Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Seven Tips for Book Signings

by Patricia Bradley
Me @ B&N with two author friends
Book signings. You either love 'em or hate 'em. 

A few weeks ago I had back-to-back book signings at two Barnes and Noble bookstores, and I thought I'd pass along what I learned. 

  • Wear something comfortable, especially shoes if you plan to walk around the store greeting people. I wore heels. Believe me, it doesn't look good when you walk like Chester from Gunsmoke. 
  • Make sure your chair is the right height. I tried a stool first and had to bend over to sign books. Then I tried a chair that was too low. Now I know how little kids feel when they are in a grownup chair trying to reach the table. I ended up putting the books in my lap to sign.
  • Make eye contact with the customers. Did you know there were some customers who never turned their head as they walked by, totally absorbed by a stand of dictionaries to their left?  
  • Don't feel bad when customers go way out of their way to the coffee shop by circling behind you even though walking in front of you is a  shorter and more direct path.
  • Pray for a downpour that lasts at least an hour. Pretty soon, customers get bored and decide to go talk to the author. Some even buy books.
  • Always smile. And be sure to tell passing customers you are the author. You would not believe the people who, when you say you are the author, will stop in their tracks and actually look at you and say, "You wrote those?" while pointing to your stack of books. Most of the time, those customers will buy your book.
  • Take tea cakes. Especially take tea cakes. Older readers remember tea cakes from their childhood and younger ones get to try something new. Be sure to check out the recipe below.
And those are my tips for book signings. 

Now I'd like to hear from you. As readers, when you go to a bookstore and an author is signing books, do you stop and talk?

And authors, do you have any additional tips? 

Old Fashioned Tea Cakes


Tea Cakes

1 cup sugar
1 stick butter, softened
¼ cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups self-rising flour
I always add a dash of nutmeg. Cinnamon can also be added.

Combine sugar, butter, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour gradually. Drop by spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. Press out, using a piece of wax paper sprayed with cooking spray and a glass. Bake at 375° until browned.

Icing (For a book signing, I usually leave the icing off)
Vanilla:
1 box Confectioners sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Mix well and add heavy cream (I often used Pet Milk) one tablespoon at a time until smooth and spreading consistency.

Lemon:
1 box Confectioners sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1/3 cup lemon juice, more if needed to thin
Mix well and beat until spreading consistency.

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48 comments:

  1. Those were very good tips. I don’t have a bookstore in my little town that has had ant authors visit. I’ve never been in one that had a visiting author. I would think location would be important.
    Love your books Pat. Looking forward to the new one!

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    1. Thank you, Paula! I wish you could have come to mine!!

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  2. I've never been to an author signing but I would love to meet some of my favorite authors...like you!!!
    lhanberry1[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. I'd love to meet all of my fans! What part of the country do you live in, Linda? Who knows, I might get there some day!

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  3. Hi Patricia. I enjoyed reading ypur post and I apprecite that you've shared your recipe for tea cakes. Yes, I stop to talk to authors. When I asked authors to come to our library I found that 1. most were very supportive of libraries, 2. they needed positive affirmation for their work and 3. even though they are gifted with words and stories they are really just like us!
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Oh, yes, Connie! Writers are just like you. I was a reader long before I became a writer. It was God's gift of story and His prompting that started me on my writing journey. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. I stop and talk to the authors. May I suggest that you have bookmarks to hand out for free....and your table should be pleasant to the eye, not a cluttered mess. 😊
    debsbunch777(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Yes, Debbie. Bookmarks are excellent tools for a book signing. I usually sign mine. Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Yes! It's so much fun to get to personally interact with the authors.

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  6. I have been to a few signings where I am there to purposely meet the author, so I am direct and speak right to them. I have never just happened on an author that i have never heard of that is signing books . But if I had, I would of been the avoider. Now I will know batter and try to at least make eye contact and say hi.

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    1. Thank you, Nancy! Most authors are like me and want to interact with readers. We don't actually get any money for signing books--when someone buys a book, it's the the bookstore who profits. We're there to get to know our readers better. :-)

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  7. Authors almost never get to our area. However, we are visiting Hawaii and went to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Park. There were two Pearl Harbor survivors there selling their books. Of course I had to stop and talk to them (and buy books).

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    1. Great, Susan! I know you enjoyed getting to know them.

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  8. I've met Lynne Gentry. She even gave a talk at a local church. I wish I had the opportnity to attend more book signings. It's fun to interact with the author!

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    1. And it's fun to interact with readers, Caryl! If I ever make it to South Texas, maybe we'll meet!

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  9. Always!! I collect books signed by the author, so I'm always looking for new books and friendly new authors! I'm currently at 96... hoping to hit 100 soon. I wish I could say I'd met all of the authors too!
    I also like to see what "swag" is important to them or that they feel like compliments their story.

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    1. Ashley, almost a hundred books signed by the authors! I think that must be a record. Other than bookmarks, my swag usually consists of teacakes. :-)

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  10. I have never been to a book signing. Knowing me, I'd be one of those checking out the dictionaries! LOL. Now if it was an author I knew and liked their books, I just might stop by and say hi, especially if there are tea cakes! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Teacakes are a great icebreaker. It's why I try and take some to every book signing. Thanks for stopping by, Anne.

