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I had a couple of book signings over the weekend and I have to say, I had a wonderful time. I met up with a few friends I hadn’t seen in a while and I also met a few new friends!
I had a sweet little man come up to my table and just stand there for a moment, as if he was too shy to speak. When I smiled up at him, he leaned over and said, “I just wanted you to know, I listened to Dangerous Connections book on CD six times.” Then he turned and walked away. I have to say, that was one of the highlights of the book signings for me. He loved it enough to listen to it SIX TIMES!
I also met up with a friend who is secretly writing a manuscript. He’s been working on it for a long time and I want to shout it to the world for him because I think it’s a wonderful thing, but I also understand a writer’s insecurity because I feel it myself all the time.
So there I was, signing my books, chatting with customers, recommending other books that I enjoy and just all around having a good time. I know there are authors who don’t enjoy book signings, but I love them. I have met so many wonderful people, heard their reading stories, and a lot of times I’ve heard about their hopes and dreams and got to know them a little bit.
For me, book signings are a perk of being a published author and one that I completely enjoy. So if I saw you on Saturday, and talked with you, thank you for coming over to my table to chat. It was something wonderful, that I won’t soon forget!
If you are a new author who is about to have their first book signings, here are my best tips:
Bring a bowl of candy. For some reason, having a candy there relaxes people, keeps things casual, and draws customers to your table.
Be friendly. Don't be shy. You don't have to talk about your books necessarily, but you can ask them who their favorite authors are, or if you can help them find something. If you just sit behind your table all night without saying anything, well, it's just awkward for everyone. Also, you will be asked about a hundred times what your book is about. Practice that beforehand a bit, so you don't stumble and sound tongue-tied.
Always ask how to spell someone's name. There are a lot of variations out there on every name imaginable. You don't want to spell it wrong when you are signing their book. Some authors have them write it down on a piece of paper.
Get to know the staff. The staff is your greatest ally. They can help introduce you to customers and they can help sell your books after you are long gone. Making a good impression on them is vital.
Have fun. Don't take yourself too seriously. Getting your name out there is a process and it doesn't happen overnight. Having fun with it all makes things a lot easier.
That has to be one of my worst nightmares yet to come, Julie. I'm beyond shy. Oddly enough, though, when I'm serving others, my shyness slips away and I'm totally different. I crack jokes and tease people, trying to make them laugh. I went to a friends 50th wedding anniversary party Friday night held at our Church's cultural hall, and their precious daughter was trying to do everything from filling platters to cutting cake, and I went into the kitchen to toss my pretty color-coordinated plate into the trash and saw her frantically moving from one thing to another, and I asked if she could use an extra set of hands. From the look on her face you would've thought I'd just told her she'd won the Publisher's Clearing House. I wonder now if book signing might be a little like that--slipping into a different persona while your inner-self is hiding, curled up in a little ball behind the bed of your subconscious.
@Deb—didn't we meet at Storymakers '09? You weren't shy then!
Julie, I am kicking myself. I meant to come see you and I totally spaced it! Ugh!
Deb, I'm like that, too. I'm actually a very shy person, but when you get me talking about books I've read, or my own books, I'm just a whole different person. :)
Jordan, I'm so sorry I didn't see you! Next time for sure. :)
This would be something really awesome. I'm not normally big on interaction (of the face-to-face variety) but I'd definitely make an exception for a book signing :-)
@Jordan, I usually keep my eyes down so I don't catch anyone attention, that's how shy I am. There are exceptions, of course, when someone talks to me, then I have to forcibly kick that shyness to the curb and act like a decent human being. I also have this problem remembering names. Its an inherited trait I got from my mom, and I think this has added to my introvertedness. I recognize your picture so we probably did meet at the conference. I did some of my best bluffing there. I even pitched a book to a lit agent. Talk about going outside my comfort zone.
Julie--oh, yeah, if someone asks me about what I'm writing, I light up like a Christmas tree and talk until my husband rolls his eyes from boredom.
I dream about doing book-signings! I can be shy at times, but I know I would love hanging out with fellow readers and talking about my book and other books and reading and writing etc. Thanks for the tips!!
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