Tips to Ensure You Have a Happy Book Signing

by | Writing | 7 comments

“I always do book signings with the same blue pen. That way, if I add a personalised message to a book I’ve already signed, it’ll be in the same colour as my signature.” — John Grisham

Chapters Bookshop

Chapters Bookshop

These tips are from research and from book signings I’ve done in small bookstores and at events. They’ll help you walk away from a book signing pleased.

 Book Signing Tips:

1. Schedule your signing as soon as you have your book’s release date.

• Schedule a face-to-face meeting with the manager, if possible.

• Give the manager one of your promotional postcards with the information necessary to order your book and contact you.

• Ask which are high traffic days and schedule your signing accordingly.

• Obtain the contact information of the person you’ll work with.

Drawing: Basket of Book-related Item

Drawing: Basket of Book-related Item

• Ask what they provide: table, table cloth, table location near traffic, press release, flyers, announcements on their website and social networks.

• Ask if you may bring such items as: banner, poster, a basket of book-related goodies for a drawing, candy, cookies, flyers, and bookmarks.


Between you and the store, provide a welcoming, customer-drawing book signing area. Click to tweet.

2. Promote your signing. Do what you can afford.

• Use your postcards as invitations to readers.

• Print flyers for the store to stuff into customers’ bags several days before the signing.

• Take your flyers to nearby businesses, such as beauty salons. Ask them to display one or keep a stack at their counter.

• Put interesting press releases in local newspapers.

2" x 3.5" Ad

2″ x 3.5″ Ad

 • Purchase a newspaper ad. Example from Calculated Risk.

• Check whether your publisher announces events on their media networks.

• Announce the signing on your website and social media networks.

• Announce the event at gatherings, such as book clubs.

• Ask friends to also do the previous two activities. 

3. Be active at your signing.

• Bring the staff doughnuts or a cake, thanking them for hosting you. Because you remembered them, they may recommend your book.

• Invite customers to an activity at your table, such as a drawing for a basket of goodies.

• Provide candy—chocolate and hard candy.

Dressed as Character from Book Cover (photo by Vie Herlocker)

Dressed as Character from Book Cover (photo by Vie Herlocker)

 • Dress as your character to start conversations. Include your headshot on your banner so customers know you’re the author.

• Stand in front of your table and hand out bookmarks. Invite customers to your table to enter the drawing, to enjoy a cookie or candy, or to take a giveaway.

• Listen to those who want to chat.


• Invite a friend to join you, one who has read and enjoyed your book. She’ll praise your book, hand out bookmarks while you’re signing or chatting, run for more books, and keep you from resembling a wallflower.

  4. Be active after the signing.

• Help clean up.

• Pay for leftover books the store would normally return to your publisher. Publishers may forbid returns if they receive too many.

• Be content with your sales. Even if you sold nothing, you’ve gained exposure. You’ve learned more about signings. You have fodder for your blog. You did the right things.

• Send the manager and staff a thank-you note.

 Even low-selling book signings can be a happy success. Click to tweet.

What tips can you share with us?

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American Christian Fiction Writers

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  1. Sandra Ardoin

    I’ve done a couple of vendor sales with two other local authors. It’s more comfortable than being alone behind that table, plus there are more books available to attract people’s attention. They are there to buy, so they aren’t as shy about stopping by the table. We don’t sell a lot, but as you said, we’re gaining exposure.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Sandra, I’m looking forward to an annual local author book sale in the spring.

  2. Jane Foard Thompson

    Great ideas! I’m filing this away, looking forward to the day I can use them.

    Today I’m going to a book signing for two local Christian authors, and have publicized it with my friends. That is the part we can play in supporting other writers with their book signings.

    I just wish I could be there for one of yours, Zoe.

  3. Carrie Turansky

    Hi Zoe, these are great ideas. I like the idea of bringing a friend or doing a multi-author book signing so you have company and can introduce each other. Making a positive connection with the store manager an staff is also a very important tip. They are the ones who can hand-sell your book to shoppers after you leave and also the ones to decide if they will carry your next book.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      Thanks, Carrie. Someday I’d like to do a signing with other authors. I know it would be fun.

  4. Wendy Woods

    Great tips! I’ve has some great signings and not so great signings. I find the smaller, independent book stores are more welcoming and accommodating than large chain stores. Also, I’ve had success at gift shops…it’s an impulse buy at stores that sell things besides books! You don’t have to compete so much with the other ten thousand in the store! Craft shows are also pretty good- be selective in choosing. Weigh the cost of a booth versus the profit. But, as you said, it’s not always about how many you sell, but the exposure and connections you make with readers.

    • Zoe M. McCarthy

      I’d like to try a gift shop as you suggest, Wendy. I have a friend who has a gift shop/art studio. Hmmm.

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