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The 9 Dos and Don'ts of Book Signing Events Book signing events are a great way to promote an author's work, engage with readers and gain new fans — but they can also be intimidating if you're not prepared.

By Lynda Sunshine West Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As an author, book signing events can be a lot of fun and create some killer marketing hoopla on your social media to get more people interested in your book. They are also a great way to connect with readers, promote your work, and boost your sales.

One thing to note is that a book signing event isn't like the movie Field of Dreams. Just because you build it, that doesn't mean they will come. You have to actually spend time advertising your book signing event and then hound your friends to show up. Yeah, I know. That's not why you wanted to be an author. You want to share your message with the world. Well, marketing is part of getting your message out there. To make the most of these events, you'll need to plan ahead, be prepared and follow some key dos and don'ts.

At Action Takers Publishing, we love helping our authors plan and execute successful book signing events. Here are our top tips for making your next book signing event a smashing success.

Related: 14 Easy Ways Authors Can Promote Their Books

DO plan ahead

Just like any other event, if you want your book signing event to succeed, it will require careful planning and preparation. First, choose a date and location that will attract your target audience. If your target audience is college students, ensure your event is around their school schedule. Reach out to bookstores, libraries, coffee shops and other venues well in advance to secure a spot.

Don't rely solely on the venue to market your book signing event. After all, YOU are the one hosting the event, and you want to help them get some business, right? Make sure to promote your event on social media, through email newsletters, on your website, and even on event sites like Eventbrite or Meetup.

Take a lesson from the Boy Scouts® and Girl Scouts® and BE PREPARED. Prepare your materials ahead of time. Bring plenty of copies of your book, business cards and any promotional materials you want to distribute. If you have a course you are selling that relates to your book, ask the venue if you can sell your course on-site. You might even consider offering the venue an affiliate fee if you sell anything at their venue. Ensure your books are priced correctly and that you have a system for processing payments.

DO arrive early and be organized

The early bird catches the worm. Arrive at your event early to set up your table, display your materials and familiarize yourself with the space. Even though you may have visited the venue occasionally, it wasn't as an author. This puts a new perspective on the venue. Make sure your table is eye-catching and professional-looking, with a banner or sign featuring your name and book cover.

Set up a sign-up sheet or create a QR Code for readers who want to stay in touch or be notified of future events. This is gold.

Dress appropriately, bring a pen and have a plan for how you will personalize each book. Make sure you have a system for keeping track of book sales and processing payments. We use Stripe, but there are other platforms like PayPal, Square, Venmo and many more. Make it as easy as possible for readers to buy from you. You may want to bring a small gift or prize to give away to attendees (if that's your thing).

Related: 5 Things to Do After You Publish Your Book

DO engage with your audience

The key to a successful book signing event is to engage, engage, engage. Be friendly, approachable and genuine. But, if you're not usually friendly, this may be interpreted as fake. If you can pull it off, go for it. Start conversations with readers, ask them about their interests and what intrigues them about your book, and answer their questions about it.

If you're nervous, take a few deep breaths before responding. The worst thing that can happen is that you get diarrhea of the mouth, and you run on and on like a runaway freight train. It's hard to pull into the station once the train takes off.

Offer to 'autograph' their books and personalize each one with a message or quote. This personalization method works wonders. If you stare deeply into their eyes (and soul) for two seconds, you'll attain an instant bond and connection. Experiencing that special moment with your readers makes them feel extra special.

You may also want to offer a brief reading or talk about your book to draw in more attendees. Make sure to practice your presentation beforehand and time it so that it fits within the allotted time frame.

Related: 6 Smart Techniques to Connect With Influential People

DO follow up with attendees

They say, "The fortune is in the follow-up." If that is the case, why is it that, according to IRC Sales Solutions, only 8% of people follow up five times or more after a first encounter. Fear of rejection, not knowing what to say, or having a terrible automation system in place are a few of the "reasons/excuses" people use for not following up. Be part of that 8% and become a rock star.

After your event, make sure to follow up with attendees. Create a follow-up tracking system and track. Knowing your numbers is crucial in achieving the success you're looking for. Send a thank you email or a personal note to everyone who attended (don't forget to capture their mailing addresses if you will be sending them a card), and include a link to your website and social media pages. Encourage readers to leave reviews of your book on online retailers or book review websites.

DO take lots of pictures

A book signing event is a special moment for an author and their fans. By taking pictures, you can capture those memories and preserve them for years to come. Posting your photos on social media can help promote your book and increase your online following. Your raving fans who couldn't attend the event live can still feel a connection to you and your work by seeing pictures of the event.

Additionally, using hashtags and tagging relevant people or organizations can help increase visibility and reach a wider audience (don't forget to tag your venue - they are looking for publicity, too). Having pictures of your book signing event can also increase the likelihood of press coverage (especially if the signing is at a local shop). News outlets and publications may be more likely to cover the event if they have photos to accompany their coverage. This can lead to increased exposure for your book and your brand.

DON'T forget to promote your event

Promotion is crucial to the success of your book signing event. Marketing is the #1 area most authors and entrepreneurs fail. The trends in marketing are constantly changing, so it's hard to keep up with everything.

Related: How to Use Webinars to Promote Your Book

DON'T be unprepared

Arriving at a book signing event unprepared can be a disaster. Ensure you have everything you need, from books to payment processing equipment. If you plan to use a mobile payment system, ensure you have a reliable internet connection. Bring backup equipment (like pens and paper) in case of technical difficulties.

DON'T be pushy

While engaging with your audience is important, don't be too pushy or aggressive. It's gross, and most people don't respond well to it. Remember, you're representing your brand and your book. Let readers approach you, and be respectful of their time and interests.

Avoid interrupting conversations or monopolizing someone's time. If someone isn't interested in your book, don't take it personally and move on to the next potential reader. You'll find plenty of people who are genuinely interested in what you've written.

DON'T forget to have fun

Book signing events can be stressful, but don't forget to have fun! Enjoy the opportunity to connect with readers, share your work, and promote your brand. Remember that the more relaxed and approachable you are, the more likely readers will stop and talk to you. Consider bringing a friend or family member to help you manage your table and provide support. Ensure they know how much you're charging for an autographed copy of your book, and ask them to take many pictures.

Lastly, book signing events can be an excellent way to connect with readers, promote your work, and boost your sales. However, to make the most of these events, authors need to plan ahead, be prepared, and follow some key dos and don'ts.

Lynda Sunshine West

CEO of Action Takers Publishing

She ran away at 5 years old and was gone a week. At 51, she broke through one fear a day for a year. Lynda Sunshine West is the Founder of Action Takers Publishing, a Speaker, 22-Time #1 Int’l Bestselling Author, Contributing Writer at Entrepreneur and Brainz Magazines and Executive Film Producer.

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