Book signings are exciting. There's really nothing more gratifying than actually meeting people who are interested in my book. Sure, it's a process of repeating my elevator speech over and over, being a salesperson of my own work, and bringing out my warmest, sparkliest self~ but the exhaustion at the end is worth getting my book into the hands of readers.
I have gotten my book signing gigs through one of two ways: an invitation via word of mouth, or I've made a cold call. Being an indie author, that's how it goes~ I am a writer and a marketer and a salesperson. I try to book signings wherever I go, even when I'm on vacation. I have materials ready, like a story synopsis, high resolution pictures for e-blasts and posters, pricing, examples of flyers from other events~ the easier I can make it on the store, the better chance that they will agree to have a signing.
A definite perk to book signings is that I get new customers from the store's mailing list, but if the event is near where I live, it is proper and expected that I have a list of my own to send the invitation to. I also need to make sure I have a lot of books in stock, usually sold on consignment that day. Often the store will purchase extra books outright to have on hand, and the cool thing is that such an event will create a buzz not only with the customers, but with the salespeople. The stores that regularly reorder my book are the ones where I have met the staff~ it's the magic of hand-selling. Salespeople who feel connected to an author will convincingly recommend his/her book to people.
So, once a date is set, emails go out a couple of weeks prior, and signage is put all around the store~ the rest is up to fate. Giving a good immediate impression is important, so I figure out what to wear the day before. I always look nice, but not too fancy. Relatable and fitting the style of the store always works best. I like to wear some kind of ethereal piece of jewelry, like a fairy necklace or dragonfly ring, since those items relate to my story. It's like having a subtle, silent 'authentication'. And then, I pack up my goodies and I'm off! But what goodies? Well. . .
Besides books, I bring several supplies: book stands to display books upright (these are really for pictures~ got them at Michael's Crafts), flower and butterfly diecuts to sprinkle around for simple 'ambiance' (scrapbooking supplies from Michael's), pens to sign with, Post-it notes for people to write down who/how to spell the person's name for me to sign the books to, freebies: bookmarks, postcards, stickers (who doesn't like free stuff~ it's a reward for trekking out to see me), and business cards. I also travel with a fairy house I made, again to give my readers a small nudge towards the experience of reading my story. I also made a 'poster', which I chose to decoupage and paint onto a canvas that gives a brief synopsis, shows the book cover, my picture, with a space for the latest announcement: "here today from 10 a.m. to noon!"
Now it's time to brush up on my elevator speech! I have about 30 seconds to capture my potential book purchaser once they've asked, "What is it about?" And I will give my speech over and over and over again. (It really makes me appreciate singers who emote every time they sing their Top 40 hit!) I, as the writer/seller, must also revive the excitement from within each time I talk about my book. It's a little strange, to rave about my own creation~ "it's the best thing you'll ever read!"~ ah! I couldn't possibly say that without a twinge of uncertainty, but I believe in my work and try to let that show.
The fun part is when someone comes in and has already read my book and loved it. Or when they want to take a picture with me, telling me it's so they can say, "I met her when she was first starting out... " And though I wrote this book for tweens, my audience largely consists of grandmothers. These sweet ladies know how to make an author feel good, with their worldly advice and kind support. And their generation appreciates the wonderful feeling of holding an actual book in their hands~ not that many don't have Kindles, they do, but their generation looks at books as something really special. They warm my heart.
Writing can be a lonely business, and so getting out to book signings gets me in touch with my readers. I believe the best writers experience people and are out observing as much as possible. Even the smallest turnout can lead to a new connection and/or experience.
And if you aren't a writer but a reader, please attend local author events. Those writers want to meet you~ even if you decide not to buy our book, you may give us a nice moment of getting acquainted, and you may even spark something to go into our next book.