Sunday, May 1, 2011

Project to Published: Keys to a Successful Signing

Keys to a Successful Signing

My very first book signing was at one of the largest book festivals in California, the OCCBF (Orange County Children’s Book Festival). Although I had already received notice, I was still competing against a lineup of other authors, some well known and others who were newcomers, just like myself. Each of us had our own unique approach to how we conducted our individual signing.

Honestly? I was terrified of my first signing. I wondered if anyone would show up to see me and if they did, would they buy my first book. I was only given so many hours before another author would get to have my booth. I was also given a large box of my books from my publisher, in addition to what I had brought with me, for 'just in case'. I was very glad they did that before my day was half over.

I talked with the other authors and they told me about some of their past experiences, ideas that worked and ones that didn't. On the internet you will find a wide assortment of blogs and articles that other authors have put together about their signings and how to make them successful. Here is what I personally discovered and learned during the OCCBF.

1. Early bird catches the worm
2. Don't be a Bambi
3. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!
4. Speak up and make eye contact
5. Don't be afraid to try something new

It is an old saying, but the quote "the early bird catches the worm" fits any signing perfectly. I arrived early to my signing and the first thing I did was to talk to everyone there. I spoke to volunteers, employees, other authors and even the group in charge of our lunch (this last one wasn't because they had free chocolate available... honest!). I learned a great deal from speaking to each person and I knew everyone by their first name before the signing began (even if I was terrible at remembering those names so not all of them stuck). This is important because your signing isn't just about the people who buy your book and ask for your autograph - it's about the ones who help to make the signing happen.

Don't be a Bambi means that you shouldn't allow yourself to be caught like a deer in headlights. If you freeze up, take a deep breath and jump into doing something no matter what it is. Organize your swag and books in front of you, turn to someone new, smile and say hello, go wash your hands, straighten your hair and look yourself firmly in the eyes, telling yourself that you can do this - that you will make it happen. My fiancĂ©, who  went with me to the signing, impressed me the most because he is naturally introverted, but he dived right in to speaking to everyone when he noticed I froze my first few minutes. Seeing him do that made me smile and I was ready for anything.

Collaborating is important. Collaborate with friends, family, volunteers (there for you and the event), and most importantly, other authors. We're all in this together and by sticking by one another, not only can we help each other but together we can do what one person alone could never hope to accomplish. Success isn't just about one person doing well - it's about all of us sharing what we accomplished together. It's good marketing, it benefits everyone, and we help each other as a team.

This one I learned from my psychologist fiancĂ© - speak up and make eye contact. Michael once told me he felt that authors should take business etiquette and marketing courses. I never understood what he meant until my first signing. He is right (but shhh! don't tell him I said so) because while we may have a group of people who are coming to see us as authors personally, it is the groups of people who did not expect to see us that we also want to reach. We have to look a person in the eye and say "Hello! Would you like to see what I have to offer?" (Not in those exact words, remember you aren’t a used car salesman.) Our books can sell on their own, but in order to encourage people to give them a chance, we have to open the door before they will step inside.

This last one I can't stress enough - don't be afraid to try something new! The world's greatest concepts and inventions were not created because of commonplace, average ideas. They came to be because someone had an 'off-the-wall' idea that succeeded because they made it succeed. Listen to any tape or read a book about being successful in business and what is the first thing they tell a person? It is the person who takes an outlandish idea and makes it successful. We, as authors, have everything we need inside of us to be successful - we just have to let our ideas flourish.

Yes, I do have more tips if you would like them. If you are a starting author (like I am, I am just sharing my journey and knowledge as I learn, hopefully for many years to come.) never hesitate to e-mail me and let me know what posts might be helpful for you! Or for readers who have questions! Anyone wanting to submit an idea or question feel free to e-mail me at: anytime.

Yes I will be going again this year and here is a picture from last year:
So many people were there last year! I can hardly wait to go this year on Oct 2nd! It will be a blast!

Emma Michaels


  1. Great info, and tips... it does sound like a blast, good luck.

  2. Great tips! I was terrified at my first signing (where I had to speak, too, eek!) and half the people there were friends who showed up to support me. And since I tend to babble when I get nervous, I had to stop and take a deep breath a LOT. Events where I get to sit with other authors are definitely easier. And more fun :)

  3. Wow!!! This looked like an awesome event for the families & all the kids that attended. Thank you for the follow. Many Blessings, Barbara~~~Espanol para Ninos (Spanish for Kids)