Performance-at-Green-Apple-300x225Thanks to author Kat Varn for this guest post!

As a newly published author, I knew I would eventually have to face a public appearance at a bookstore. I knew I’d have to do a book signing one day, and then it happened.

The weekend before I was to vacation in San Francisco, I isolated myself to dig up any online advice I could find on ‘how to perform at a book signing.’ My publisher had hinted they were trying to get me a signing while I was on the west coast.

As I jumped from website to website, my stomach nervously cringed. My inexperience raised questions faster than I could find the answers.

Ten days later, I was planning my reading/appearance at the Green Apple Bookstore at 6th and Clement Street. My husband and I took a cab to preview the location and get direction from our contact. The reading room was amazing and intimate. That brought my performance terror down a notch.

AmeeraCoverFront-200x300While lunch gurgled in my stomach, I made a trip to Kinkos to print documents, including a blog post I wanted to open with. I exhaled in an effort to get my nerves off the ledge as I dressed. I’d decided that I would always perform in my favorite red glitter stilettos. It would help me get in character—author.

Any script that I may have thought I’d prepared went out the window. The event was relaxed, spontaneous and I loved the questions.

So, what did I learn from my first book signing?

  • Have fun engaging with the readers! Accept the spotlight but share the stage with potential followers. I wanted the room to feel like they were sitting with me in my living room.
  • Prepare but be flexible. To read or not to read? I felt the pulse of the room and used the reading materials I’d marked in my book, but had that blog ready if I needed it.
  • Let EVERYONE know where you’ll be. If this had not been so last minute, I would have used my social media more. One of the attendees turned out to be an old acquaintance I met on a dive trip in 2005. She saw the signing on Facebook only a couple hours before the event. Another other new reader was associated with my publisher and book coach. Subsequently, she followed me with a message on Twitter.
  • Thank the organizer. I brought San Francisco’s Ghirardelli chocolate for the staff. I followed up with a thank you and tagged their bookstore in photos online.

Having experienced my first book promotion performance, I look forward to another. And yes, I will be wearing my glittery red heels!

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23 thoughts on “Four Things Learned at My First Book Signing

  • September 20, 2013 at 6:05 am
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    I loved your article Shari because your comments and like JM Bolton I remember one book signing where the weather was terrible and one person showed up. I’m much more social media savvy, so hopefully that won’t happen in the future. BTW, I have a new book coming out in a few weeks and would love it if you told your followers about it. My book is Raising Your Daughter Through the Joys, Tears & HORMONES! It’s about building & repairing relationships between mothers & daughters. Presales are taking place now at:

    http://raisingyourdaughterpresale.eventbrite.com/

    Thanks in advance for your support!
    C. Lynn Williams

    • September 20, 2013 at 9:13 am
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      Wonderful C Lynn and one of our past clients was Dr. Deanna Brann – who writes in a related – mother in law, daughter in law arena — y’all might try connecting for some synergy and cross promotion? Deanna’s website is http://www.drdeannabrann.com/ – Good luck!

  • September 17, 2013 at 7:38 am
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    PS. I never wear high heels (anymore). They’re an invention of the devil designed to kill your feet. And I’m already just short of 6 feet tall. Heels … well, look up the biological signification of the female form in high heels sometime when you have nothing better to do. (But they are beautiful, aren’t they?)

    • September 17, 2013 at 8:02 am
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      I’m with you, darlin’… they are the work of the devil (and as legend has it, that’s why they’d be so pretty, lol).

  • September 17, 2013 at 7:33 am
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    Four things I learned from my first book signing:
    1) No body knows who you are.
    2) Maybe two people will come just to meet you, and one is your publicist.
    3) Most males know more about your business than you do, and they seem to delight in showing you everything you do wrong.
    4) You’re lucky to sell one book — well, I actually sold three that time.
    And this is back when my books were published by DelRey. The experience was a great disappointment. Now, is it possible that people with autism smell wrong? I’m a reasonably attractive female and I have good manners (thanks to my mother who didn’t believe in disabilities), but people seem to find me repellent and I have no idea what’s going on in their heads. They look at my books, mutter something, and move on to buy a book from the woman whose daughter has been missing for 20 years and how she’s still looking. Or the man who wrote a book about how he went blind. You’d think they’d delight in some good old adventures in space with a dash or romance. I remember I gave a book to a young man who looked interested but said he couldn’t afford to buy a copy. He felt so guilty that he went away and came back with money to pay for the book after all. Hummm … I put little faith in book signings. They cost me gas and time and rarely make sales. That said, I’m signing books this weekend at a Jazz Festival. Go figure …

