? Will you have to pay for parking? Is there easy access for you to get all your stuff from the parking lot to where the event is being held inside the venue?
  • Will the event be inside a venue or outside under a tent?
  • What will the hotel cost? As an author, will you be required to stay at the hotel?
  • How much is the table fee for you to attend as a signing author? What size is the table? Can you share the table with another author to cut down on the expense?
  • How much will it cost for you to bring an assistant or model? If you don’t have an assistant, will volunteers be available to help you if needed?
  • Are there any restrictions to what you can and can’t bring with you?
  • Are tablecloths included or do you have to bring your own? What color is the tablecloth?
  • Are the additional parties, author panels, and other events included in the price of the table or are they a separate cost?
  • Is breakfast and/or lunch included?
  • What is the cancellation policy if you have to back out for any reason? Please note that deposit fees are typically non-refundable, and after a certain date, all table fees will be non-refundable if there is no author to replace your spot. Fees may be transferrable to another author with permission of the organizer.
  • Will there be raffles held for author donated items? Is it required that you donate one?
  • Is a charity being supported by the event? What money will be going to the charity—all proceeds beyond what it cost to run the event or money raised through such things as the raffles, shirt sales, donations, etc.?
  • Can the organizers provide proof of a solid contract with the venue?
  • Will there be VIP and General Admission event bags? Can you donate some swag for the bags? How many will there be?

You’ve found an event you’d like to attend and have received an invitation to join them. Now what? 

SaSS#18
  • Join the event’s FB groups. Usually they have one for authors only and one for authors and attendees.
  • When does your invoice have to be paid? Can you pay in installments?
  • When will your name be added to the event banner on social media? As soon as you sign up, after you put a deposit on the table, or after you’ve paid the invoice in full?
  • Book your hotel room as soon as the group rate link is posted. Do not wait until the last minute as you may end up having to use another hotel and schlep back and forth during the event. Most hotels do not charge you until the actual stay and you can usually cancel up to 24-48 hours before the event.
  • Choose whether you want a full or half table.
  • Plan your transportation.
  • Announce your plans to attend the signing on your social media sites, especially on your FB author page and website and in your reader group if you have one. Provide a link to the event’s FB group and/or page/website. Ask in your reader group if anyone is interested in being your assistant for the day. (More on this below.)
  • Set up a pre-order form and put it in the event’s attendee group on Facebook. This will help you figure out how many books you need to order prior to the event. Check the order form often and send out invoices so they are paid in advance. Depending on the event and your reader base, you may have a lot of preorders or you may not have any. If it’s the latter, don’t get discouraged. My preorder volume fluctuates from signing to signing.
  • Start posting your book promotions in the FB attendee group. Do so on a regular basis, but not every day until the event draws closer. When you find out your table number, announce it in the group. 
  • Sign up to takeover the FB attendee group for a day or less if the event organizers allow it. They may have a schedule where you can sign up for multiple dates. This is especially good if there are several months before the signing, so readers can get to know you before the event.
  • Many of the romance genre signings take place in large, chain hotels, such as Hilton, Sheraton, and Marriott. Sign up for their frequent guest program.
  • Keep a log of ALL expenses you incur and all sales. You’ll need them at tax time.

What do you need to order before the event? Not everything on the list is necessary. For your first event, go with what you can afford to get, then check out everyone else’s tables to figure out what you want to add to your display in the future. 

