Friday, September 22, 2017

Six Things Writers Need to Bring to a Book Signing

Writing, Book Signing, S.R. Karfelt, Nobody Told Me
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

A few years ago I joined Toastmasters. I thought it'd be a good idea to brush up on speaking techniques for book marketing purposes. It seemed that every writer conference I attended was full of communications majors and I found myself lacking. Although I'm not shy, I do tend to speak just like I write—with a lot of thought, an explorers mentality, and an occasional meander down a rabbit trail. It's never a problem with the written word, thanks to rewrites and editors, but during a speech I didn't think it would work. 

Toastmasters is wonderful. I loved every meeting. In fact I'd about made up my mind to go to the international convention that year in Kuala Lumpur.

That's why I quit going. It took time away from writing and I found myself losing focus. Writing takes a lot of time, and I find protecting my writing time to be one of my biggest challenges. Since I write without any real outline, because I like to surprise myself as well as the reader when the story unfolds, it takes me a bit longer to write a novel. I still make my deadlines thanks to obsession and night writes, but I don't have time or resources to go to Kuala Lumpur, workshops, research trips, and write a book once or twice a year. 

In order to write I've had to give up things like television and a social life and cleaning my house. 

What I've found is that I don't need to be a communications major when I talk to people. I need to be genuine. It's about the readers, not me, and fortunately I'm a good listener. I'm an introvert but I love everyone one person at a time. I like to hear their stories, what they're reading, and what they have to say. So I ask questions, and listen, and when I'm asked a question I simply answer it. Honestly. 

Since I do spend an inordinate amount of time in the total immersion that is my writing style, I'm thrilled when the opportunity to chat with someone comes up. If we're going to be talking about reading or my books I'll be somewhere around seventh heaven. 

Tomorrow I have a book signing, and I've already packed up all the things I want to take with me. I wear one of the writing t-shirts I love and comfy pants that aren't in the least bit flattering. But this is me, and I need pockets for things like pencils, a pencil sharpener, a little notebook, and my phone, because even if I love to write with pencils I am into tech too.

My goal is to be approachable. Let's chat. I really do want to know what you're reading because I like to read too!

Since I wrote my last book my husband has taken to saying things like, "You look like a writer today." Since that usually means a couple scarves and pencils in my hair, I know he doesn't mean it as a compliment, but I take it as one just the same. This last book was non-fiction and took me many night writes and months to complete. I think it triggered some sort of epiphany where I accepted my inner writing nerd with open arms. It may have looked like I'd given up on looks entirely, but that was an illusion. I simply had to prioritize. 

Now that the book is out and I'm cleaning up the fallout of being so absorbed for nine months, I'm also focusing out getting out into the world. My plan is to catch up on current events (wait, that was a mistake so never mind about that!), hit book stores, and talk to people.

Yes, socializing and even housework are back for a limited time only.

The next couple of months I have several signings booked, and I'm looking forward to them before diving deep into the next project. I've spent some time thinking about book signings and planning what to take. My goal is to keep it as simple as possible, but these are the five things I think are important to take.

  1. Your attention. Listen when someone is talking to you. Don't worry about what you're going to say next. Listen. Ask questions. Be sincere. 
  2. For signing books I take a Sharpie marker. Some book stores provide them, but I take my own because I prefer the fine point Sharpie pens.
  3. Bookmarks. Readers of actual books like bookmarks. You can also give a signed one to those ebook readers in the crowd. I give bookmarks to anyone I chat with or who wanders by. I bring bookmarks to match whatever book I'm signing, and they have my contact information on them.
  4. Scrap paper. This is so everyone can write their name down and I'll get it right. When multi-tasking, I find this crucial. I take part of one of those little blocks of paper and tear one off for each person.
  5. A list for people to sign up for my mailing list.  
  6. A cheat-sheet for me with ideas on what I might want to write inside books I'm signing. When I'm talking to people, sometimes I blank on what I want to say. With this book in particular (it's about dementia) I want to write something different for someone who's lost a loved one to the disease, or works as a caregiver, or a myriad other scenarios. So I've spent some time thinking about this. 

Writing, Book signing,
If you're a writer, tell me what you think is important to take to a book signing, and if you're a reader, I'd really love to know what you think about author events? Have you attended one? Who'd you get to see?! 

I'd love to go to one for Jeannette Walls who wrote The Glass Castle or Diana Gabaldon of Outlander


  1. A wonderful post with full of information. I enjoyed reading your post .i heard about toastmaster in your post. Will try to observe it more closely. Thank you for the post.