    • September 17, 2013 at 8:07 am
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      LOL… famed author Sandra Brown tells the story of a signing where she sat alone all day at a mall and finally someone from across the point shouted and pointed and ran over… to ask if that last brownie on the plate was free…

      But that’s where social media comes in, too – Another relatively new author I know, Millie West, had a signing at B&N this weekend – she and I put the word out there and she sold 39 books! Now, that may not seem like a lot to some folks, but to those of us who’ve experienced the 6 and under sales, it’s quite steady, eh?!

      Which jazz festival? Let’s tell the world!

  • September 13, 2013 at 10:37 pm
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    How many folks do you think get Jacquie right??? Red stilettos spell success, no matter where you wear them 🙂

    • September 15, 2013 at 7:54 pm
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      I think Jacquie wears all stilettos well but they just embody the fantastic spirit of a strong and loving woman.

      • September 15, 2013 at 9:54 pm
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        Yeah, and to me they embody the spirit of someone willing to endure great pain for great shoes 🙂 Watching my mother endure bunyons and surgery pretty much sealed the deal for me.. Y’all are brave!!!

  • September 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm
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    Great post! Thanks.

    • September 15, 2013 at 7:57 pm
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      Always a relief to dispel the mystery of the unknown– even though the mysterious unknown has its own kind of journey.

  • September 13, 2013 at 12:23 pm
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    Nice article. Thank you for sharing.

    • September 13, 2013 at 8:05 pm
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      It was quite the first time experience! Thanks for reading.

  • September 13, 2013 at 11:39 am
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    Great post. I’d add to always ask the spelling of a name when you’re personalizing books (Shawn? Shaun? Sean? Or, Gene? Jean? Jeanne?) I still have one made out to Otis- he spelled it Odis. I carry it to signings and start by offering it to anyone in the audience named Otis-with a “T.”

    • September 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm
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      Hilarious, Mike and yes – someone ALWAYS spells mine wrong 🙂

  • September 13, 2013 at 11:17 am
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    Kat,
    Everything we do is scary until we do it. Love the glittery red heels idea! Character interviews are fun too.
    Congratulations on your first step out of the proverbial box. May you have many more.
    Ginger Marks

    • September 13, 2013 at 7:41 pm
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      Becoming a character always takes off my jitters and gives me a great excuse to wear my red glitter shoes.

  • September 13, 2013 at 10:17 am
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    Wonderful post! We just did our first public appearance too. We were at our local Library on a panel of four self-publishers. We were very nervous and like you, we had made notes, brought book markers with our information on them to give out and we picked out the subject of “Finding a good Editor” as our topic. We had a great crowd there. All of them were very eager to talk to all the authors about the process of self-publishing books. They were all working on or had ideas for a book. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and they were eagerly jotting down notes. They appreciated us being there so much and really made us feel comfortable. We are now ready for our next public appearance without the nerves.

    • September 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm
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      Yay! The JB Bonds team of sisters Brenda and Jane are getting some AMAZING reviews and feedback out there on their first book – continued success, ladies!

      • September 13, 2013 at 8:02 pm
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        Trying to get the living room or community table feel can really help with both sides of the room getting the most out of each other’s experiences. Congrats!

    • September 13, 2013 at 2:28 pm
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      Done a gazillion readings and they’re so much more fun than sitting alone with a blank screen. For two books, I had my dog with me, so that was the best ice-breaker. I say also- use readings to build your email list- take names, send folks to yr website to sign up, but not everyone is tech savvy or twitter-able, so I circulate a signup list.. And if you’re referring people to good hand-holding editors, remember me!
      LB

      • September 13, 2013 at 6:58 pm
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        Excellent point on the list building, Louise — something few authors remember to do!

        • September 13, 2013 at 8:04 pm
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          I can’t stress editing enough to anyone wanting to write a solid work. I’ve heard of authors bringing a pretty notebook for a signup list as well.

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