My original banners.
  1. A retractable banner. These come in different styles and sizes. Some can sit on tabletops while others are set on the floor. I recommend a floor stand as it won’t take up valuable space on your table. If you only have a few books out and have extra room on your table, then that might work well for you. I highly suggest you have someone design the banner for you if you’re not good with graphics. Ask in author groups for people to post theirs to get ideas on how you should design yours. I don’t recommend putting your book covers on the banner unless you plan on updating it with every new release or two. Also, avoid making the links to your social media sites a major part of the banner. It’s highly unlikely a reader will remember the links or take a photo of them. You can put them on there if you want or just the social media icons to show where they can find you. Make sure your name is at the top of the banner where people can see it from across the room. I made that mistake with my first banner—I had it in the middle and several readers passed me by because they didn’t see it and didn’t recognize me. Thankfully they came back around looking for me. Here are customized banner sites that are recommended by other authors:
    • Build-A-Sign—One of the most recommended, and I’ve gotten 3 banners from them. One broke the second time I used it, and customer service was great. They sent me a replacement. There’s always sales going on.
    • Vistaprint now makes retractable banners and often runs sales.
    • Banners on the Cheap
    • Vispronet
  2. A tablecloth/table skirt—not all venues supply these or they only supply them in black or white. I have an 8 foot black tablecloth and table skirt in case they aren’t supplied by the venue. Some have 6-foot tables, while others have 8-foot tables, so I’m covered either way.
  3. A screen-print table cover. I have one of these in addition to my retractable banner. It’s coming in handy at a show next month were space is limited so they aren’t allowing floor banners. (I’ve only purchased from 4 Imprint, but there are a lot of companies out there.)
  4. Folding wire book rack if you have multiple titles. This keeps them neatly displayed and saves you room (a big plus if you’re sharing table or they’re only 6 feet in length).
  5. Display easels for individual books.
  6. Collapsible shelving units. Author Maryann Jordan had these at the second big event I’d attended. I loved them and immediately went home and purchased them through Amazon. You can also find them in Home Depot. They fit in a suitcase, and she even took them to England with her for a signing. Almost every show I go to now, other authors comment on them because the shelves give me more display room.
  7. Collapsible utility wagonthese are great for getting your stuff from the car or hotel room to where you’ll be setting up. With high attendance, you may not always be able to get a valet cart when you need one.
  8. Rolling makeup/cosmetic case. This is another idea I got from an author at a signing. I love how I can neatly store all my small items and swag in it and can access them quickly during a show. Make sure it comes with a lock in case you need to leave it unattended.
  9. Plastic storage totes. Some come on rollers.
  10. PayPal or other site’s credit/debit card payment device so you can accept them at your table. You can order them directly from the site. Make sure you set it all up on your phone or tablet and make sure it works before the day of the show.
  11. Portable, cordless, DVD player. I started bringing this to shows and a lot of other authors loved the idea. I burn a CD with video trailers, teasers, and banners and let it play throughout the show. I also picked up a rechargeable power bank (about $75) in case I’m not near a plug. The DVD player gets about 2-3 hours on a charge. The power bank gives me another 4-5 hours of play time. It also helps if your table ends up nowhere near an electrical plug.
  12. Pens and sharpies to sign with (you’ll want a few of both). Test them to make sure they don’t bleed through the pages of the book.
  13. Holders and/or bowls to put candy, bookmarks, business cards, and other little free items in on your table. I experimented with a few before I found little collapsible, square, fabric boxes that didn’t take up much room in my carry case or on my table.
  14. Decorations for the table—colored stones, tiny lights, or anything to dress it up. Don’t go crazy though and do NOT use party glitter. It’s a b*tch to clean up and many venues don’t allow it.
  15. Some sort of “gimmick” to get people to your table. (Note, this should not replace you interacting with the attendees and should not be relied upon as the only way to get people to stop by your table—many authors don’t use an artificial draw to their table.) Currently, I put a large card in the event bags with my logo and social media links on it. It tells readers to come to my table and roll a pair of large dice. If they get doubles, they get their pick of special swag that I can’t afford to just hand out — mugs, mouse pads, tote bags, etc. Another one I do is all book purchasers get to pull a lollipop out of a display and if they get the one with the colored tip they win an Amazon gift card and a blanket with my logo on it. It’s usually 2-3 shows between winners. Here are some ideas from some other authors:
    • Some sort of fun “party” game or carnival-type game. (Nothing too big that it takes up too much room.)
    • A funny display that will catch the eye of those walking past. 
    • Do a giveaway in the event’s attendee group on FB and have the winner(s) come to your table to get their prize.
    • Fill a container with M&Ms, Skittles, or anything else and have attendees guess the amount. Closest wins a prize—special swag, signed books, complete signed set of books, book site gift card, etc.
    • Have a raffle basket that readers can enter their names for and extra chances can be earned with book purchases.
    • Alcohol—make sure the venue doesn’t have a policy against this. You can’t sell it, but I’ve seen a lot of authors give away little sample bottles. Others have made Jello®-shots or alcohol infused chocolates, candies, or food.
    • Wear something different or funny that makes people stop and laugh or admire it.
  16. Find out if there will be a raffle during the event that you can donate a basket to. Some authors also do a raffle at their table. Go to a dollar store and find something you can use as a basket. They usually have the shrink wrap bags available there too, along with ribbons, bows, and shredded tissue paper. Ideas for what to put in the baskets include, but aren’t limited to:
    • Signed books
    • Special swag – tote bags, mugs, wine glasses, etc. (Don’t include shirts unless the winner can swap it for a different size.)
    • Bottle of wine
    • Items that go with your genre or book trope. (Sometimes I put a vibrator, furry handcuffs, and other naughty stuff in mine.)
  17. A tablet for your PayPal device if you don’t want to use your phone.
  18. Swag (see below)
  19. Books for signing (see below)

