1. Bring sunscreen! This event was outdoors but it was October in Pennsylvania. I brought a blanket for goodness sake! But you should see my face. Pitiful. I'm going to tell everyone my husband whisked me off to some tropical island. In addition to sunscreen bring whatever else you'll need to be comfy. Venues can usually be relied upon to provide a table and chair(not always--ask) but there a few other things you should pack in your book signing kit.
- Water. Chatting with people can dry your mouth out quickly.
- Clothes. OK, I'm guessing you don't go our naked(do you?)but you never know about a venue's favorite temperature. I start out with a t-shirt, followed by a sweater, followed by a blazer so I can add or subtract layers depending on if I end up in Siberia or the Gobi Desert.
- Pens. Big fat, don't-make-my-hand-cramp-up pens. I've seen authors with quirky pens that match their books...shaped like bones, quills, needles...you know they regretted that after signing a few books.
2. A nametag. OK, no one wants to wear one of those nerdy white "My name is..." tags. But it doesn't hurt to have something that tells people you aren't hear searching for the latest Nicholas Sparks book or soliciting donations for the Salvation Army. I have a pin that says "Ask me about my book." How about a tie with a book pattern? If you don't want to wear something, carry a copy of your book as you wander about the bookstore.
3. Your legs. Don't overlook your legs as an important selling tool. Don't laugh! I know what you're thinking. Focus! I'm talking about getting out from behind your little card table and wandering around the venue or at least standing next to your table. It seems some people are intimidated by walking up and chatting with someone sitting behind a table. Does it bring flashbacks of bosses or school principals? I just don't know. But they just seem more chatty when you're up and about.
4. Your friend. Book signings are scary. What if no one comes? What if you're just sitting behind your sad little card table, alone? It's tempting to bring a friend, a buffer from looking like such a loser. Don't. People won't come up to talk to the author if you're chatting with your friend--no one wants to be that third wheel.
5. Have a hook about why they should buy your book today, or at least very soon. One of my books was about baseball so I talked about the World Series being just around the corner, the Phillies making it to the play-offs. People started talking about how much they(or someone they love)loves baseball and before you know it...Boom, they had to have this book. You can talk about it being a great book for their next trip to the beach, curling up indoors away from the snow with a good book, gift giving holidays fast approaching. I'm already in the "Add it to your Christmas list" mode.
6. An icebreaker. Most people won't come up to you so you have to grab them as they walk by you. Questions are best. Are you enjoying the event? What types of books do you like to read? Most people feel not answering would be rude...and you can draw them into a conversation and maybe a sale.