Seven Steps to a Successful Signing
Photograph by Edwin Tee
As you read this, I'm in America on tour! Hopefully I am not covered in snow. As an Aussie, I'm not very good at snow. I lack the necessary expertise. I will start by saying that if you're a Pub Crawler, I would absolutely love to see you there! Click here to see if I'm visiting your city -- and if not, you can contact the bookstores to order a signed copy from any of the authors involved.
Snow aside, another area I've had to acquire some expertise recently has been the fine art of book signing. Some of our expert Pub Crawlers were kind enough to teach me some tips and tricks, and now I'm passing along the love. Behold, seven steps to your very own successful book signing!
Step One: Practice Makes Perfect. Even if you feel a bit silly, take a few practice runs at your signature before you try to mass produce it. It doesn't matter if it's completely legible (mine's not), but ideally you want it to look roughly the same each time. You may also want to consider whether you want to use the same signature for signings as you use on checks and credit cards.
Step Two: Post-Its Are Your Friend. When it comes to signing for Catherine, Cathrynne, Katherine, Kathryn and Kahthrun, you're going nowhere fast without a little help. If you're like me, and often signing for people with an accent that's different to your own, it can be even harder to work out the name you just heard over the noise of the bookstore crowd. All it takes is a slight difference in a vowel and you've just turned Simon into Salmon. (That joke works in my accent. If it doesn't in yours, I guess I'm demonstrating the problem.) Having someone from the bookstore or your publisher to make their way along the line and have people write their name on a post-it is a godsend, and saves you from mishearing, or just plain misspelling the name of someone you've known all your life.
Step Three: Bring A Spare. All that said, you will screw up someone's name anyway. At one point at BEA I didn't just spell a name wrong, I wrote another name entirely, and I still couldn't tell you why. I was saved by the sheer coincidence of finding a Karen later on down the queue! I think she was a bit confused when I told her I'd prepared hers earlier. If you're at a bookstore, it's not a bad idea to have one of your author copies in your bag, so you can whip it out and replace one if you mess up.
Step Four: Dress To Impress. This one is pretty frank, but I'm going to say it to you so you don't wish you'd known later. You know that awesome scoop-neck top that looks incredible on you? (I'm probably talking to the ladies here.) That same top can be a liability when you're sitting and leaning forward, and the people you're signing for are standing. I'll never tell anyone what they should or shouldn't wear, and if you want to rock an outfit, then you rock it -- it's just worth checking how your outfit works from that angle, to make sure you're sharing only what you want to share.
Step Five: Make Sure Your Pen Is Mighty. Check in advance your pen isn't going to bleed through the page or rip it. Archival pens are your best bet -- they're tested to make sure they won't fade over time or bleed, and you can get them in lots of different colours.
Step Six: Bring Something Extra. Not everybody who comes to a signing will be in a position to buy a book -- they may just be really keen to hear you speak, or want to meet you, and you don't want them to feel pressured to spend money they don't have on a copy of your book. Bring along a stack of bookmarks or something else you can sign, so everybody gets something. Marie Lu taught me this one, and she's been right more than once.
Step Seven: Send A Message. If you're going to write a message in the front of the book, practice it in advance to see how long it takes to write. The answer is probably going to be longer than you think. My first signing was at BEA 2013. My co-author Meg and I wrote messages in perhaps the first half a dozen ARCs, before our editor lovingly explained that we were going to leave most of the queue disappointed if we kept on at this pace. Go for something that's just a few words -- I love our own Susan Dennard's 'Aim for the knees!' -- and check it won't take too long to write.
And there you have it! I hope my seven steps are helpful to those about to undertake their own signing, and an interesting behind-the-scenes glimpse for readers who might be attending a signing! If you have extra tips and tricks please leave them in the comments below, and I'll hope to see some of you on the road!