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 wether you are a regular at book events or attending your first one !
For real. The first event I’ve been to had so many authors I wanted to meet it was overwhelming trying to even decide which way to go and which table to hit first. So instead of losing precious minutes measuring the pros and cons or standing undecided, plan ahead.
I love lists. It’s a sickness really, I’m not an OCD person at all except when it involves lists and spreadsheets (alright, maybe I am totally OCD). So whenever a signing is announced and I’m planning to attend, I start a spreadsheet. It helps me organize future buys, authors I have yet to read, books I already read and own.
– Make a list of your Top Authors and authors you want to meet by order of importance.
We all have our unicorn authors, so maybe start with your Top Favorite, authors you’ve read and enjoyed this past year, authors you’ll never have a chance to meet again… It’s up to you really to determine and make a ” TOP LIST” to visit.
Mine goes like this
Favorites reads this year
Authors already read
First time meeting author
– Make a wishlist on Amazon with the Paperbacks you plan on having signed.
– Make a wishlist in Amazon with books from every authors attending.
– Make a spreadsheet/ Amazon list with every author’s 3 best selling / ranked books so you can try some new authors.
– Make a spreadsheet / list with all authors attending and color code authors “read”, “must visit”, or “must read before the signing”. (free download at the end of this post.)
PREPARE YOUR BOOKS.
Sounds like a given right? But let’s make sure you have it all covered.
–Make sure to have post-its with your name in CAPITALS on the page you want your book to be signed. You don’t want to open the book after the signing and realize the author misspelled your name? Then put a post-it on it!
– Wrap each book into a cellophane envelope, or in cellophane wrapper (Ikea sandwich bags work wonders and are super cheap but any ziploc bags work too). I know it sounds extreme, but you want to take care of your precious signed book. Once you put it in your suitcase, you don’t want it to be damaged by something else or pages being torn. ( I speak from personal experience, ouch! )
– Order your precious a little ahead of the signing. Some of us will of course have most of their books on their bookshelves already, but for the others, make sure to order your books at least a month before the signing.
I know a few authors have pre-orders forms ready so you can pre-order from them directly and pick your book at the signing and it’s a good idea really (some have them cheaper than amazon even), but if you opt for this option, think about keeping a list of everything you’ve ordered.
3 books there, 2 books there and another one here, and when the day comes to pick up your books at the signing, plus the ones you’ll have brought with you and the impulsive buys on the signing day? Your suitcase will not be happy with you, and you don’t want to leave precious books behind. So let’s keep track of ALL the books and bring luggages accordingly! (I speak from personal experience here, I had to leave shoes and books behind once to be able to make it home.)
Some signings have so many authors attending it can be difficult to decide which book to bring. For example, the next signing I’m attending, I have listed 23 Top Fave Authors, 16 authors I would love to meet again and at least 30 to discover. I can’t possibly travel with ALL my favorite books and that’s a shame! Some choices need to be made and let’s get real, this is the HARDEST part.
I know some of you are already thinking “Do I really need to bring clothes to this book signing thing?” The answer is YES. Not sure what kind of book event you’re traveling to next, but unless it’s a naturist convention, I can guarantee you’ll need to be dressed. So books over clothes? NO. You’ll need both, and a suitcase fills super quick when stacking books, so you better make a choice between all your precious paperbacks.
Also keep in mind that some signings will put a limit on items you can have signed by an author, so choose wisely.
It’s nice to keep in mind as well that a few prolific authors have + 20 books published and I know some of us hardcore fans have ALL the books ( some even have different editions of the same book), and as awesome and cool the opportunity is to get them all signed, I personally think it’s not being fair to all the other readers queuing behind you. Maybe have a few signed and come back later if the author is free or the queue is a little less crowded? This is just a suggestion, not an universal rule! 🙂
– 1 book / author ( tough one. Let me know if you can ever make a choice. I still can’t.)
– 1st book of your favorite series
– Same book you had signed at a previous signing, it can be fun to have multiple signatures from your fave author, ask them to add the date next to it, a little like a Visa stamp on a passeport of sorts. ( I’m doing this with my Christina Lauren books and it’s fun!)
– Bring book plates. For all the books you wanted to bring but couldn’t because of the weight / size left in your suitcase(s). It can be a great alternative, you can design and print special book plates to match the book or series or bring blank ones. Book plates are basically a sticker or cardboard to put in your book. ( I like to print them on cream colored cardstock better, it makes a great bookmark for your book and anytime you’ll open it to read it you’ll have the pleasure to read your personalized author’s inscription. )
Here are an example of the ones I’ll be bringing to my next signing.
(Free download at the end of this post.)
– Bring a new e-reader cover / case and a Sharpie and ask all authors to sign it. It makes a great souvenir. Alternatively you can have it signed by your book friends from all around the globe.
– Have a special tote bag or a tee-shirt designed for the occasion or just a white canvas tote and ask authors to sign it with a sharpie. Once home, iron it and it’ll keep the ink for… a long time! Very cool keepsake! ( Plus you get to carry your books with style! )
– Bring a Polaroid Camera. And snap instant selfie pictures of you and your favorite author, have it signed and put it in your book back home. ( I have this one :Fuji Instax Mini 8 camera + Pack of 20 shots but plan on try the Polaroid brand because I prefer the format and the shots are cheaper : Polaroid Snap Instant Camera + Pack of 30 Shots ) You can also snap fun selfies with your book friends, this is THE best !
TRAVEL AND ACCOMODATIONS.
So you bought your tickets, if you attend a signing locally (lucky you !) you’ll only have to focus on organizing your books and future reads. But if you’re attending an event a little farther, or even internationally, then the first thing to think about is how You’re going to travel and where you’re going to stay.
– Check which of your book friends are attending, if you are lucky, one of them is living near and you can make travel plans together or as a group. If you opt for a road trip, it could really make all the difference !
– Join the Event’s Facebook group if they have one. You can connect with readers or online friends there. You’ll gain a roommate and a new book friend in the process.
– Use Google Flights to track the best flight prices.
– If you have book friends attending, why not share a hotel room and divide the costs?
– Another alternative if you are a small group of friends, is to check websites like AirBnB or TripAdvisor and rent an apartment together. This option tends to cost less than a hotel room in most cases but be aware that most hosts only take reservations for 3 days minimum. It’s my favorite option, because after the signing or the day before, we can all chill out together, chat and enjoy drinks safely, “at home”.
BRING SOME FANART.
If you’re a creative person then do bring a few of your creations to gift your favorite authors. It can be small tokens, prints, postcards, drawings, funny memes. They’ll get a kick out of it, seeing how their story inspired you to create something from it.
I’ll be traveling to Berlin next month and if you are a regular of this blog, stay sharp, a special personalized giveaway is coming to you soon !
Stay tuned for part 2, DAY OF THE SIGNING tips, I’ll help you get ready to work the room the most efficiently possible! (I know, it totally sounded dirty.)
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)