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  11. I will have to remember these if I ever become an author and have a book signing, especially the one about avoiding high heels. Now that may sound like a joke coming from a man; however, if I wrote a Western novel, I might think wearing cowboy boots and hat to my book signing would be the thing to do. Now I think maybe nice loafers might be better. The only way I could take tea cakes would be if my wife made them. Since I don't foresee writing a book in my future, I still find your suggestions helpful. As a consumer, I think we are often intimidated to approach an author. Thus we go the long way around. In my case, I probably would not go to a book signing unless it was someone like you who I have become acquainted with over the past year. I would enjoy meeting you at a book signing.

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    1. And I would love to meet you! Maybe one day. And I can picture you in heels, er cowboy boots, that is.

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  12. If I’m going to a Book Signing I’m all about having the opportunity to interact with the author!! I can’t imagine passing that up. It almost seems a lack of good manners. Also, what author goes to the trouble of making their own Tea Cakes to bring to a Book Signing? How DELICIOUS!! My paternal Grandmother used to make them & just the mention of them makes me hungry!! Thanks for having Book Signings & being so approachable to your readers. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I love interacting with people, so book signings are easy for me. I think a lot of authors are introverts and it's hard to put yourself out there if you are. Thanks for stopping by, Lisa.

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  13. Haha, I love your sense of humor and humility about this, Pat. :) Great tips, too! I had no idea it would help to tell passersby that you're the author. I would assume that if I see someone sitting behind a table of books at a bookstore, but I guess not everyone does. Thanks!

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    1. Jerusha, I assumed that, too until too many people gave me that wide-eyed stare, pointed to my books and said, "You're the author? You wrote these?"

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  14. I have been to a couple of book signings. Each time the author read some extracts aloud. This seemed to draw quite a crowd.


    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    1. Mary, that's a really good idea...and I have done that at library signings. It's a little hard to do a reading at a big bookstore, though. Thanks for stopping by.

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  15. I went to a book signing several years ago (before moving to the country) and loved it. The author was very friendly. There is not a book store near me now.
    My grandmother made tea cakes...love them!

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    1. We have only one bookstore in my small town, but there are several big ones within a hundred miles of me and a few family owned bookstores, too. So glad you had a grandmother who made teacakes!

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  16. I haven't happened upon an author signing but would think that I would chat with them. Our library has a group of authors come in each year and I keep saying that I will go but haven't. When I worked at a small gift shop, we would occasionally have artists who made jewelry come in and I watched people not always engage them and felt bad. By the way, my mother still makes tea cakes and my husband loves them.

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    1. There are a couple of libraries in Mississippi that have authors come in every year, but they are four hours from me and I've always been behind on my deadline when they have it so I haven't been. But one of these days I'm going to make it. Thanks for stopping by, Gloria. You should learn to make the teacakes--it's really easy!

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  17. I love chatting with authors! Nookwormwriter(at)live (dot)com

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    1. Great, Carolyn! I hope to be signing someday near you!

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  18. Hi Patricia! I feel like I'm stalking you...lol! I participate in your blog every week, over here sometimes and other places every once in a while :-)

    As for book signings; I've never seen an author at a bookstore. Of course because I live in a small town, the only bookstore I would go in was our Christian one & that closed two summers ago. I did go to our county fair a few years ago and there was an author sitting at a table. She looked so lonely so I went over to talk to her. Now mind you, she wrote in secular fantasy books, which is not my genre. BUT, I did have a nice time talking to her. Even though she wrote books I would never read, she seemed very friendly and outgoing. I asked her a little bit about her writing and a few questions that she was happy to answer. It was really fun & I hope I brought a smile to her face at least.

    I had to laugh at some of your observations, like this for example: "Did you know there were some customers who never turned their head as they walked by, totally absorbed by a stand of dictionaries to their left?"....haha!! And food, yeah, food always draws folks...even if they aren't there to talk to you :-)

    Thanks for the fun post & recipe. I'll have to copy this one down for myself and make one time. I like cookies!!! Thank you also for the gift card giveaway.

    Blessings Patricia!

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    1. Not sure if you need this or not but I'll include it anyway:

      teamob4 (at) gmail (dot) com

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    2. Bless your heart, Trixi, for stopping and talking to that poor author. And you can definitely stalk me! (Not that you are. lol) I actually thought one woman was going to run over a small child in her way as she perused the dictionaries. :-)

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  19. Book Signings are great & I'm thrilled to see you have successful ones back to back, comfortable shoes, chairs, or not.
    Your teacakes are good, too. I got to enjoy one.
    You go, girl; you're doing great and writing terrific books.

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    1. Thanks, Delores! Maybe you can go to the next one. :-)

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  20. We don’t get very many authors visit our city but I do try to go when one does visit. And old fashioned tea cakes are one of my husband’s favorites.
    Gail Hollingsworth
    tumcsec(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. It had been a long time since I'd made any, Gail, so I was very pleased when they turned out well. Thanks for stopping by!

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  21. I wish I could have gone to one of your book signings. I love to get my books signed by the author. I love your books. I hate I missed yours. Oh, and my momma loves to make tea cakes.

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    1. Dana, maybe you can come the the MidSouth Christian Writers conference in March and meet a lot of authors! Thanks for stopping by.

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  22. I'd probably only stop by and talk if I was familiar with the author's books.

    frequentreader19(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Good for you, Melanie! Authors love for readers to stop and chat.

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  23. Love the tips.

    Your tea cake recipe looks like what I call biscuits. Thanks for sharing!

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  24. Iola, in the South, biscuits are soft and fluffy...except for mine. They can kill at thirty paces. Really. :-)

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