Book signings play an important role in the book world. For the author, signings are a big part of book promotions. Live events help to spark interest in not just their current book, but also in their past or future books as well. For the reader, they get to meet and speak with the person who they admire or who’s creativity they appreciate. The reader may also discover interest in a new author or book.
I attended my very first book signing in 1991. I was working at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI and Tom Clancy came there to give a lecture. This was after the release of the movie The Hunt for Red October, so you can imagine the long line of people waiting to see him. I had purchased two books for him to sign, and when I finally got up to him, I don’t think I said more than “Hello” and “Thank you”. Mr. Clancy took the books from my hands, signed them both, and gave them back to me. He didn’t look at me. He didn’t say a word. In his defense, there were A LOT of people waiting to meet him and I’m sure it was a long day for him.
After that, I avoided book signings at bookstores. I always felt too shy to approach the authors. What should I say? What should I do? So much pressure!! I finally broke out of my shell in June 2019 and attended a book signing at my local bookstore. I was a little nervous as I entered the bookstore. Fortunately, I met a very nice woman who was also there for the signing. As she had attended many of these events at this particular bookstore, she graciously took me under her wing and explained to me what to do. The author and her books were new to me. She turned out to be so lovely, I purchased two of her novels. I enjoyed reading both of those books and went back later to purchase three more. That was a good promotion for her – because of that one event I ultimately purchased five of her books! And I will probably purchase more of her books in the future.
Later, I discovered several book festivals taking place in my area, which I attended and was able to meet more authors – every one of them extremely nice and so interesting! I very much enjoyed listening to them and learning about their book, their writing process, and what inspires them.
After attending these events and posting my pictures on social media, friends and family members began to ask me questions about book signings. How do you find them? What do you do there? I’ve decided to list a few of my tips.
How to find book signing events:
- Visit your local bookstore or check their website for events listings. Even if you have a certain author or book in mind, you may discover they have other authors coming to your area who may also interest you.
- Check events that are being held at your local library. Many libraries will sponsor or co-sponsor author signings.
- Check publisher websites as they will have information on their authors.
- Last but not least, and my favorite source – check the author websites. (Author websites are how I found out about several book festivals I ended up attending.) If the author is not making an appearance near you, take a look at the bookstores they will be visiting. Even if you cannot attend an event at their store, many bookstores are happy to have you order books from them that they will have signed and shipped to you after the event.
Now that you have found an author event you’re interested in attending, here are some tips on what to do next:
- RSVP. This helps the store to prepare for the signing and make sure they will have enough books on hand for the event.
- Check the bookstore’s policy regarding the event. If you already own books that you would like to have signed, it has been my experience that as long as you purchase the author’s most recent release, they are fine with you bringing a book or two of your own. This will vary from store to store, and even from one event to the next so always be sure to contact the store for approval. Also remember that there will be other people attending the event and it may seem rude if you show up with a dozen books for the author to sign, especially if the author is only available for a short period of time.
- If you’d like a picture taken with the author, most stores and authors are very happy for you to do so. Many are also happy for you to share your photos on social media. As a common courtesy, ask beforehand just to make sure it’s okay.
2020 is shaping up to be a good signing year for me. (I've already attended two signings.) I hope it will be for you and that you find these tips helpful!