What Materials Should You Have for a Book Signing?

Long table display

Long table display

I’ve been to book signings where some authors seemed to bring every single piece of collateral material they own and I’ve been to others where the author had an empty table, no books and a single sign up sheet for their newsletter (I don’t recommend this second option at all).

I’ve compiled a list of what I think makes a really great table. These are just my thoughts and I would love to hear from authors any other ideas that you have that have been successful for you. I’m all ears.

Now, it took me awhile to get all this material because, let’s face it, it’s pricey to get it all at once. But, build your material base slowly and you’ll find you will soon have a nice amount of collateral for your table.

Small table display

Small table display

First, get a nice tablecloth. I have two. One small round one for card tables and one larger, rectangular one. I chose a nice red, with a linen feel, that I got pretty cheaply at Target. I think they cost me $16 each.

Make sure you have copies of your books. In my early days I made the mistake of thinking I’d sell 50 books at my very first little library chat (stop laughing)… I’m still getting through that inventory. I suggest bringing no more than 20 books at a time. If I have an event with more than one novel being presented, I’ll bring that number down to ten or fifteen each.

Business Cards: You can get them cheaply at Vista Print. I made these myself and they cost me hardly anything. I totally manipulated their template and put on it exactly what I wanted. biz card

Poster: I got a nice poster for my novel THE HUNT FOR XANADU for under $50 at Staples. It looks great and I plan to get additional posters for my FLYING TO THE LIGHT series when I can. I’d recommend getting an easel or even an old music stand to showcase it.

Dual Postcard for two fantasy novels

Dual Postcard for two fantasy novels

Postcards. This is the newest thing I’ve purchased and I LOVE THEM. Why? This way if I don’t bring the books, I have a postcard to give out with a blurb written up about the novels. One half of the postcard is empty so I can write a note to them and it offers a nice recap of the novel so if someone wants to later download it to Kindle, they can. I got these at Staples too. I purchased them in bulk and got them for about $0.80 or so each. I love the idea of putting two books on at once for a series and plan to do them for my next YA series coming out.

Candy. Seriously, who doesn’t like candy? For one event where I was showcasing my buddhist thriller I tried to keep “to the theme” and purchased individually wrapped asian cookies. I couldn’t give them away, but the chocolates I brought as a back-up were a hit. That’s now my candy of choice. I splurge and get Dove Chocolates and put them in a little glass bowl. If no one comes to your event, at least you have something yummy to snack on.

Other various things for your table. Email sign-up sheet and some photocopies of your book’s reviews. If people coming to your table seem to be waffling about the book, you can simply hand them a sheet of paper that has the reviews downloaded right from amazon and they can take it with them to read.

I thought of having my trailer run on a loop on an IPAD, but I haven’t done that yet. I have seen other authors do it, but it requires people to stand there and watch a video versus talk to you. I still like the idea and it seems to be a nice thing to run in the background for your table.

If anyone has anything else that works, please tell me. I would love to hear.

15 thoughts on “What Materials Should You Have for a Book Signing?

  1. Great blog! I’ve done a few signings, and I’m still learning. Your candy idea is brilliant, and the postcards? Oh yes, those would certainly have come in handy. I’ve seen people do the iPad bit, but frankly I;d rather they talk to me. Great pics too! Thanks for the entry.

    • The candy idea came after watching lots of people circling over and over by this one author. Great way to get people over to your table, even if it is just because they want the treat. πŸ™‚

  2. This is great advice, Elyse. I love your business cards. The postcard idea is awesome. What about bookmarks?
    Thank you for this blog post!

    • Bookmarks would be great – but I’ve had such a hard time getting them set up. Besides also being pricey. I wish Vista Print did bookmarks and then it would be so easy. But yes, that would be a great option, too. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      • Vista Print should integrate bookmarks, indeed. I would love that.
        Postcards can also be used as bookmarks – this is certainly less pricey.

      • What I love most about the postcard is someone once said “but I want a kindle book – how can you sign a kindle?” I replied, “I’ll sign the postcard for you!” and gave them a nice, signed postcard with note. πŸ™‚

  3. I think it is important to change it up based on your audience or event. We did the Sea Turtle festival over the weekend that was geared to children and the beach so we took items for them to “win”. Some of the parents actually bought books!

  4. Right on the nail for several ideas. When I did my first book signing, I took in two boxes – 50 copies and toted out almost all of them. Like you, I’ve scaled back to 10 books of my current and 5 of the older ones. Always have the older books! As to offerings, my first book – 2012: Timeline Apocalypse – was about the Mayan calendar so I made “tascalate” which is a chocolate drink which I suggested being added to the coffee as a flavoring. Plus I had Mexican milk candy to offer. My friend wrote a “chicken wing” novel and offered samples of one of the recipes from the book. Another friend of mine wrote a novel about an old Southern lady who constantly was having “tea.” She gave bookmarks w/ a teabag attached. If you can tie back to your book in some manner, the public will remember that. Great suggestions, Elyse. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Pingback: What Materials Should You Have for a Book Signing? | THECROAK500

  6. Great advice, especially for male writers like me whose bachelor approach was probably evident in the first event. Another one..even if you have virtual bookselling set up, at a book signing there is still a need for a one-time event sales tax permit if books are to be sold onsite…depending on your state’s rules.

  7. I’ve used business cards and posters. Never thought of a tablecloth, but it’s a great suggestion.

    And I agree with the number of books. It’s a tricky balance, but it doesn’t look very good when you’re taking boxes of books away at the end of the day.

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