Monday, July 18, 2016

Insecurity Buster: Book Signing Fear

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is all about insecurity and hopefully overcoming them. Insecurity Buster is a feature I'll do from time to time in which I’ll provide tips to help you defeat an insecurity.

Today’s Insecurity Buster is…Book Signing Fear.

When you do a book signing, you’re coming face to face with your fans maybe for the first time, you’re representing your book in public, and you have to “pretend” you’re an author. All of this can be stressful.

Here are 3 ways to help you ease into a book signing:

1. Signing at a Park

Invite your family and closest friends, who you know will support you, to the park or some other place where you can gather without drawing attention to a crowd. Set up a table with a table cloth, books, and postcards. Have a chair so you can sit down to sign books. Greet your friends and family when they arrive, sign some books or postcards, and then have a little picnic to unwind and have fun.
TIP: Get clips to keep the table cloth from flying. 
This is an image of a park book signing I did with my family. I sold 2 books. :)

2. Home Signing + Holiday Sale

I got this idea from Melissa Maygrove. Set up a book signing table on your driveway next to a table with gift baskets for a holiday. Melissa Maygrove chose Mother’s Day and held her event Mother’s Day weekend. Put out signs as if you’re having a garage sale but advertise it differently. Example: Mother’s Day Gifts + Local Author Signing.

Don’t forget to put an ad in the paper in the yard sale section. You can also create an event on Facebook, invite everyone you know in the area, and have them invite everyone they know.

On the day of, prepare your table early, have a water bottle, shade, a ready smile, and pens. Greet everyone who stops and ask them if they’d like a book or postcard signed.
TIP: Always have postcards or something else with your book promo on it, so if someone doesn’t want a book you can still send them off with info about your book.
Don’t be bummed if you don’t sell any books. I’ve read that at book signings, most authors sell an average of 1-2 books. Yes, really. This isn’t about money, though. It’s about connecting with potential readers.

Melissa's Mother's Day Sign + Sale

3. Sign-Up for a Big Event + Signing

If you’re afraid of doing it alone, you can do it with a group of authors (5 to 50!) at a book event. I will be doing one of these June 2017 in Florida at the Space Coast Book Lovers Event with about 70 other authors, including M.J. Fifield! Doing a signing with a bunch of other authors takes the heat of you, and you can see that everyone else is probably just as nervous as you are. You may not sell a book with that many other authors in one space, but you can still make countless connections. That’s why promo materials (postcards, business cards, bookmarks) and SWAG is so important.

How to ease your book signing fear:

  • Hold one of your books so your hands don’t shake.

  • Smile and ask the person at your table what kind of books they like. This can work if you’re nervous about talking about your book at first.

  • Have a tagline ready that you can recite to anyone who asks what your book is about. Then hand them a postcard with part of your blurb on it (or your book so they can read the blurb on the back).

  • Practice signing your signature before the signing and make sure you have a good pen.

  • Sit down when you sign, but stand back up when you greet or say goodbye.

  • Have post-its on your table to ask so you can ask everyone to write their names down. This will help you not misspell names.

  • Thank them for coming and always give them something so they don’t walk away empty-handed. 

Author of Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, 30 Seconds, Ghost of Death, and Witch of Death. Blogger. Reader. Auntie. Vegetarian. Cat Lover.

QUESTION: What are your book signing tips? Have you ever done a spin on a book signing? Tell us about it!

AUGUST 3RD QUESTION: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

 *Add this question and your answer to your August 3rd IWSG Post.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I remember seeing a photo of Melissa's event. Clever.
Space Coast - what a cool name for an event!

Chrys Fey said...

The coast by the Kennedy Space Center is known as the Space Coast. :)

Pat Hatt said...

Good idea to give a little something indeed. My signature always looks different lol sucky hand writing.

Bish Denham said...

Great ideas! Besides bookmarks and postcards, what other kinds of swag should a person have?

Chrys Fey said...

@Pat, I'm still getting used to signing my pen name.

@Bish, anything really. You can actually give readers anything that relates to your book. I painted sea shells and put hearts on them because shells are something that have a significance in Seismic Crimes, as well as Book 3 that's not out yet. So I'm giving these shells to readers. :)

EliasM said...

Oh, this is GOOD. I'm an over-compensating introvert so I can project like nobody's business. Of course, I use this power only for good--promoting scribble siblings in their signings. Which, in turn, helps me see what works and what NEVER do do in my own signings. Thanks for posting this.

Chrys Fey said...

@Elias, I'm glad you liked this. I'm also an introvert. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Those are great tips - fun!! I have to admit to sheer terror at the thought of a signing. *shudder* :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Hold one of your books so your hands don't shake - LOL!

