My second novel is currently with Sue Miller for copy editing, and it will eventually be turned into a paperback. Alongside book one of the Mineran Series, which I originally and regrettably only released as an E-book.
As Sue has mentioned on several occasions that I will be expected to perform book signings and attend events as an author to promote my Sci-Fi series, I thought it prudent to research etiquette at such events. Having spoken to a plethora of writers on the subject, attended many such signings and utilised Google, I came up with my own checklist.
I feel, that whilst this list may not be the definitive Bible on author signings, it may prove useful to other authors.
Many authors commented that having a PR buddy there to assist and promote you while you are signing is desirable.
- Do not use your cheque signature! Create an author signature and practice it.
- Do not use black ink as the page you are signing already contains black text. Your message needs to stand out.
- It is recommended to use a high-quality pen as it will make you feel more confident. Use quick-drying inks and always take several backup pens.
- Create several little phrases that you can write, such as:
All my best
To your health
- In the first month of your launch add the date, this adds value to the book if you become famous.
- When you are not physically signing books, do not stay seated behind the table; you need to appear approachable by standing at the front. Shake hands with every visitor and if they do not wish to purchase a book at that time, sign and give them one of your bookmarks. Always use a Sharpie to sign the bookmark as they are often shiny. This small friendly gesture produces sales.
- After a signing ask the customer if they want to have a photo taken of the two of you. Your PR buddy can perform this with the customer’s phone / camera.
- Having a bench, instead of a chair will prevent those awkward photos where the client is squatting beside you (or stand together)
- Ask the shop manager if they will allow you to have a stack of books by the till for impulse purchases.
- People’s naming conventions are becoming more diverse; they may not spell their name how you think it should be. Always ask and have a pad nearby so they can spell it out if you are unsure. For example, Tracy can also be spelt like; Tracee, Traceigh, Tracey, Traci, Tracie, Trasee, Traseigh, Trasi, Trasie and Trasy.
- Keep a bottle of water handy.
- Take your own camera and have a photo taken with the store manager and any other authors present. These can be used for social media marketing after the event and in the future.
- Ask your PR buddy to take some photos of you signing the books – you should have some posed and unposed ones. You can use these on your social media.
Marketing and Branding
- You need a branded pop-up banner. Ensure that any photographs that are taken of you signing, shaking hands, or handing over the books are taken with this banner prominently in the background. These photos will be posted on the social media sites, also your website address on the banner needs to be visible and readable in the photo. These pop-up banners are surprisingly cheap.
- You should also have branded bookmarks that contain your book cover, website address, ISBN, details of the book and have a space to sign.
- Purchase a few individual acrylic book stands to present your books. You spent a lot of time and effort creating the perfect book cover, so display it prominently.
- Have an acrylic stand displaying an A4 promotional leaflet. It should contain information about the book, the book cover, reviews and a small bio. Place a bowl of wrapped sweets in front of this, as people will read your information as they unwrap the sweets.
- Always carry branded author business cards with you at all times.
- If you utilise a newsletter, collect email addresses with a sign-in sheet.
- Stay longer than advertised and after the event always post a hand-written thank you letter to the shop manager. If the shop belongs to a chain, then send a letter to the area manager saying how wonderful the store was. Start building your relationship with the store.
- Your social media profile addresses should be clearly displayed. Do not just print an icon indicating you are on certain social media sites.
- When people mention you in their social media posts, you need to share, like and retweet these. Otherwise, your followers will not see what has been posted.
P N Burrows
Author of the Mineran Series