My first book signing will be at the Ball State Campus Barnes & Noble bookstore on June 19. I hope to have a good turn out. Several people have told me they are waiting to buy their book at the signing. The signing will be held in the cafe by the food court during student orientation. Thousands of people on campus that week and they all have to eat.
I plan to take posters with the picture of my bookcover; a large poster for display and possible smaller ones to give away. I'll also have bookmarks available and possibly another give-away item or two. I'm planning to set up my laptop to show off my website and book trailer. The bookstore will distribute flyers and I'll have media coverage to announce the event.
I'm not worried at all about talking with the public--I can't wait to do that but wonder if there is anything else I should take with me or be aware of to prepare. I'd love to hear your expert suggestions.

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I've never done it, but I know several authors who swear by having a bowl of candy on the table. I'd skip the laptop, though. Asking a random stranger to sit through a book trailer is a bit much. Better to give a one or two-sentence pitch about your novel.

Here are a couple of things I've learned after doing a bunch of signings the last two years.

1) Stand up. Don't sit behind the table, creating a barrier between you and the customer. Stand in front of the table, with a pleasant look on your face, and a book or two in hand.

2) Initiate contact with the customer. Don't wait for them to talk to you. When a customer gets near, simply say, “Hello, how are you doing." Or you can try something like:

"Do you like thrillers?" (or whatever genre book is appropriate.)

"What kind of thrillers do you like?"

I typically use: "Are you looking for something good to read?"

One thing you will find if you do this is that the bookstore staff will be amazed and very supportive of your efforts as most authors just sit there. Of course, it goes without saying that you should be courteous, not rude or pushy. If the customer says no, or buzz off, don't snap back or insist.

(Also, don’t listen to those who might tell you that initiating conversation with the customer is wrong or pushy or whatever. You are in a retail store. It is totally appropriate to politely engage the customer. Retail sales people are trained to do just that. Why shouldn’t you?)

Good luck. Report back how it went.
Thanks Harry! The public doesn't scare me at all so yes, I'll be the one chatting away. You've hit the nail on the head here. I'll let you know how it goes, pictures and all. :)

BTW, love your hat!! :)
I have no expert advice but I do wish you the best of luck.

Happy Ruby
We all have our own style and learn over time what works for us. I do agree with the suggestion to leave the laptop home. I'd also be careful about overdoing the give-aways. Remember, the focus of the event is the book and the author. If you overdo the other stuff, at some point, it will take the focus away from the book rather than drawing attention to the book. One well-selected item will pull people to the signing and get them talking. For example, my current book is a minor league baseball mystery. I give away baseballs, sometimes before the signing to draw people in, and sometimes at the signing.

Good luck. And have fun.
You've gotten good advice so far, I'd only suggest making sure of what people want inscribed and how to spell names. No fun being told it's Ann with no E or Steven, but with a PH.
Any kind of mailing you can do beforehand will benefit you. If you have time, send out a postcard with the book cover art on it and invitation to the signing. And handwrite a note on the card that says, "Hope you can make it!" or something along that line. You'll be glad you did this, I can tell you from personal experience. Best wishes! You will have a blast.
Glen, funny you should mention the cards. I had cards with the book cover, website, etc., printed to announce the book launch--mailed over 200 with notes and a signatures to friends, family, colleagues (even my doctor and vet) and they loved getting them. I had planned to send some out now to announce the book signing. So many people have told me that they're waiting for the signing to buy a copy that I think it wil be a good idea.

Our public library has also committed to letting me do a talk and a signing but we haven't decided on a date yet. At least of some can't make it to this one, they might be able to come to the next.

Thank you all!!
What works for me:
In a bookstore, the best candy is something that won't end up on the store's books by kids or adults. Go for individually wrapped lifesaver mints. Do not bring chocolate, which is better for conventions.

Get a Guest Book like they have for weddings. Set it out and after your talk, announce that anyone who'd like to be on the mailing list can sign up: either e-mail, snail mail or both. (And don't forget to take it to each signing--I always forget it. Sometimes I'll ask for a pad of paper and use that in a pinch.)

The most important advice? Figure out what you're going to say now to someone who comes up, wants their book signed, and you can't remember their name, and are horrified that it's happened. Personally this works for me: How would you like your book signed? (To which they answer: To me. And you must come up with that plan B question to niggle that name from them, such as: Can you spell it out, so I don't mess it up?

Get a stack of Post It Notes, use those for anyone who wants their book signed a special way. Or ask them to write the name they want the book made out to, so you don't mess it up and spell a name wrong. Another good way to get a name if you have trouble remembering people's names.

And don't presume that everyone wants a book signed to them. I usually ask: Would you like this made out to someone, or just my name? (This is also a good one to get the name from them, unless they say: Oh, make it out to me. )

Another good method: Ask if they'd sign your Guest Book, and watch as they sign their name, (make sure you're adept at reading upside down.)

Can you tell my biggest phobia? Forgetting people's names at the most inopportune moment.
Good tips. I'm 7 months away from this, but it never hurts to be prepared! Esp. like the guest book idea. Curious, did you set up the signing yourself or did your publisher?
Hi Rosemary. I've been working on my marketing for several months so no, it's not too early to start planning. My publisher arranged to have the book reviewed by numerous people/groups here in the States as well as abroad. I know she announced its release in several different publications and sites. The first public promotion/exposure was at the London Book Fair in April. However, book signings, local press releases and the bulk of the marketing/promotions etc., are on me.

I made up flyers to send to the bookstores that included a picture of the book cover, my picture, a couple of brief quotes from my best reviews, purchasing informtion, ISBN, number of pages, price, my website, and contact information for me and my publisher. I had called the manager of this B&N to see if she would be willing to order the books, she suggested the signing. They sold out of the first order already and have ordered more.

I have an extensive list of mystery bookstores in the US and have e-mailed flyers to the owners and snail mailed those who didn't list e-mails. I'm not expecting signings from shops three states away, but at least they are (I hope) aware of the book. I need to do some follow ups. Since this is my first published book, I'm not sure what to expect, but I suspect setting up signings get easier once you have a track record (other signings, speaking engagements, sales records).

I have a discussion/signing planned at our local library, but we haven't agreed on a date yet. It's just a matter of talking with the store manager. Show him/her the book. It helps if they can look at the cover and thumb through the pages.

Best of luck with your launch!
Hi Marta,

My first book signing was actually on behalf of another author (who could not conduct her book tour due to an illness). The experience was great training for me. I did the signing at the Barnes & Noble store at Reagan International Airport, but because it wasn't my book that I was representing, I didn't get the attendant cold feet and jittery nerves of a first author's signing! Now, I'm looking forward to my own "first book signing", this October!
Thanks Kathryn,

I love meeting and talking with people so I'm more in my element in a public setting than anything else. Take a look at the blog I posted on my page to see how the signing turned out! :)

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