Expert Round-Up Topic: What essential items do you take with you to a book signing event or speaking engagement?
When attending a book signing event or speaking engagement, bring a set of business cards. Even though most forms of communication have shifted digitally, there’s something to be said about traditional printed business cards. Business cards are an efficient and affordable way to promote your personal brand and make a great first impression as an author. You never know who you might run into at the events you attend—from potential business partners to customers, it’s best to come prepared. With business cards at the ready, you can give attendees something tangible to take away with them. This keeps you at the front of their mind and makes it easy for
them to reach out to you if they want to get in touch.
Bring a stand to display your books. To make sure that your table has a polished and professional appearance, it’s a good idea to invest in a bookstand. This is a more refined approach than simply stacking your books on top of each other, which can leave your space looking a little haphazard. With a bookstand at the ready, you can elevate your appearance as an author and truly impress those in attendance. In turn, this makes attendees more likely to visit your table, more likely to learn more about you as an author, and more likely to purchase the books that you’ve written.
Clearly display your prices with a price sheet. At a book-signing event, it’s likely that you’ll have a pretty long line forming at your table. To make sure that you speak with as many guests and make as many sales as possible, it’s a great idea to clearly list out your prices on the table. The last thing you want to be doing is regurgitating the price of your book over and over again to each and every attendee. Keep it straightforward and easy to discern price at a glance. One of the best ways to do so would be listing prices on a price sheet, or on small price displays kept beside each book on sale.
On the topic of pricing, avoid the temptation of using persuasive pricing techniques like charm pricing, otherwise known as The Rule of Nine. Charm pricing makes sense in most circumstances. It has an immediate psychological impact and encourages customers to spend more. However, this becomes less effective at a book signing. For example, products priced at $19.99 would be difficult for customers to purchase unless you both have exact change. You wouldn’t want something so avoidable getting in the way of your book sales. By pricing your books at round numbers like 10 or 20 dollars, you’ll limit your need to make change and make it simple for customers to buy from you.
1. Copies of your book for sale (ideally pre-sold to the audience ahead of
2. Photographer/videographer to capture footage and photos
3. Something of value to share with the audience that will make them want
more of you.
Whether it’s a book signing or speaking engagement, the items I take with me are the same. Some are more obvious than others, but each item is as essential as the next.
In no order of importance, I always bring a black sharpie (or two just in case), my trusty 32 oz. Hydro Flask filled with water, a backpack with extra copies of my book, a CLIF Bar and a bag of almonds (no one likes a hangry speaker), a pad and pen to write down names and emails of anyone I meet (I’m old school like that), my phone for video and photos, headphones in case I can squeeze in a quick meditation, a spiritual anchor that I can hold in my hand to help me stay grounded, good energy, gratitude—and last but importantly not least, a smile.
First and foremost, have two quality writing pens on hand. You never know when one will fail.
Make sure all the logistics are covered—is a table available or do you need one, and does the host have enough books or should you bring books. Either way, be sure to have plenty of books on hand. Have a stack of each pertinent book on the table, and have a book stand to display the front cover of each book.
If there are multiple authors signing or you are at a show, wear a badge with your name clearly displayed. If you are not a household celebrity, have the word author clearly displayed on the badge. It is helpful to have a small sign with your name on the table as well.
Be friendly and approachable. Smile for each fan. Ask their name. Offer to personalize each book, but don’t be offended if they simply want a signature. Ask the fans to spell each name, as you have just ruined a book if you misspell it. Do not alienate them by giving them a book with a
misspelled name or with the incorrect spelling crossed out.
Take the time to write legibly, especially for personal messages. By writing neatly you are showing your readers you care about them. Writing sloppily sends a message that you don’t care about them.
Art in the Pens
Don’t forget to bring a pen with you when you sign up for email subscriptions. This might be a lower-quality pen than the one you use for signatures. I also recommend taking more than one of these pens in case someone steals one. When choosing a pen for autographing books, use one with quick-drying ink; otherwise, your signature may smudge when you shut the book cover. In terms of colour, I utilise blue ink to contrast with the book’s black and white pages.
Bookmark or Thank-You Cards
A thank-you note or bookmark is a great touch for readers to find once they open your book at home. You may also use that card to promote your other books, social media accounts, and website, as well as to remind people to post a review for your book.
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