As I mentioned, I recently participated in my first reader event/book signing/talking to real live people book event.
I survived. Since making conversation with total strangers, let alone selling things to them, ranks somewhere after dental work on a list of things I enjoy, this wasn’t a given. But after the first hour or two, it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. Here, however, are some things I wish I had known to do.
- Bring something to cover your spot with, such as a tablecloth or fabric. The tables at this event were draped, but one white table after another is monotonous. I’m going to hit the fabric store to look for a few yards of a retro print (maybe something space aged?). I won’t even bother hemming it (not that I can sew!); just folding the fabric and having it under my books would have helped brand me and differentiate my space.
- Get your stuff off the table. I did print a flier with the Fly Me to the Moon series covers, one-sentence blurbs, and prices and put it in a cheap frame, but beyond that, my plan was to have piles of books sitting there with some little cards sprinkled around. One of my kind CRW chapter mates had some extra book stands she was nice enough to lend me, thus saving me from this fate. I will absolutely find some stands before my next event. I will also reconsider the flier design and focus on something with several large graphics and no text.
- Flip some of your books over. Because people might want to read the blurbs, use the book stands or multiple piles so that the backs are displayed too.
- Consider how people will pay you. I knew that some of the CRW members had Square Readers and were willing to share, but I didn’t consider the possibility that potential buyers might hand me cash (how would I make change?) or want to write a check (does that require me to give them my legal name so I can cash it?). If you’re planning to do a lot of reader events or signings, investigate getting a Square. And in any event, have some small bills on hand if people want to pay with cash.
- Get some swag. You will not sell a book to everyone who stops to speak with you, so bookmarks, download cards, postcards, and business cards are good things to have. Other swag is too of course: it helps make your table extra appealing and can help you sell books. (Several of my chapter mates had things like, “if you buy two books, you get X,” which was a great idea.) But paper goods are cheaper for you and easier for people to stow in their purses and bags.
- Have a pen. In the event that someone does buy one of your books, she’ll probably ask you to sign it. So make sure you have a nice pen.
I’d love to hear more about book signings and reader events you’ve attended–either as a reader or a writer. What else should I do before my next event to make it more successful?