Seven Things to Do Before a Book Signing


Book Release Photo - Cache a Predator

Last summer, while walking in our downtown, roaming the quaint shops along Winona Lake’s canal, I stopped into SACS & CO., INC and met the owners, two sisters, Marta and Lauri.  (They are the warmest shop owners, ever!) We instantly hit it off. Somehow I mentioned that the novel I was writing was modeled after Winona Lake. Marta and Lauri encouraged me to sell my book in their store when it was published.

So, this week, I called them to ask if they were still interested in helping me sell my books. They said, YES. They even suggested I host a book signing. They said, “Why not come this Saturday.”

I said, “You mean, three days from now?”

They said, “Sure, the classic car show will be right out front and swarms of people will be around.”

I said, “Okay, sounds great.”

They said, “We’ll set up a table on the front porch for you.” Then they invited my big goldendoodle, Jetta, to come for the day. I guess dogs draw a crowd, and store owners and authors like a crowd!

Jetta Photo at SAKS


I only had three days to prepare, but with social media and digital photos, it didn’t take much time to get the word out.

Here are tips on how to prepare:

1. Bring a poster of your novel and an easel to display it in front of your “stand.” How do you make a poster? You can upload your book cover at VISTA PRINT and have them ship it to you, or you can create the poster online through STAPLES, but pick it up at your local store. It’s cheaper to pick it up because you don’t have to pay shipping costs.

2. Email your friends, coworkers and family announcing the time, the date, and where you’ll be. Ask them to let their friends and family know.

3. Tell them if they bring a friend you’ll have a gift for them. If you can relate the gift to your novel’s plot that would be great, but a simple candy bar or book mark will do.

4. Decide what you’re going to wear. Is it going to be cool outside? Will you be in the shade? How do you want your readers to perceive you? Remember, it only takes a few seconds to make a first impression. What impression do you want to make?

5. Share a “Press Release” at the town’s FB page. (Or the city, wherever you’ll be posted.) I included the  book trailer, location and time of the event, and a quote from a reader. I also shared the info at the store’s FB page and Twitter. You could take a photo of your book and upload it to the city’s twitter account so followers would see your event and book.

6. Choose a pen that flatters your handwriting. Some authors choose a gel pen, while others prefer a sharpie.

7. Practice how you’re going to sign the books. Be sure to practice the spelling. (Confession time: Since CACHE a PREDATOR is a geocaching mystery, I signed my novels, “Cache with caution,” but I misspelled caution for one of my friends. Talk about embarrassing moments!)

I asked my friends at FB this week for suggestions on how to sign a novel. Check out what they said:

 Tips on How to Sign Your Novel

  • Ian Graham said, “Unless the reader has something specific that they request as an inscription, and you should definitely ask if they do, just write their name, your “catch phrase” and sign it. The catch phrase I use for my political thriller series is “Slan Abhaile!” which is an Irish saying meaning “Safe home” or “Good journey” because the primary protagonist is an Irishman.”
  • Oliver Dahl said, “I sign ‘Dream on! Enjoy!’ You could at least add “enjoy” if you don’t have a catch phrase or anything clever to say about the book. But I recommend figuring out some other short thing you could add to make it a bit more personal.”
  • Rick Barry said, “Find a short phrase that would be appropriate to the book or to you. For instance, for my World War 2 novel about an airman, I use the WW 2 motto “Keep ’em flying!””
  • Pamela Michele-Dorsey said, “Write whatever your heart leads you to write.”
  • Ricki Distin said, “Thank you. Buy another for your mother.”
  • Millie Nelson-Samuelson said, “Don’t sign their name unless they ask for it. They might not be buying the books for themselves. I always presign a bunch of books with a word like ENJOY (and my name) or SPECIAL BLESSINGS, etc. Presigning gives me more time to chat with readers. Of course, if they have to buy the book first from a store and bring it to you, you can’t presign. The past couple of years, I usually just sign my first name, or my first name plus the initials NS. With your name, you might want to consider that. . .
  • Linda Lou Lindemuth Fulwider said,  “Love and kisses.”
  • John Hamm said, “My only experience is getting the author’s signature. Several use Sharpy’s, as opposed to the archival pens mentioned in the lesson above. Newt Gingrich used “to a great American” for one of his historical books. Others used personalization only when the lines were short and moving, and then asked for spelling. One bookstore asked us to print our names for Colin Powell to use for correct spelling when personalizing when the line was really long. Saw Steve Forbes once and commented that I enjoyed his book, and he actually mailed a signed bookplate to me with “to my friend John.”
  • Ann Fetterman Miller said, “I write something to do with the theme of the book, like, “For the person in your life who has to learn everything the hard way,” or “Follow your dreams.”

Where to Sign Your Novel

Typically you sign on the title page near your name.

What I Wish I’d Done

Even though I sold ten novels, I wished I’d done a few more things.

.  Next time I’ll take a photo with every single buyer and the book, get their FB page and email address, and mail them a copy of the photo, or share it at their FB page and mine. It’s all about building relationships, genuinely. And I care. (Sometimes too much, but that helps with getting to know my characters and that’s a topic for a totally different post.)

.  Give a gift to those who bring a friend. I wish I’d bought a little bar of scented soap from SACS & CO., INC for my guests who brought their friends. I would have been promoting the gift shop too.

.  One of my buyers said, “Are you going to publish any other books? Because once I find an author I like, I follow them. I want to make sure you’re going to have other books after this one.” I assured her that I would and she shook my hand. Palm to forehead, why didn’t I get her to sign my registry or take a photo with me? Duh!

.  Offer products from SACS & CO., Inc. in my giveaways. Although I haven’t done this yet, I plan on doing it in the future. If you’re looking for giveaway ideas check out SACS & CO., INC. and mail your lucky winner an awesome smelling basket. Even though their little shop is in our town, they’re online too.

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What have you learned from your book signings?

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  1. I just finished a book signing at the Squirrel Fest in Longview, Wash. This is my fifth signing, and I do most of the things you suggested – I just keep forgetting to get e mail addys. I do pass out business cards and post cards that have the book cover plus my book’s website
    They can check out the website and contact me through it. I usually sign my books
    Enjoy your journey with Ozette
    I always check name spellings as many kids have unusual spellings as well as unusual names. We sold 25 books at the fest so we are pleased. That does not always happen!

    • Hi Judy –
      WOW! Glad to hear you sold 25 books!! Awesome. We have a blueberry festival nearby over labor day, and I’m hoping to get a booth there to sell a few again. I’ll do a few things differently. We learn as we go, don’t we? You have a great cover. That helps. Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience. I love “following” Ozette’s journey.

  2. Good tips! Thanks for adding mine! 🙂

    Book signings are usually pretty unpredictable. I have had signings where I sell 4 or 5, and others where I sell over fifty. I hadn’t thought to do one anyone where but a bookstore or a library. That alone was helpful to me.

    • Hi Oliver!
      I referred a teen to you yesterday. He’s publishing his first novel and doing the blog tour thing. He’ll be here at RANDOM at the end of September. His name is Warren Cassel (I might have the spelling wrong.)
      Hope your book sales are rocking!
      Glad I could help you a little.


  3. I’m doing my first book signing on Saturday! Thanks for these tips.

    • Hi Karla –
      I hope you sell lots of books! Thanks for stopping by and I hope some of this info helps.
      Where will you be?

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