Before you leave for the show, you’ll want to go through everything and make sure you’re not missing anything. 

  • Are your books properly packed so they won’t get damaged en route?
  • Do you have all your swag, payment device, and business cards?
  • Do you have cash on hand to make change at the table? I usually bring $60 in ones, fives, and tens and put them in a money envelope that I can store in the locked makeup case I mentioned above.
  • If you use a pen name, have you practiced your signature??? You want to be very comfortable signing it before the show.
  • Do you have everything you need for a donated basket?
  • Will everything fit on your table? If you’ve never done a show before, I recommend you set up your display on your dining room table so you can figure out how you want it to look. If you don’t have a large enough table, measure out the table size on the floor. You don’t want the day of the signing to be when you realize it doesn’t all fit or you have plenty of extra space you don’t know what to do with.
  • Do you have your phone charger? I recommend bringing a small, cell phone rechargeable bank. I’ve gotten a few of them with purses and wallets. Charge it the night before and bring it with you, especially if you’ll be using your phone to process PayPal sales.
  • Have a sign ready with your prices on it and if you accept debit/credit cards (which again, I highly recommend.). Decide if you’ll give a discount to anyone who buys multiple books. (I take $1 off each book if they buy 3 or more.)
  • Do you have everything you need for events being held over the weekend besides the actual signing? A lot of organizers throw theme parties so make sure you have something appropriate to wear.
  • Do you know how to set up your banner, display, and shelving units? Don’t wait until the day of the show to find out!
  • Do you have a list of quotes you plan to use when signing your books? (Suggestions below).
  • Do you know what table you’ll be assigned to? Who are your neighbors? Reach out to them in the event’s author group and get to know them a little before the event.

The night before and morning of the show! 

Authors DD Lorenzo and Lydia Michaels at SaSS#18
Credit: Ivone Santos
  • One question I hear a lot of newer authors ask is “what should I wear to the signing?” The response most give is “anything you want!” Just make sure it’s comfortable. Make sure your shoes are comfortable, you’ll be on your feet a lot. If a dress is your style, go for it. If jeans and a T-shirt is more your thing, that’s fine too. Whatever you wear, you’ll be in it for hours.
  • Some shows will be able to let you set up your table the night before, while others you’ll have to wait until the morning of the show. Either way, you’ll have plenty of time so don’t feel you have to rush. (Another reason I suggest doing a practice display before the show.)
  • Make sure all your devices are charged and you have the chargers if needed.
  • Try to reduce the amount of clutter behind your table. You don’t want to be tripping over it.
  • Log into the venue’s internet access before the show starts. You’ll need it for your payment devices. Most organizers get the router name and password from the venue. Sometimes the wi-fi I received with my room works in the ballroom of some hotels, while other times it’s a stronger signal if I sign into the ballroom’s router.
  • Make sure you have room to get from behind to in front of the table easily during the show. I’m constantly moving back and forth to greet people and take photos with them, then sign some books.
  • One thing I do if I’m setting up the morning of the show and I’m staying at the venue is I wash my hair and let it air dry while I’m setting up. It’s usually still damp enough when I get back upstairs to dry and style quickly. I also wear sweats and a T-shirt to set up, since I can get hot with everything involved. I put on my makeup and change into whatever I’m going to wear for the signing after I’m all set up.
  • Most organizers will want a group author photo about ½ hour before the doors open to the attendees, so make sure you work that into your setup schedule.
  • Once you’re set up, take a few minutes to walk around and introduce yourself to other authors if you still have time, especially if you recognize them from social media. Look at everyone else’s displays for different ideas for future shows. Most authors don’t mind sharing their ideas unless they’re truly unique to their books/series. My display is constantly evolving.
  • If you have an assistant for the show, now is the time (if you haven’t already done so) to make sure they know what you expect them to do during the show. Mine are in charge of handing me the books a reader wants me to sign and keeping track of my pre-orders which I have sorted out before the show. I show them how to use the PayPal device to process the sales in case I get very busy. My assistant helps with the special swag, contests, and refilling things that need it on the table—candy, small swag that’s free to take, etc.—and anything else I need help with.

