10 Book Signing Strategies

#1 Used Car Salesman

This person brings a big sign, sometimes balloons, also occasionally music or a microphone. They are calling out to everyone in the store, and sometimes focus on one particular person and really do a hard sell. Before you know it, they are out of books. I personally wonder if the bookstore employees, who say they appreciate this hard work, will ever invite #1 back.

#2 Perks of Selling as a Wallflower

This person waits behind the table patiently, never makes eye contact unless actually addressed, and sometimes brings something else to do, such as knitting, to make the time pass more quickly and less painfully. Sadly, this is probably the closest to my own personal style of signing at a bookstore. I’m there, but I know I’m not going to hard sell and I’m happy to talk, but I’m also not interested in people asking me where the self-help books are.

#3 Giveaway

This person offers some kind of gift to anyone who comes close enough to be bitten. The stakes may range anywhere from a free cruise to a simple bookmark or a chance to win a free copy of said book. The prize may determine the usefulness of the response. If you are giving away a free book, maybe you will get more people who actually read books?

#4 Hansel and Gretel

This person has a bowl of candy set out. Children often come along and take from it, whether or not they are in the market for this book. Sure, you get a lot more people talking to you. But how much of the conversation is to people who are interested in buying books? How much of it is meaningless chit-chat?

#5 The Society of Creative Anachronism

This person has written a book set in a different time period and has come dressed as a character from the book. Often, this person will pretend to be “in character” during any encounters with other humans. Your experience as a potential buyer may range from bemused to frankly a little scared. I don’t think these people are actually insane, even if they may seem to be so.

#6 Girls In the Bathroom

These authors are all seated together and are more interested in catching up on each other’s lives than in engaging potential customers for their books. If you ask for a signature, they may send you a dirty look, refuse to ask your name, and then huffily go back to your conversation. This is sometimes tempting to me, since the main reason I go to book signings is to have fun with my author friends.

#7 Too Cool For School

This person has headphones on and is rocking out to silent music during the entire signing. Everyone around her wonders if she has stepped into the wrong place, but no one dares to demand proof of identity. She might or might not look like the author photo in the back flap of the books.

#8 Next to The Real Author

This person has been seated unfortunately next to the author that everyone is coming for. This would be a great advantage if anyone had any idea that this author was an author and that his books are something other than freebies for the real author. Six hundred people may pass by his books, but he sells not a one.

#9 Magic Show/Pet Show

This person has come as “entertainment.” A dog who does tricks or who signs the books in lieu of the author is one possibility. Others include live singing, or a magic show (possibly by the author, but it may be hard to tell underneath the black cloak and the weird makeup). The gimmick is clear here, and books are streaming out the doors. On the other hand, the bookstore employees are going to have massive cleanup to do afterward.

#10 Crafty Bait and Switch

This person has set up an attractive table with jewelry or other craft supplies with a sign that says “free.” Children and the unsuspecting flock to the table and begin to work. But before they can leave with a finished product, a book is shoved into their hands and they are told that the craft comes “with the book purchase.” Again, book sales are high, but how disgruntled are the customers?