Have you ever been to a book signing? Don’t you find it a little bit overwhelming to think about all the things you need to prepare for the big day? Between the books orders, the authors to discover, the suitcases dilemma ( books or clothes? ), here are a few tips that I hope will be useful if you are a regular at book events or attending your first one !
Okay so it’s D-day. Let’s try and get you ready to have an amazing signing and make it an experience you’ll remember for ever!
SHOW UP EARLY
Some signings offer a pre-registration time slot—usually the day before the signing— where you can grab your entry bracelet, badge or lanyard and in some cases a goodie bag.
But in the event that you can’t pre-register or the signing doesn’t offer this service, it’s good to give yourself a little room before the signing to validate your admission ticket and get in line to enter the signing room. Remember some signing have + 400 attendees and it can take a long time ticketing everyone in the morning.
So it goes without saying… Don’t forget your ticket. Some signings accept them on your phone too. Check with the event’s organizers.
FASHION SHOW IS NOT TODAY
Remember in the previous post we talked about making room in our luggages to fit at least a few clothes? Well you’ll definitely want some room to pack in layers.
Book events hosting more than 10 authors take place in large rooms and most are well ventilated—some even air-conditioned—however, with so many happy people running around, as well ventilated the room may be, I can guarantee you’ll get hot at some point during the day.
My best advice is to pick an outfit that you’re super comfortable in. You’ll be moving a lot, between the bending to grab and sort books from your rolling cart, luggage or bag, the hugs to your book friends, authors, or even just queuing all day, you want something that won’t stick to your skin or restrain your moves.
Now hold on fashionistas, I’m not suggesting you come up in sweats and sport bras (though, that’s pretty damn comfy) but maybe not the party skintight dress you like to show off your bod with.
Personally I like :
-legging /comfy jeans + a tank top + a 3/4 sleeves tee or shirt. (Shorts if it’s summer, or maxi dress even.)
Then it’s all about layering your outfit.
-A light jacket and a scarf(if it’s cold morning out from your hotel or house to the signing venue)
-An additional light cardigan (linen if summer!) or coton shirt for the book signing room.
This apply to shoes as well.
It’ll be a long day on your feet and although I’ve seen women in high heels all day at those events—I think they’re not human—I would highly recommend your favorite pair of sneakers or comfy shoes like flats or ankle boots even. In summer I know we like our sandals, but maybe not the best choice if you consider all the readers rolling carts and luggages of books. A rolling cart filled with 20 books can do terrible damages to your (mostly) naked feet. And yes, I speak from experience.
HAVE YOUR BOOKS ROLLING
We’ve made sure in the previous post to have our books ready but some of us will travel lightly than others (ahem book addict and your 40 books, but if it’s book it’s not hoarding, right?)
-1 to 9 books : A totebag or two will be just fine. Or your favorite messenger bag even.
-More than 10 books? Forget about tote bags. You’ll need a luggage or a rolling cart to keep your hands free. (Though, a tote bag is great to put the book swag you’ll grab at author’s tables. Another good thing to have is an envelope or file folder to slip your bookmarks / postcards into. Torn edges, bent bookmarks are not cool!)
The easiest being a suitcase you already own, you can open it without having to lay it on the floor. Some models have a top opening so you can grab and slip back your books without too much trouble.
But the best would probably be a rolling cart than can be folded flat in your suitcase and unfolded to put your books in. Some models are just like a crate on wheels with a telescopic handle and you can grab books easily from the opened crate, but I’ve seen a few models with a kind of lid / top so you can close it(and maybe sit on it?).
Suitcases you have to open flat on the floor are not convenient because sometimes alleys can be super crowded with queuing lines on both sides leaving only just enough space for people to circulate. Opening flat a suitcase will be difficult.
PACK A SURVIVAL KIT
A bottle of water, a few snacks and candies, some ibuprofen or paracetamol, blister bandages and tampons.
Make those a staple in your bag for that day. As mentioned before, the signing room can get hot at some point during the day, or simply exhaustion or fatigue can sneak up on you anytime and ruin your day.
I’ve seen people collapse from fatigue or dehydration.
–Stay hydrated during the day, have one or two small bottles of water in your bag (I like to bring one of them completely frozen so I won’t drink tepid hot water, yuk!)
-If you don’t want to miss out from the signing and maximize your chance to see all the authors, chances are you’ll skip lunch. In that case, make sure to have a few snacks ready. (Nuts, a muffin, a small bag of chips, candies.)
– Headaches and migraines are not uncommon during signing events, a room full with about 500 happy readers can get loud. Pack a couple of your go to headache tablets in your bag.
– I’ve seen it happened… I’ve been asked for them during author’s lines. Blister bandages for some unhappy feet! Have a couple in your bag. You never know, can be useful to yourself or a fellow reader. 😉
– Ladies… I know you most likely know your cycles… But you’ll be stuck in a crowed space all day and mensies can surprise any of us. Think about packing a tampon or two or pads in your bag! (I don’t even count the times I’ve been asked for a tampon at a book signing!)
Some authors will have candies or treats on their tables, don’t hesitate and help yourself to one or two! It’s fuel for your next line! 😉
I know, I know, you brought your own books, you made pre-orders from your authors, you have ALL your books ready. Sure. If you say so.
But in my experience, that you may be an impulsive buyer or not, you’ll get tempted to buy at signing.
-This book from this author you didn’t know you just chatted to? She made you genuinely interested in her book.
-You’ll want to try this awesome book a new book friend just recommended to you while queuing.
-Wait, your unicorn authors have a special edition of your favorite book? Oh and these awesome tees or limited swag this authors sells?Must have them!