I'm a roamer and greeting. I go all over the bookstore and hand book marks to anything that moves.

Chrys Fey said...

@Jemi, I feel the same way, which is why I plan to start small with these examples and work my way up. Slowly banish the fear. :)

@L. Diane, you are braver than I am. But I should really give that a try.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Our local group does a Valentine's booksigning at a local greenhouse. We always sell books and there's usually about 20 of us. I don't get nervous anymore.

Juneta key said...

Enjoyed the post. Love the pictures.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Chrys Fey said...

@Susan, a Valentine's book signing is a great idea!

@Juneta, thanks. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wow! I love these ideas. I've been thinking about having a signing in the near future and I haven't been able to figure out where to locate it. The coffee shop seems intimidating, the local and very encouraging book shop closed, and then . . . well, I start to feel ragged thinking about it.
But a home signing, or one in a park, would be really cool.

Thanks for the great tips!

Michelle Wallace said...

Such great ideas!
Hold one of your books so your hands don’t shake. This made me chuckle. But it's true.
Keeping post-its on the table is a good idea. Nervousness may cause authors to misspell names...
The shells are such a cool idea for your Seismic Crimes series. When it comes to SWAG, authors get an opportunity to let their creativity run wild.
Thanks for the informative post, Chrys!

cleemckenzie said...

Lots of good details here, things people don't often think of when doing a signing. Always appreciate these kinds of posts. Very helpful.

Patricia Stoltey said...

My favorite signings have been at big events such as our Senior Center's two-day after Thanksgiving craft and gift sale.

For my last book release, I was hobbled by a bad knee so I only scheduled "one big book signing and launch party" at a local bookstore and I served lots of refreshments plus coffee. I gave a talk with a Q&A, which is not my favorite thing but turned out well, and had two large gift baskets for giveaways.

Cool things to put in gift baskets include stuffed animals (especially if you can find one that relates to your story) and coffee mugs with the book's cover art on the side.

diedre Knight said...

All great ideas, Chrys! The comfortable setting of a park is my favorite place for these events. I hadn't thought of an ad in the newspaper, but I have passed out flyers at writers meetings and inadvertently recruited more authors to join me! And a tablecloth is an essential that I overlooked - just once;-) I do agree, signings are more about connecting than about sales. Terrific post, thanks for sharing.

Chrys Fey said...

@Tyrean, I feel the same way about a signing at a coffee shop or book store. Too intimidating for me right now. I need to work myself to those. :)

@Michelle, my hands would be shaking like crazy and it's the perfect prop to hold! ;)

@C Lee, thanks!

@Patricia, big events are great for readers and authors. Sounds like you know how to go a good book signing. Thanks for the gift basket ideas!

@Diedre, fliers are a great marketing tool. Thanks for visiting!

J.L. Campbell said...

Wonderful tips, Chrys. If the thought of doing the signing on your own gets too bad, I suppose you could invite another couple of authors to share the limelight.

Crystal Collier said...

I hear having a treat at your table is a good way to draw people, but not necessarily for your book. =)

Fundy Blue said...

Great tips, Chrys! I've been to many book signings over the years, so I've had a chance to observe many authors in action from famous to unknown newbies and at events from huge conferences to newbies at the local bookstore. One venue that I thought took the heat off was a farmers market. I've seen authors have successful signings at different markets across the US and Canada. I think it is important to remember that it's about making connections and getting info about your book out there. One give-away that I think is effective is a bookmark with the author's book and info on it ~ which you mentioned. I think it's great because readers always need bookmarks, and they see that bookmark over and over while they're reading a book. Your comment about pretending to be in author really speaks to the insecurities a newly published author feels. Loved it!

Chrys Fey said...

@JL, a group signing is a great idea and takes the pressure off you.

@Crystal, I hear the same thing. I wouldn't do a candy dish because people just grab and go. I'd have something to give people if they actually stop and talk to me or buy a book. :)

@Fundy, a farmers market is an excellent idea! I'm glad you liked my post. :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Way to go, Melissa. What a brilliant idea. Thanks for this list of tips, Chrys. They are awesome ideas. I dread book signings. At least at a reading you know they're there to see you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great tips, Chrys! I'll get to put them into practice this Sunday. I've found, too, that I don't sell as many books at straight book signings as I do at farmer's markets and events like the Renaissance Faire. It's still a great way to connect with readers, though, as you said.

Carrie-Anne said...

Once I finally have physical copies, I'll ask the local indie bookstores to host me. I'm that rare person who can not only write with both hands, but write with each hand simultaneously, so I could sign two books at once.