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How to schedule a book signing and not screw it up

I'm not terribly shy, but walking into a HUGE Barnes & Noble with thousands of books and poking around the shelves until you find your own is pretty intimidating. Realizing you left your phone at home and can't even take a photo of your book to prove to everyone it's really there is just plain irritating.

Nevertheless, I came, I saw, and that was the easy part. By the way, that's my local Barnes & Noble to the right.

Next came the procrastinating.

I handed my book to someone browsing in the aisle and said, "This is a really good book. You should read it. It's mine." She politely smiled and took the book.

Then I took a couple more of them off the shelf and moved them to a "Noteable New Paperbacks" table where I felt they belonged and where MAYBE they would stand out a little to shoppers in the wild.

Then I wandered around the store a bit, hoping to see this young male salesclerk who looked pretty approachable when I came in. When I didn't see him, I decided to leave. It already looked like I was casing the place.

Once outside, I chided myself for being such a coward. I didn't come this far just to sit on my hands while my book sunk into obscurity, so I turned around and marched myself right back into the store and up to the information booth and asked for the Events Manager.

When she came downstairs, I introduced myself, handed her a business card with my book on it (a sample I ordered for free from Moo.com [very cute card]), and smiled. She asked if they had my book on the shelf. I said, "Yes. Six copies." She said, "Really. We don't usually order that many titles from a new author. It must have gotten some really good reviews." I said, "Yes, actually, it has."

The next part is where it gets a little tricky.

She asked if I'd like to sign the copies. I said I would love to. So upstairs we went to retrieve the four on the shelf, and, um, the two I had moved to another table. "Oh, look!" I said, slightly red-faced. "Here are a couple more right here." (Did I mention the book I handed that lady was back on the shelf? Hmph.)

Anyway, as I signed the books, she suggested I do a book signing, pulled out her calendar, and gave me the whole run down on what the store would do, what I needed to do, and what to expect. 

A few minutes later I strutted out of that store like I owned the world. (That might be a slight exaggeration, but at least I didn't feel the need for self-flagellation when I got home.)

So, based on this ONE experience, here is my list of do's and don'ts when trying to schedule that first book signing:

Don't be chicken. They want to know you.

Don't move your books before you introduce yourself. Get a friend to do it afterwards.

Don't sign your books before (or unless) they ask. That would have been really embarrassing.

Do bring a bookmark or a business card with your cover and other important info on it. It gives you something to hand them and makes you look legit. 

Do smile and be friendly (and I suggest confident but humble).

Do bring the pen you want to sign with or you'll end up having to use one of theirs (in my case, a fat Sharpie).

That's it! Good luck.

Oh, and you should really buy my book! It's good. Very good.

And if you're in the neighborhood, stop by Barnes & Noble at The Woodlands Mall on February 18 between 2 and 4 and say hi. I'll be the one with the pen.

Reader Comments (7)

Ha! I would have wimped (<--I want to use a more vulgar word, but I'll keep it clean) out in that situation. Congrats on the signing! Were I a Texan, I would be there.

January 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHexiJosh

I'm actually quite shy, so congrats! And that's awesome you have a book signing. I wish I could be there...too far, I'm afraid. If you ever come near Cincinnati, Ohio, though, I'm SO there. lol

by the way, reading your book and LOVE. IT. Makes me nervous about my own book. Not sure I could write something as good as this is so far. haha Oh well, it's awesome. Been trying to find it in stores, but I haven't ventured to many yet. Gotta buy it ASAP!


January 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShootingStarsMag

You wouldn't wimp. You couldn't wimp, not after investing that much of your life and your ego in a piece of work!

And Lauren, if I get to Cincinnati, promise you'll come and HELP ME! :)

January 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterJ.H. Trumble

Certainly a must-read for authors who're planning on having a book signing event. What do you mean by moving the books before introduction though?

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOnline Printing Services

I might have moved a few books to a more visible location, only to have to shamefacedly retrieve them when I was invited to sign those books. Oops. :)

January 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterJ.H. Trumble

The writing adventures never end, no matter what stage of the process you're in! I loved this post. Thanks for sharing. I'll look forward to more! :D

January 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan Shamy

There's a definite learning curve, Morgan, but I've found that the writer friends I've made online have been completely generous with their advice and experiences. And I shall do my best to pay it forward!

January 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterJ.H. Trumble

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