Well, happy Monday everybody. I know people think I’m crazy when I say this, but Monday is still my favorite day of the week. I like that feeling of getting a fresh start every seven days.
But enough about that. I wanted to talk about this weekend.
This weekend I was one of the authors participating in the Columbus Public Library Author Fair. I won’t be to shy to mention that this was my first book signing. I also won’t be to shy to mention that:
1) I should have been doing things like this a year ago.
2) I should have been much better prepared.
Before I get into that stuff, however, let me talk a little about the event itself. It was nice. I’d say there were 12-15 authors spaced out on tables with ample room for their books, signs, business cards, and whatever else they brought. The room was on the lower level of the public library and it was spacious enough to fit the authors, the patrons, and the table full of cookies 🙂 without triggering any warnings from the fire marshal.
I shared a table with fellow Nebraska Writers Guild member, Steve Bruttig, who is the author of First and Foremost: The Book of Origins and Controversies.
What’s interesting (or, more accurately, sad) is that, while I went there hoping to promote Holy Fudgesicles, I didn’t sell a single copy of it. What’s even more interesting (but not sad at all) is that I sold 80% of the anthologies I brought with me. In a few ways, I lucked out because I didn’t really plan to bring any anthologies, and just tossed a few into the box at the last minute.
It was pretty good time, regardless. I love hanging out around other writers and it was pretty neat talking to the non-writers there about what they like to read, and fiction in general.
The most important part of the event more me, however, was to learn. Since this was my first real book signing event (when I spoke at OS Fest 8, I hadn’t yet received the print versions of my book), my real goal was to learn.
And learn I did.
For starters, I thought I was completely prepared for the event. And while I certainly could have been less prepared, there were a ton of small things I overlooked.
So in the interest of education, here they are:
1. Test PayPal Here
I installed the PayPal Here app on my phone and entered all of my inventory. The app could see the card reader too. But then when I swiped a card, guess what happened. “Unable to read card.” Great. I never actually tested the device, so I had to look like a jerk who wouldn’t take credit cards. I totally felt like an idiot when someone had to run and get cash, so I’ll need to test and this problem before the next signing.
2. Take inventory
Like I said, I sold most of the anthologies I brought with me. There were two problems with this. First, I didn’t bring enough anthologies, and second, I didn’t bring the right anthologies. Somehow, the only copies of Alternate Hillarities Volume 1 and Volume 3 I brought were both my signed-by-the-editor contributor copies. I also failed to pack some of the books containing what I consider my best short stories. So next time, I’ll plan way ahead and make sure I bring enough stuff.
3. Know what to say and where to say it
I also came unprepared to actually sign books. (See item # 4 for a really good laugh.) It never occurred to me that I might be signing anthologies, so I didn’t plan ahead and look up proper protocol for that. Do you sign the title page? I did on a few. Do you sign by your story? I did that in a few also. My other problem was that I didn’t think about what I would actually write. I didn’t want to just sign my name, so I used something like “Thanks for reading,” but I didn’t want to say “Thanks for reading” in multiple books and a couple of people bought more than one book. So I had to ad lib. And anyone who has ever heard an uncut version of the podcast will tell you that ad-libbing is not my strong point.
4. Bring a pen
The less said, the better.
5. Make a sign
This was something I hoped to do, but didn’t get it done in time. Some of the writers there had incredible, well-produced promotional signs by their booths. I need to make sure I get that done for next time.
6. Practice the pitch some more
I’ll say that I’m perfectly comfortable pitching my book. As long as it’s to the right person. A YA librarian. A literary agent. A reader in its desired reading age. But if I see someone who I (unjustly) assume wouldn’t want to read my book, my pitch sounded like this: “Oh, it’s just a…um…young adult book.” I might as well have said “Nothing to see here, move along.” So figuring out how to promote my novel to people who might not normally read YA fiction would be a good thing.
7. Drink more water
Before the event, I had about sixteen cups of coffee. (And downed a beer during lunch.) While I was there, I had another four cups of coffee. So dehydrated was I. And for me, dehydration leads to massive, and sometimes mildly distorting, headaches. And in really bad situations a migraine might accompany that. The kind that makes me talk backwards and make everyone around me think I’m having a stroke. So drink more water next time.
But that’s it. All of these are easy fixes and next time I attend an event like this, I will be better prepared.
I had such a great time and want to again thank the Columbus Public Library for supporting local authors and hosting events like this one.
For writers out there, how often do you do book signing? What other advice do you have? And for readers, have you ever attended an author fair? What do you like and what don’t you like to see when you attend one? Leave a comment and let us know!