It’s official: I completed my first book signing! Whew and yay all in the same moment. It was a wonderful experience full of so much support from family and friends. I’m grateful for Fountain Books allowing me to come and their willingness to host me on a very busy day.
With that said, there are several lessons I learned on what I felt were successful, what I wish I knew beforehand, and what I would do differently for next time.
9 Unforgettable Lessons I Learned from My First Book Signing
I arrived 15 minutes before the start time of the signing to set up my table. I would encourage you to do the same. This allowed me to meet those who are working on shift at the store, set up, and get a good feel for the place prior to people arriving. If you can request to be placed by the door, do it! I’ll explain more on why below.
There was a chair provided for the signing but I felt that to be a barrier between me and the customer. I knew I wouldn’t be as outgoing if I were sitting down. If you need to sit, please do so, otherwise, stand if your health permits. Yes, your feet will be sore
Yes, your feet will be sore afterward, especially if you decide to wear heels as I did. But I promise it’s worth it. Standing allows you to greet people as they come into the store, shake hands, and leaves room for open communication between you and the customer.
3. Host a Giveaway
Host a giveaway for those who come into the store. Invite everyone to enter, whether they decide to buy your book or not. For my signing, I gave away a “Freezer Meal Starter Kit” and a copy of my book. This was a HUGE hit! Everyone who came entered the drawing.
Another big reason to do a giveaway is to collect email address to help build up your email list for your newsletter. It’s important to reach out and thank those who came to support you and keep them informed of future endeavors.
4. Say Hi
Say hello to everyone who comes into the store. Yes, EVERYONE.
This is why you should request to be placed next to the entrance door. You want your smiling face to be the first thing people see when they come to the store. You and your book. I will be the first to admit this may be a little intimidating at first, but if your bright and happy smile is the first thing a customer see’s when they walk into the store, you will be remembered.
People are more likely to remember how you made them feel rather than what you said. You don’t need to tell people to come see you and buy your book. A simple, friendly, “Hello! How are you today?” will sell more books than “come, buy, now!”
Bring LOTS of pens, and test them to make sure they write prior to your signing. I brought five pens along with me to my signing, four pens for others to use and write their names for the giveaway, and a fifth pen so I could sign books and not have to “borrow” a pen from anyone else.
Black or blue ink is more professional looking. If you feel the need to use a Sharpie, make sure it’s a fine tip and that the pen doesn’t leak onto other pages.
Allow the store you are signing at help you advertise. I advertised on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Paying for Facebook ads is worth the cost if you do set your ad up properly and target the right type of people. If the store your signing at has a newsletter, write up a professional blurb for them to send out to those on their email list. The more people who know about your event, the better!
7. What Happens When You Sell Out?
Fountain Books was amazing at making sure all the copies they had available of my book were at my table. The trouble came when I sold out after my first hour, and I had another hour to go! I was grateful for the blessing that so many people came and bought my book. However, I felt horrible for the people who came afterward, wanting a copy and left empty handed.
What do you do after you sell out? (Especially with an hour – or more – to go!?)
First, stay put and don’t leave.
If you commit to a time, stay with it. For those who came in after the books were sold, I gave my usual friendly “hello” greeting and then promptly explained the books have all been sold. I then encouraged them to either pre-order a copy at the front desk for the next available shipment or to visit Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com for ordering options. I then encouraged them to enter my giveaway drawing for a chance to win a copy of my book.
Surprisingly people were very supportive. Many were disappointed there were no copies available, but they expressed their excitement for me on my success and support. I took the time to thank them for their kind words.
No matter who you interact with, what they say or do, always be gracious. I would encourage you to remember to thank the employees on shift. They can be your best friends while you are there. And to also remember, you are a guest in their store.
9. No Glass
This lesson I learned by mistake. Before the book signing, I bought a beautiful glass bowl for all the entries to be placed. After my time came to a close and I started cleaning up I accidentally knocked the glass bowl over and yes, it shattered EVERYWHERE!
I carefully picked up as many pieces as I could, one employee helped gather the outlying pieces and another ran to grab the vacuum. I was embarrassed but I hope you can learn from my mistake. Just because you think something is super cute if it can break, leave it at home.
I do wish you the best in all of your future endeavors, whether you will be doing a book signing of your own, a presentation, or any other pursuits you are fulfilling. I hope the lessons I learned will be a blessing and a help for you. Thank you for joining me on this journey.
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