Book Signing Essentials

Book Display Tucson Fest 2011Book signings are a strange animal. While they’re a lot of fun, they’re also about as predictable as the weather, and one challenge I’ve frequently encountered is getting passers-by to even notice I’m there in the first place.

My static display skills aren’t bad, however, there is more to a successful display than just a pretty arrangement. The trick is to make your display stand out against the competition. Competition isn’t necessarily other authors signing their books at the same venue. Grouping authors together is usually a benefit, as the multiple book displays tend to stand out more. The competition is the usually rest of the “neighborhood” where the venue is being held. This would be the non-book vendors, brick and mortar shops, restaurants, and whatever activities or events the venue is hosting. A good display is a must if you want to successfully sell your books.

If you’re just starting out, or, if you’re like many of us and have a limited budget, getting everything you need to put together a successful display may seem daunting. However, you’ll find many of your basic display items are inexpensive, and can be found at Wal-Mart, Target, or Michael’s, or even a thrift shop.

First, you’ll need a nice tablecloth. Solid colors work best. If you prefer a tablecloth with a pattern, find a simple one. Think of your tablecloth as the backwash in a painting. Loud, busy fabrics are out. You want the public looking at your books, not at the intricate printed patterns on your tablecloth. I also like to use a small table runner. For most signings I use a simple, ivory lace runner, and I also have a festive Christmas table runner that I use during holiday book signings. If you don’t have a lot of money you can find used tablecloths, or even used draperies or sheets, at thrift stores or yard sales.

Next, you need some small display easels for propping up your books. I’ve found some really nice ones at Michael’s. Try to avoid using the three-legged plate holders. They are unstable and your books will keep being knocked over. If you have the funds, a large bookrack is a really nice display tool. They can be pricey, but they’re a darn good attention grabber and well worth the investment.

You would think that a good book display would be enough for people to understand you’re selling books, but, oftentimes, it not the case. That’s why you also need good signage. If you don’t have a lot of money, you can start out by printing something off your printer and putting it in an attractive photo frame. If you have the tools and the skills, have a have a poster or banner printed and attach it to a piece of foam core board. You should be able to do this for a very reasonable cost. If your funds will allow it, I highly recommend investing in a good quality retractable banner, but keep in mind that retractable banners are not suitable for outdoor use.

I found a sign shop here in Tucson that got me a good deal on a sandwich board. These boards are suitable for outdoor use and they can really take a beating. The signs themselves are easy to remove, so I can swap out different signs for different venues.

And finally, not all venues will provide a table a chair. I found a lightweight, aluminum folding table in the camping department at Wal-Mart for a very reasonable price, along with a couple of cloth folding chairs that are comfortable and easy to carry. That, along with a small dolly or wheeled cart to easily move everything around with, should cover about just about everything that you will need. These items may also be found at thrift stores, yard sales, or craigslist.

Book signings can be fun, and they are one of the best tools out there for promoting and marketing your books. However, as the old adage goes, you will have to spend money to make money, and you should be able do it without going broke in the process.

My tip for the day.




Common Sense and the Internet

Hands at KeyboardAs an author, putting information about myself on the Internet goes with the territory of promoting my books. However, I also use my common sense. What I post on my website is information about my work history, and why I became and an author. I also use common sense practices to help protect my family’s privacy and to help protect my reputation as an author.  These tips could help protect your privacy, as well as your family’s privacy.


  • Don’t post your marital or relationship status on social networking sites such as Facebook, nor should you post information about your family.
  • Be respectful your family’s and friend’s privacy. Always ask their permission before posting information about them on-line.
  • Grandma was right when she taught you that if you can’t say something nice about anyone don’t say anything at all. Attempting to destroy someone’s reputation on the Internet makes only serves to make you look bad. It’s also against the law and could get you some unwanted attention from the FBI. The same could be said for posting compromising photos or videos of family or friends, especially if they are underage, or if you are doing so without their knowledge or consent.
  • Use a contact form for prospective customers to contact you instead of posting your e-mail address. This will help cut down on unwanted spam. And if you work out of your home get a P.O. Box or private mailbox. Never post your home address on-line.
  • And finally, if you’re a parent, I can’t stress enough that you need to closely monitor your children’s activities on-line. Put the computer in the den or living room–not in the child’s bedroom. And yes, you DO have the right, and an obligation to check their on-line history and monitor their Internet activities.


Think of your on-line life as living in a glass house where anyone and everyone can see you, and act accordingly.