One of my goals for 2022 was to do at least one book signing this year. Whether that was the Rennaisance Faire for which I applied, a local convention I somehow managed to get into, or partnering with a local bookstore for a spot for a couple of hours, I was going to make something happen. I thought it would take most of the year to reach this point. With a little luck and a lot of initiative, my first ever book signing event happened yesterday evening.
Much of my preparation was researching what other authors’ booths have looked like and finding the stories they have shared about what works well and advice for other authors (like me!). I also had to adapt to my budget, which is minimal at the moment. Here are some of the key items along with some of my takeaways:
- Books: The general information I found was 50-100 of each book for one (day) event.
- This was a smaller event, and I am still unknown. I brought 50 and did not come close to selling out.
- Signage: Big, eyecatching, genre-specific.
- I got an 11×17 foam board of an image I created using my cover art and review quotes. It worked well for the space given to me.
- I might add a cloth banner to go on the table cloth and hang down in front.
- I will add a picture of me to the foam board when I upgrade to a larger version. Many people were surprised I was the author…which surprised me, so lesson learned.
- Giveaways: have some, and have something that includes your author info on it.
- Fairy wings are my logo, so I had butterfly stickers for the kids and some simple bookmarks with a cover image on one side and my logo and info on the back with a QR code for my ebook link.
- The wax seals were also a draw. I sold those 2 for $1 and gave one for free with each book sale. They are more supply- and labor-intensive, so I decided not to give them away for free.
- Booth buddy/transportation: recommend having a booth buddy and hand cart if possible.
- Books are heavy, so are tables and chairs and all the other stuff you will bring. I borrowed my dad’s collapsable hand cart.
- My husband came with me as my buddy. He is better with people than I am, so he helped me get started with the whole “interaction” thing. He also covered for breaks and completed purchases while I signed the books.
- My niece also came as my cashier. Taking notes on my sales and helping make change. She stuck out the entire four hours too!
Check out this cute frog my niece made for me!
Meeker Street Nerd Party
The event itself is still pretty new and growing. I think it started with only one or two businesses on Meeker Street in Kent, WA doing a “nerd party” for their patrons who love fantasy, sci-fi, retro, comics, and other great nerdy things. It has grown to include most businesses on the street with special guests, exhibits, and events. There was cosplay, legos, trivia, artists, authors, and a couple of power rangers (actresses) doing autographs and photos!
While my niece was with me at my table, my nephew checked it out and enjoyed himself. It had pretty good traffic for most of the evening, and people had fun dressing up and participating, as well as patronizing the various businesses. I hope I can attend again and build a partnership with the bookstore.
Now you are asking, “If you didn’t get close to selling out, how did you do?”
“Pretty good, I think,” is my answer.
My guess and target for sales were two, so my bar was relatively low for this first event. I exceeded my target by a fair percentage, selling two in about seventy minutes, with my best hour coming in the middle. I appreciate all the support for local artists from the people stopping by my booth and others!
I practiced my stump speech the two days leading up to the event, so I only stumbled over it a little instead of constantly and stayed out in front of my table nearly the entire time. I consider that a victory in itself with my people-nerves.
Me with wings on and holding some of the little cakes from the participating bakery. Thanks for sharing them with me, family!
The experience and learnings were also invaluable. I’ve done it once; next time won’t be so scary. I also know what I need to work on:
- Push for sales more. It is not “pushy” to tell them that I’m offering to sign any books they purchase at the event. That is, in fact, a great way to let them know they are talking to the author.
- Push the newsletter sign-up. I forgot to do this too often, and those contacts are important. I need to offer this to every person who seems even remotely interested.
- Put my card/bookmark in each book I sell. I started doing this later in the day. It is a great way to get my website and other such info into the hands of people who will hopefully be enjoying my book soon and might consider following me at a later date.
My Favorite Part
It happened early into the evening with my first sale of the day. A young lady with her family stopped to talk with me, and my book was in her genre. She was interested in the book and got so excited to find out I was the author and would sign it for her. I ended up suggesting we get a picture together because this enthusiasm means so much to me. I wanted the picture as much as they did, if not more. I’m never sure about preferences for me using names; I will call her “B” here.
Hi, B! I hope you enjoy the book!