Friday, October 25, 2013

Book Signing Tips For Authors by Gary D. Robson

The true bonus of networking at events such as the PNBA Tradeshow is being able to expand our horizons and now we’re able to bring that same benefit to our AM101 readers.

Gary D. Robson, author, bookseller, and tea expert, has been compiling Tips for Authors for that significant event: Signing and Selling their Books directly to readers In A Bookstore. He has graciously agreed to share his tips here, and as he has lots and lots of tips, consider this your introduction.

Gary D. Robson has just released his 23rd book, Who Pooped in the Cascades? It is part of his children’s series that has sold over 350,000 copies. Selling that many books means he’s done a lot of book signings, and made a lot of mistakes. As the owner of a (very) independent bookstore, he’s also hosted a lot of book signings over the last 12 years, and watched a bunch of other authors make mistakes. 

Hopefully, this article will help you to avoid some of those mistakes.

We will continue to post his tips with our weekly posts.


As an author who also owns a bookstore, I have a rather unique perspective on book signings. By this, I mean I’ve seen a lot of them from both sides of the table, and I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.

You cannot simply expect the bookstore to do all of the work for you. A successful book signing is a partnership, and it requires at least as much effort from you as it does from the store. If you just show up at the scheduled time and expect incredible results, you are going to be disappointed. Here are 7 tips for making the signings work for both you and the store.

1.      Help with promotion. You’re an author. You probably have a website and/or a blog. You’re probably on Facebook and Twitter. You probably send out an e-newsletter. (If you’re not doing any of these things, why not?) Once you’ve finalized a book signing, tell everyone about it! Help the bookstore spread the word. It’s your book, and nobody can talk about it better than you can!
2.      Send promotional materials to the store. Sometimes, especially with new authors, I have a devil of a time finding a good hi-res photo of the author or the book cover to use on our posters and announcements. When you confirm the signing, ask the store manager if photos would be useful. If you have any little giveaways, like buttons or bookmarks, send some in advance for the bookstore’s promotional display.
3.      Communicate your special needs well in advance. Do you need a second chair at the signing table for your spouse or assistant? Do you need a projector, screen, or computer for your talk? Do you use a wheelchair and need help setting up? Do you need an easel for your signs or props? Do you need to leave right at 6:00? Do you need to be paid on the spot for books you supply? Figure it all out in advance and tell the bookstore — preferably in writing (email or letter).
4.      Let the store know when you get to town. As a bookseller, it frustrates me when an author is coming in from another state, and five minutes before the signing starts, I have no idea whether they’re a block away or caught in traffic in another town. If you’re running late, call and tell them. As my wife says, “If you’re not five minutes early, you’re late!” When you arrive, drop by the store and tell them you made it. Then (if you have time) go out and grab some dinner or whatever else you have to do. Speaking of which…
5.      Do what you need to do before the signing. Booksellers don’t like telling customers, “Yes, the book signing was supposed to start now, but the author is having a smoke/going to the bathroom/buying a soda/calling home.” Take care of everything in advance and be at your table ready to go at the scheduled start time for the event.
6.      Be prepared! Bring a spare pen in case you run out of ink. Bring a little notepad where people can write down the spellings of their names. If the store doesn’t have a coffee shop or tea bar, bring your bottle of water or thermos of hot drink (save the booze for after the book signing, please).
7.      Speaking of pens, bring one that dries quickly. Especially if your book is printed on glossy paper, you don’t want to close the cover and have the signature smear or transfer to the previous page. If the paper is thinner, make sure your pen doesn’t bleed through.

Web site and writing/personal blog:

In addition to his books and technical manuals, he’s written hundreds of articles for magazines, newspapers, encyclopedias, and websites. He’s written for a wide variety of publications, from the World Book Encyclopedia to Renaissance magazine, on subjects ranging from cattle to computer hacking.

Gary’s first foray into historical fiction is coming out next: a series of interconnected short stories entitled The Myths and Legends of Tea.

Watch for: Gary D. Robson Book Signing Tips for Authors:  on Future Posts

1 comment:

  1. What Gary says makes total sense, especially the quick-drying pen part (I don't know that that would've occurred to me). Thanks for a great post, ladies!