Still convinced you don’t need cash because you already have it all planned?
I’ve seen a few authors take credit cards or paypal, but mostly, if you intend to purchase books directly from an author cash is the easiest and convenient option for everyone.
PLAN YOUR WAY
Check the Facebook group of the signing, most event coordinators provide a sitting plan/floor map of the signing a couple of weeks before the event.
Have it printed at home and color code which authors’ tables you plan to hit first or in priority.
Another thing to take in consideration is which lines may be ticketed. Usually, organizers will set up ticketed lines for specific authors susceptible to get crowed all day by handing out tickets. You’ll have to be attentive and check if your number is being called to the ticketed line you registered to.
If you are already queuing at another author’s line when your number is called, ask the person behind you if they can “keep” you your spot. You’ll have to evaluate if you can come back or just have to leave your current spot and come back at a later time.
Check at the end of this post for a free download of RARE Berlin’s author list spreadsheet.
MEETING WITH AN AUTHOR
-Readers : If you interact with a few authors on social media, think about letting them know who you are. You can tell them your full name or maybe have a pin button or a badge made with your name on it. (giveaway happening now on my FB page to win your own) Either make a generic one that you can bring to every signing, or have one made specifically for the event, it’ll make a great keepsake! A simple sticker can do the job too!
-Bloggers : Announce yourself! Book signings are a great way to make contacts and grow your network. Have some business cards made and don’t hesitate to hand them out to authors and even people queuing with you! I’ve met a few bloggers this way in the past.
Sometimes authors and publishers have books available for review or even giveaways for your blog.
Like readers, think about having a badge or pin button made for the event with your name or your blog’s name on it, people will be able to identify your internet persona!
As a general rule, try to introduce yourself. I know a lot of us book lovers are introverts but just by presenting yourself, name and where you’re from is great to engage conversation and break the ice. 🙂
If you pre-ordered books from authors mention it right away, it gives time to their assistants to find your name in their listing and grab your order while you chat with the author and have your book or swag signed.
One of the great things about book signings beside meeting your favorite author, is getting keepsakes of your day. Authors will have swag available at their table, bookmarks, postcards, pens, bracelets… Some have some really cool and fun stuff, don’t hesitate to grab one of each. It’s there for a reason. I was shy at my first signing and kept asking if I could take one this, and that, and this one too… lol! Just take one of each. If you promised swag for a friend who couldn’t come, ask the author if it’s okay to pick some for your friend too.
I’ve seen authors sell special swag like tees or mugs at signings too. 🙂
THE BOOK SIGNING
If you read part one of my book signing tips, you should have a post it with your name in all your books. It makes it easier for the author and no misspelling errors! Ask the author to sign any other items you may have (book plates, tote bag, e-reader case, photo album).
SMILE, IT’S PICTURE TIME
Don’t be afraid to ask for a picture. I’ve never met an author yet who refused a picture. It takes a few second and you’ll be grateful to have a memory of your meeting.
On my first signing I was hesitant and afraid to annoy or bother the authors or even take too much of their time. I ended with only a couple of pictures, memories in my head and regrets about not having more pictures! Memories fade and pictures stay!
Also, make sure it’s a good one! If you do the lines with a friend, ask her / him to take your picture and take more than one! No one wants a picture with your eyes semi-closed or so blurry you can’t even tell the color of your hair.
Here are a couple of ideas :
-Have a threesome… You + Author + Book
-Ask the author to make a serious face pic AND a goofy face pic with you. (My friend Julie started this on our first signing and I just loved the idea!)
-Make a selfie! Come on, I know some of us have that selfie stick ready…
– Group pictures! If you’re doing author’ s lines with a small group of friends, ask the author and their assistant if they you can have a picture group with the author.
PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE / LONG LINES TIPS
And you’ll have to bring your A game but here are a few tricks to make the time pass a little bit faster.
-Sort the books/items you want the next author to sign. Have then ready by the time your reach the table.
-Ask the person behind you to hold your place if you see an author’s table you wanted to see with a very small line or no line at all. Hurry to that table and come back queuing at your initial spot. Do the same for people asking you.
– Bathroom breaks. If you’re in a line that just seems to take forever, make the most of it and go for that bathroom break! Ask the person behind you to keep your spot while you go for some relief. 🙂 Offer the same to your line buddy or if you see an fellow reader struggling!
-Sometimes queuing for an author’s table, you’ll find yourself in front of another table with a lonely author(it happens!). Make the most of this opportunity and ask the author about their work, books. I’ve discovered new authors this way and make line friends!
-Engage conversation with people in lines with you. Book talk, surely you have a few things to talk about?
-Think about recharging your Smartphone. In our previous post we talked about powerbank batteries. Taking selfies and checking social media all day will drain your phone’s battery. Make sure to recharge!
Most of all, bring your fangirl mode on! Book signings are supposed to be fun! Sometimes you’ll be tempted to get annoyed at how long the line is, or how tired your feet are, but remember you’re here to meet all those fantastic authors and your long distance book friends, it’s worth the trouble!
This looks like A LOT of infos, it’s not a Book Signing Rules guide but more of guide to first time attendees.
Every signing is different and you’ll eventually have to roll with the flow and adapt! I hope I could give you some helpful tips here, if I missed anything or if you have tips not covered here, I’d love to hear about it! Please let me know!
FREE BOOKPLATES TEMPLATE
Rare ’17 Berlin edition.
Dimensions of each book plate is 12cm x 9cm – set of 4
(best if printed on A4 cardstock paper. 21 x 29 cm)
To save them on your computer, “right click-save as”