Before I attended my first real book signing last month—you can see the update here—there was a lot of chatter going on amongst the authors about all sorts of things. How many books are you taking? Are you offering a discount price? What sort of swag do you have? What pen do you sign with? What are you wearing? The list was endless, and given that all of the authors are independently published, a lot of the questions were about things we didn’t know, because we’d never attended a book signing before.
The one thing that came up that a few of the authors hadn’t considered, and that stuck with me, was: How do you sign your books?
This might seem like a silly question, but in actual fact it’s not. In this day and age, all of us, whether we’re authors or not, need to be careful with anything regarding our identity. Unfortunately there will always be someone who is willing to take advantage of you, me, the guy next door. Some of the authors in attendance had pen names, so they weren’t as much at risk, but anyone publishing their books under their own name needs to be aware of how they sign their books.
My piece of advice is: don’t ever sign anything that isn’t a legal document with your real signature.
That includes signing books. I have a special signature I use just for my books, because I don’t want to run the risk of my signature falling into the wrong hands. I know it’s a pretty horrible way to look at things, but like I said, we all have to protect ourselves.
So, if you’re considering self-publishing, or even if you’re traditionally published, come up with a way to sign your books that reflects you and your personality, but won’t compromise your safety. I actually like my book signature better than my real one 🙂
Now, I don’t claim to be an expert on book signings, because I’ve attended an entire one! But a few things I came away with from the day are:
Don’t take too many books – there were authors giving books away because they didn’t want to take them home.
Don’t take too much swag – this surprised me. I thought everyone would be taking whatever they could get their hands on, but all the fans were very civilised, and most of them only took what they were genuinely interested in. I thought I wouldn’t have enough, but I in fact had plenty.
Do brand yourself – wear something in theme with one or all of your books. I noticed the authors who stood out were wearing their work as well.
Do take some form of exhibition banner – I had small table banners, and I think I got a little lost in the sea of big stand-up banners. Although, I didn’t want the excess luggage on the plane, so my small banners were perfect for travel.
Do encourage people to join your mailing list – this is a great marketing tool. Offer an incentive to sign up. I had a giveaway on the day and was amazed at how many people put their name down.
Do make sure you know what message you want to write in your books – I had this all sorted for my Tate Chronicles books, but Immagica had completely slipped my mind. The first book I signed on the day took me about five minutes to think of something. I should have been more prepared!
Do come prepared to sell yourself – this was something I wasn’t very confidant with, and I was lucky I had an awesome assistant who did a lot of the talking for me. But as authors we need to be able to talk about out work in a coherent manner and not “um, yeah it’s about angels, and um…” 🙂
Have you attended a book signing as either an author or a fan? I’d love to hear about your experience.
K. A. Last is a YA author of Fall For Me, Sacrifice and Immagica. She drinks lots of tea, is obsessed with Buffy, and loves all things pink. K. A. Last hangs out on Facebook or you can find her on twitter and Goodreads. She’s also been known to blog once in a while. And yes, she has cut all her hair off!