****Another note on assistants. I list all my signings in my reader group and ask for volunteers to be my assistant for the day. For almost every event, this is how I’ve acquired my assistants. I pay for their attendance, as required by the individual event organizers, and any meal during the actual signing, and I also give them an Amazon gift card as a thank you for helping me. I prefer this over asking a friend or family member or asking for an assistant through the event organizers because my readers are so passionate about my books. When they start chatting with attendees standing in line to talk to me, I think they make more cold sales than I do to people who haven’t read any of my books yet. It also gives them a chance to really get to know me as a person and not just an author, and it gives me a chance to get to know them better too.

You’re all set up and the doors are about to open! 

Author Elizabeth SaFleur at SaSS#18
Credit: Eric Battershell Photography
  • Take a deep breath—I promise it’s going to be fun!
  • Put your phone away. Nothing annoys attendees more than an author sitting there on their phone, either talking or doing something else, and they’ll walk right on by. (If you need to keep it near you for PayPal or emergency calls, then at least keep it out of sight.)
  • Put on a big smile and try to swallow your shyness. It’s time to promote yourself (and not just your books).
  • Step out from behind your table and greet people as they walk by. Comment on their funny shirt or cute shoes. Hand them a business card, candy, or a piece of printed swag (I have word search cards that have to do with one of my series). Ask them questions about THEM. Don’t make it all about your books. I’ve sold many books to attendees just because I chatted with them for a while before they asked what genre books I wrote.
  • Ask them to enter your contest or play a game at your table.
  • Ask them to sign up for your newsletter. (With the new UK rules, which might end up coming to the US and other countries soon, you may want to go about this a different way than just having a signup sheet. Maybe use a QR code that they can scan and then enter their email address so you have a digital record of them actually signing up to receive your newsletter.)
  • If an attendee asks for a photo with you, try to take it with your banner in the background. Also ask them to tag you if they post it on FB or Instagram.

Actually signing a book!

  1. Have that list of quotes you want to use when signing nearby (but out of view of the attendees) because your mind will suddenly go blank at the worst possible time. Common ones or ones I’ve seen suggested in author groups are:
    Author DD Lorenzo at SaSS#18 pre-party signing event anthology.
    Credit: Eric Battershell Photography
    • Happy Reading! 
    • Best Wishes!
    • Wishing you the best!
    • Reach for the stars!
    • Enjoy!
    • Live, laugh, love!
    • Thanks for your support!
    • Thanks for loving my stories!
    • Hope all your dreams come true!
    • Enjoy the magic!
    • Enjoy the ride!
    • Never stop reading or dreaming!
    • A quote from the book itself or something that goes with the trope. For my book Whiskey Tribute I write “Cheers!” For another book, I write a quote from it—“Sometimes life gives you what you never knew you wanted!” Another book is titled The Road to Solace so I write “May you always be on the road to happiness!”
    • Something that sounds like what your character would say to the reader.
  2. Ask the person to confirm the name they want the book addressed to AND the spelling! Don’t assume anything. Nowadays there are so many different ways to spell common names—Mary vs. Mari, Jane vs. Jayne, Steven vs. Stephen. They also may want you to address it to someone else or nobody at all. Some bloggers like to do giveaways with signed books they’ve bought at shows. (I’ve had bloggers give me their cards, then purchase two copies of the same book—one for themselves and one to giveaway in their blogging group. Sometimes I’ll give them the second book free and address it to their group’s readers.)
  3. Make sure you sign the right name! Pause for a brief moment before signing your name if you’re still getting used to your pen name.
  4. Some authors add the date or the name/year of the signing. There’s no right or wrong way to sign. Do what’s comfortable for you.

Winding up the day! 

