Monday, December 14, 2015

The Multi-Author Book Signing - What you Need and How to Stand Out

Ever been to the North Central bus terminal in Mexico City? I'm not sure if it's still like this, but when I was there in 1993, once you got off of your bus and wandered outside, you were immediately bombarded by dozens of men offering you a ride into the city in their taxis. Now whenever I'm at a multiple-author book signing, I feel like we (the authors) are the taxi men haling potential readers to come check out our cabs.

Little-known fact; Van Halen's concert rider expressly forbid brown taxi-cabs within the city limits.

Here are some of the basics of setting up shop at a signing.

Aside from your books, you'll need a table. Otherwise, it gets to be a long day juggling all of those books on your lap. Most author events provide tables and chairs, but if not (and you should find this out beforehand) bring a simple, easy to carry folding table. A table cloth is a good idea, too, since some of the provided tables have seen better days. (A dental mirror comes in handy to surreptitiously check the underside of the table if you're hankering for some well-chewed gum.)

Many authors bring a dish of candy as a way of enticing potential readers. Hershey's Kisses are popular. So are fun-size candy bars or Lifesavers. Does this result in more sales? Probably not, especially since it seems everyone does this now. But it doesn't hurt.

The old basket-o-cash, however, is still popular with the crowds.

Speaking of cash, you'll need to make change, so bring some tens, fives and ones (if needed). I include sales tax in my prices and back it out later when paying taxes. That way I don't have to deal with coinage. Make sure you keep good records of your sales so you don't get in trouble with THE MAN.

Pictured: THE MAN

A fairly new development is the credit card reader app, which allows you to take credit cards via your computer, tablet or smart phone. I use a Square Reader; it charges a small percentage of the sale, but it's worth it, since some people no longer carry cash.

Bring business cards if you have them, and bookmarks, too. Signed glossy photos of you straddling a horse naked are optional.

As far as displaying your books, you can do the simple book-stack method, where you just...stack your books. I recommend some sort of plastic display thingies to prop a few books up to catch the eye. Some people have a large color copy of their book cover displayed so that it can be seen from a distance. You can add some reviews or endorsements to this to provide a little more enticement.

The 'shove-your-book-in-a-jar' method has become more and more popular over the years, too.
Don't forget to bring a pen! Bring a couple in case the one you're using runs out of ink. Or you can always just 'borrow' one from the author sitting next to you when he or she isn't looking.

Over the years, I've seen a lot of different author table displays, some great, some not-so-great. Here's the thing, though...the way you display your books isn't the most important part of enticing a reader to buy your book.

The most important things you can do are:

Make eye contact.
Say hello.
Ask them how they're doing.
Ask them what they like to read.
If your book might fit the bill, tell them about it.
Maybe they'll buy, maybe they won't. Don't worry about it. Just keep trying.

And if all else fails, jump up on your table and yell, "TAXI!"

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