As a child I was so shy that my mother was always thinking up well-meaning ways to get me out of my shell. For example, she signed me up for guitar lessons in the fifth grade in the hopes that some day I would be the it-girl at parties who would pull out her guitar and lead the gang in a rousing round of camp-fires songs. I did learn to play the guitar, but I preferred playing quietly in my room.
Over the years, I’ve learned to overcome my shyness and though I still prefer plucking my guitar in the quiet of my house, I love sharing my stories with others at book signings and other author events.
Still, when I sit down at the table in the book store or other venue, the deep inner-shyness still occasionally overcomes me. So now, for all those other shy-ish authors, here are 12 tips for making the most at book events and having fun in the process. I hope they are helpful. And if you have any tips to add, please share in the comments!
TIP #1: Use signage as an introduction. This will make it clear, without your having to say a thing, that you are an author doing a book signing.
TIP #2: Wear something colorful or that makes a special statement. This is good way to make a little splash, again, without having to say a thing. It can also become a great conversation starter – or at least good for some smiles – if you wear something that coordinates with the books. For example, I wear a pink boa at signings for Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse.
TIP #3: Come prepared with something that can serve as an ice breaker. Having something at your display that will arouse the curiosity of passers-by, such as sample sketches from the book or swag, is a great way to engage potential book-buyers who may stop to take a look and you can start a conversation with something easy like, “Aren’t those sketches neat? They are from my new book…” Or, for my newest book Little Ewe, I thought a nice conversation starter would to be knitting some fun swag. I thought it would attract the attention of knitters and others who love crafts and who might also be interested in books. And it did! Invariably, they asked, “What are you knitting?” and just like that, the conversation was off to a lovely start as we shared our love of knitting and books!
TIP #4: Smile and say hello. Simple and effective. Need I say more?
TIP #5: Follow up that “hello” with a simple invitation to look at your books. It can be something as simple as, “I’m the author (or illustrator) of these books. Feel free to take a look.”
TIP #6: Ahead of time think of a short fun fact to share about each book. For example, you might share the inspiration behind the book or something about the illustrator or the book’s dedication.
TIP #7: Make medal-shaped post-its with names of any awards your books have won to tack onto the covers. This is another example of letting signage do some of the talking.
TIP #8: Breathe. Drink plenty of water.
TIP #9: Have printouts on hand for author visits etc. (Just in case.)
TIP #10: Say thank you. After the signing, thank the book store owner for inviting you and offer to sign any remaining books. The next day, send a thank you email as well, planting the seed that you’d love to do a signing when your next book releases.
TIP #11: Share a couple of pictures on your socials celebrating the event. This is a variation on the “letting the signage do some of the talking” principle and a great way to get people excited about your books.
TIP #12: Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!