Book Signings And How To Be Horribly Underprepared – by A.J. Alexander…

When I was happily posting about my first book signing, a couple of weeks back, I was looking so forward to what is going to happen that I was completely unprepared. I mean, what exactly would happen? I hoped for people dropping by at my table, loving the book, buying it and I’d sign it. – Wonderful me.

Normally I am a very cautious person, and I love to go somewhere, no matter where, and be really prepared. That day I wasn’t. I didn’t have more than only a few days to get ready for that book signing, and I completely slept the preparation away. There were many other things going on as well, but that isn’t a decent excuse to be as sloppy as I was.

What did I take?

  • My books
  • A couple of business cards (me and the books)
  • Postcards
  • Some Pen
  • Tiny wing charms as giveaways 

I had planned to take a special pen that means a lot to me – and makes me feel good – but when I left the house and was on my way for half an hour, I realized I forgot it.

After my arrival at the place, I grabbed my books and my three marketing ‘things’ and tried to arrange them as nicely as possible. And then I saw the other authors unpacking, and I felt I humiliated myself.

I should have taken the time to get ready for that event, even though I had sold and signed a few of my books, I still felt I could have done so much better. I sawI could have done so much better. One of the things I felt ashamed of was the fact that I had a little bit of cash with me, but I didn’t even think of how people are going to pay for the book, I wasn’t prepared to accept anything else than cards or PayPal payments directly to my account. I could have cried. How could I forget about that?

There were other authors at that event. And they were amazing! I learned so much from them about how to get ready for book signings. After my return home, I started to prepare decently for the next one (should there ever be another one), but I just wanted to be sure and not feel again like standing naked in front of my Senior High School class.

I started by getting some ‘book stands’…. I have seen unbelievable and fantastic book stands. Considering so far I only published two books in the series; I will be fine with these for a while:

With these, I’ll be able to present my books a bit more professional, and it won’t look any more like the table of the beginner I am.

How it looked before

How it’s going to look next time

Also, I prepared a few more things:

  • A Mailing list for ‘visitors’ to subscribe and a clipboard to go with it
  • Wonderful and attractive ‘feather’ pens
  • Business card holders that they’re not just lying around on the table
  • I’ll keep the wing charms for the time being. I think they are the perfect fit for the series
  • I got a device called a ‘chip and swipe’ reader, which I can connect to my phone and which allows people to pay by credit card.

However, that’s not all. I needed seriously to think about my author branding. As much as I love my ‘Soul Taker’ cover, it can no longer serve as my logo. I need something else. I was intensely working on that and have been sending my ideas to an expert.

And I consider drafting a ‘vertical banner’ for future events and signings; something neutral that features me as an author and the current series. These things are quite costly, and I don’t feel like to replace it every few months.

I think I’m doing quite well making my next book signing a true experience and success with the feeling of being well prepared that time.

If anyone has any more ideas about what I’m missing, please let me know. I’m grateful for your advice and recommendation.


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15 thoughts on “Book Signings And How To Be Horribly Underprepared – by A.J. Alexander…

  1. Aurora, the advice bobnailor gave above is perfect. I would only add to have something besides the butterscotch/cinnamon combo. If you have any kind of food, drink, candy, etc. mentioned in your story, you can make up small packets with the image of your book cover on them to giveaway. Another author/friend of mine had individual teabags with her book cover on the outside.

    For one of my books, I had bulldog clips as giveaways (an office setting was very prominent in the story) with my logo on the flat side. And speaking of logos, I have a vinyl sign with my logo on it to hang in front of the table. You don’t need to put any of your books or themes on the banner, they’ll be displayed on the table. That way you only have to make the banner once.

    For another of my books, I made rose-topped gel pens with ink in the heroine’s favorite color and a white rose because that represented a significant part of the story. Those were given away with the purchase of the book. I also giveaway a bookmark and refrigerator magnet with the cover of the book on each to everyone who purchases a book. My bookmarks have all my information on the back for readers to get in touch with me.

    Another giveaway you might consider is a small notebook with the picture of your book or books on them. These can be purchased inexpensively, and you can run off the picture on self-stick label paper to place on the front of the notebooks. I do notebooks in various sizes because we all like to take notes.

    You can also offer a drawing for all those signing up for your newsletter/blog/website/purchasing a book. I don’t use a clipboard or notepad for this. I make up business-card-size cards with the pertinent information (name, email address, etc.) to fill out, and drop into a bowl for the drawing. The name drawn at the end of the book-signing receives a large ceramic mug with the picture of my latest release (or you could put a picture of all your books on it) filled with Hershey Kisses for the season and tied in clear gift wrap with an attractive bow. I might put some holiday pencils, small ornaments, or something appropriate to decorate it as well.

    It’s always a good idea to go to other author’s book signings where you can get a wealth of ideas. Best wishes on all future book signings, AJ.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My first book signing was the typical newbie approach – plain table cloth (it was suggested I take one), with a fan of my books, and my business cards placed in neat stacks here and there. Oh, and a small tray of what my SIL calls “suck” candy – butterscotch or cinnamon disks. Now I have simple wooden book stands for my books, large 16×20 framed images of the book covers, one large table cloth to cover the table, a smaller one to accent, battery operated fairy lights under the smaller cloth, my business cards on one nice wooden stand, a small book shelf with my ‘older’ books singly displayed. Actually, it is an adjustable book rack my son made in shop and gave to me. Surprisingly, many people will browse those books to see what might be in the stack. I keep extra copies of those under the table. I have a couple of MY pens on the table, along w/ a notepad so people can make notes. I always make sure I have at least $50 worth of $5 bills – I price my books so I don’t need a lot of change – $5, $10, $15 and a couple of old $29.95 at $20. I also have my PayPal Now to accept credit and debit cards. AND… this is the most important aspect of the whole affair if not a true book signing event like they show on TV movies – stand. Yes, stand and meet the client eye to eye. Don’t be sitting in a chair playing on your phone. At one event I attended, the author came in with his books in a backpack, put 2 out on the table, sat in one chair, kicked his feet up on the extra chair, played on his phone, 3 hours later when the event ended, he packed up his two books. I tried to interact with him by asking how sales was going – he shrugged and said, “The people aren’t interested in my book.” and went back to playing on his phone. I walked away. I did a 4 day event – from 9am to 9pm and I basically stood the whole time – I did great sales. Interact with the people at the event and they’ll interact with you. Sit like a bump on a log and well, nothing will happen. Good luck. Oh, and BTW, butterscotch and cinnamon is a strange combination of flavors when put together – some like it, others don’t, but always offer them a try. LOL.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you so very much for your comment. This is amazing advice I am going to take with me to my next book signing! (Should there ever be another one, that is.) I really appreciate your time and efforts to inform us about your experiences and I’ll take them with me! This is great!

      Liked by 2 people


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