Attendees of SaSS#18 having a blast!
Credit: Eric Battershell Photography
  • Close out your raffles. 
  • Put your cash bag somewhere safe where it won’t get lost in the cleanup.
  • Don’t start breaking down your display if you see some attendees still working their way down your row. They’ll pass right by you.
  • Make sure you have everything before leaving.
  • Thank your assistant for all their help.
  • Leave a few books out if you plan on signing them and hiding them around the hotel. I do this, as do a lot of other authors. Most of the time, I put them in and around the lobby either late at night or very early the next morning, but you can do it right after the show if no one’s watching you hide them. (Let the reservation desk or concierge know you’re doing this! I had a cleaning woman pick them up less than a minute after I put them down and hand them to the desk. I went and got them back, explaining what I was doing and that they wouldn’t be there long!) Go into the event attendee group and announce that you’ve hidden your books. If they are really spread throughout the hotel, I take pictures as hints and post them. The readers love this and you might just gain a few new readers out of it.
  • Go and relax, then get ready for the after party if there is one! 

Other things I suggest you also consider about signings:

SaSS#18 Group Author Photo
Credit: Eric Battershell Photography
  • Whether or not you want to bring along a model. This is a huge expense that many authors refuse to spend money on, while others like doing it. They’ll bring along a model who is on one or more of their covers as a draw to their table. You’ll usually have to pay for the model to attend (both to the organizers and the model themselves) and depending on the model, they may require you to pay some or all of their travel expenses. It’s up to you if you think it’s worth doing.
  • Don’t go crazy with expensive displays and/or swag. Focus on the less expensive stuff that won’t cost you a fortune to giveaway.
  • Don’t drink alcohol during the signing if you think you’ll get carried away with it. There have been fiascos in the past where alcohol played a huge factor and the results were plastered all over social media.
  • If you’ve had trouble with another author in the past, quietly let the organizers know you’d rather not have your table near them. Don’t make a big deal about it, but let them know you’d be more comfortable on the other side of the room. Most organizers will appreciate your attempt to reduce any chance of drama.
  • If you’re unsure of anything, ask questions before you get to the show. Shoot the organizers a PM or email or post it in the event’s author group.
  • Keep your displays “clean,” in other words “family friendly.” There may not be any kids in attendance but many times there are. (Check with the organizers if you’re not sure if kids will be allowed.) You don’t have to hide the penis lollipops if they’re not overtly noticeable, but keep some kid-friendly lollipops on hand. Don’t have a dildo front and center on your table, but keep it partially hidden in a raffle basket. If you have alcoholic treats, put aside a few non-alcoholic ones just in case.
  • If you’ve written a children’s book, but you’re mostly a romance or fantasy author, don’t leave them behind. I sell a lot of my children’s book under another pen name at shows. Attendees love being able to bring home a signed book to the kiddies who love receiving them just as much.
  • If you’re flying, carry your banner on the plane. Many airlines don’t count it toward your 2 allowed carry-ons. If they do, they can check it at the gate and put it in the hold with the baby carriages and car seats. Just let them know it’s aluminum and can be crushed under other items. I haven’t had an issue either way so far and I’ve brought it on many planes.
  • Some signings also have author-oriented events such as panels. Experienced authors will give talks on subjects that have to do with the self-publishing business. These are usually opened to both readers and other authors. Plan on attending if you can. 

Swag

There are two types of swag—relatively inexpensive swag that attendees can pick up from your table and walk away with and the more expensive swag you’ll want to limit and maybe use as prizes or a purchase thank you. They should all have, at least, your name, logo, and website on them. If you can get more of your social media information on them, then do it. Let’s start with the first one. 

The most common “free” swag items attendees like to snatch up are: 

Author Lisa B. Kamps setup at SaSS#18
  • Pens
  • Paper swag – postcards, bookmarks, notepads, etc.
  • Magnets
  • Buttons
  • Keychains
  • Stickers/temporary tattoos
  • Rubber bracelets
  • Book charms
  • Lip balm
  • Mint tins or packages
  • Can/bottle koozie (insulated sleeve)
  • Plastic tumblers
  • Stress balls
  • Other cute stuff that has to do with the theme of the author’s books (If it’s something you can’t customize then attach your business card to it somehow)
  • Something unique no one else has.

More expensive, limited items may include the following. You can also make them available for purchase.

  • T-shirts
  • Sweatshirts
  • Canvas tote bags
  • Posters
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Craft items made from the pages of books that have been damaged and rendered unsellable 
  • Handmade bookmarks or keychains 
  • Mousepads
  • Charm bracelets/necklaces or other types of jewelry 
  • Wine glasses
  • Shot glasses
  • Makeup bags
  • Phone covers
  • E-reader sleeves
  • Plastic water bottle or jug
  • Throw pillow or blanket
  • USB drive with exclusive content – stories you can’t get anywhere else
  • Customized fun items like a Rubik’s cube or Magic 8 Ball
  • Limited edition boxed sets of books
  • Journal
  • Candles
  • Something unique you find that works well with your books/series

Where do you get your swag?

There are so many answers for this. The following are suggestions from authors who have attended signings in the past; however, this is the tip of the iceberg. You might get a great deal on some items on one site but another site has a better deal on other items. Search Etsy and Facebook for swag designers for special swag. For the more common items, check out sites like these (there are plenty more out there but these are ones that are suggested often) and try to wait for sales:

Books for the Signing

How do you know how many books to bring? You don’t. I’ve been at shows where one title sold out, and at the next show, not one book of that title was sold, but others went. This is where pre-orders come in handy. For the impulse buys, make sure you have extra copies of your standalone books and the first book in your series. Those will be impulse buys for someone who has never heard of you but got interested in your books because of the interaction you had with them.

If you run out of a title, then offer to ship the book to them. It’s up to you if you want to charge for shipping. I don’t because usually those who take me up on the offer order more than one book.

Make sure you order well in advance. Don’t spend extra money on expedited shipping from Createspace. They’re notorious for getting the books to the author AFTER the event.

If you have an assistant who is close to a signing you’ll be flying into, consider asking them if you can ship the books direct to them. You may also be able to ship to the organizers. Check with the hotel before trying to ship direct to them. Many have time limits on how many days they’ll hold your deliveries before shipping them back to the sender. Some also charge you to hold the items. (I went to one signing that had a FEDEX store in the hotel, and they charged per day to hold any boxes.)

Wrap it up! 

SaSS#18
Credit: Eric Battershell

So that’s the lowdown on book signings. The most important thing is to stay calm and have fun. If something (like your books) doesn’t arrive in time, don’t panic. It happened to me with my books, but thankfully I had some on hand (just not all my titles). It is what it is. You can still network and meet new readers. Offer a free e-book through Bookfunnel or a QR code. Hand out your free swag. You’ll survive, I promise.

Remember to make yourself approachable. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a lone author sitting behind their table, playing on their phone, glancing at the clock, and clearly wondering why no one is stopping at their table. If you don’t appear approachable, the attendees will walk right by you.

If you had a successful event, find out if there will be another the following year and consider signing up for it early.  If it was a so-so event, don’t give up. Look for different events to attend the next time.

There are a few topics I didn’t mention or go into a lot of detail about, such as sponsorships and event anthologies, since you’ll want to get a number of events under your belt before looking into them. 

As always, these are all suggestions. Do what works for you and remember you will probably not recover the costs of attending the signing AT the signing, but hopefully you’ll gain new readers, who will recommend your books and become lifelong fans, and many new friends.

*Disclosure—some of the items above contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

**I have no association, other than possibly being a customer, to any of the other business links provided in this article. I am not reimbursed in any way for recommending their sites. 

***Images from SaSS#18 (Sexy and Sassy Signing in Norfolk, VA) used with permission from photographer or indviduals in photo and can be found on social media.

3 thoughts on “What to Expect at Your 1st Book Signing Event as an Author!

    • Samantha Samantha says:

      Hi! A QR code is similar to a barcode on products. The difference being you can put the QR code anywhere. I have a sign for my table at signings that has a large code on it (it looks like a funny square maze) that people can scan with their smartphones (with a free app). Once they scan it, their phone will open their internet app and take them right to the url I linked to the QR code – it’s currently set to the first book in my series which is 99c. You can link it to any URL – your website, your Amazon page, a book’s purchase page, somewhere for them to download a free book, or even a landing page for people to sign up for your newsletter. Instead of making someone type in your URL in their phone, it just takes one click and they’re on your site. To get them, just “Google Free QR codes”. There are plenty of sites out there that offer them. Then download your code and print it on swag or a page to display. I hope that helps!

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