Book Signing ABCs

My debut novel, The Promise of Change, starring my hero and heroine, Alex and Sarah, and set primarily in Oxford, England, is now available in paperback. Whew! That was a mouthful.  And … tomorrow is my first-ever book signing! Now, I don’t profess to be an expert, after all this is my first book signing, but I thought I’d blog today about the plans that went into this monumental event. Well, it’s monumental to me, anyway.

The Venue

My first thought when I considered a book signing, was my local Barnes & Noble, since the book is carried by their online retailer. But a local business owner and friend called “dibs” on my first book signing. The Perfect Gift is a shop in my community, and the owner, Sara (not to be confused with my heroine, Sarah), who is very involved in the community, often hosts events at her store – a real plus, since she knows how to put on an event right.

The Date

Once the venue was decided, the date and time came next. This is no easy task. For a small university-town, we have a plethora of events to compete with, including college football. We selected a Friday evening the weekend of a big home football game. That ensured the good citizens of my town would be here and not at an away-game.  Even so, there were a couple of competing events — one being the grand opening of my neighbor’s new business – which I hate to miss.

The Promotion

My stepson, who is a very talented graphic designer, designed my flyer. This flyer was posted on my website and Facebook fan page, the store owner’s website and Facebook fan page, and on my personal Facebook page. I also created events on my fan page and my personal page, on Goodreads, and through an online invitation service.

We also printed 5X7 flyers, which Sara placed in her store, and inserted in every customer’s bag. The event will also be listed in my local newspaper under the book signings announcement.

A photographer from one of the local magazines will be there snapping candids for the following month’s issue. While this is post-event, I’m hoping it keeps my name fresh in people’s minds.

The Preparation

I’m giving a goody bag to the first 100 (okay, I’m very optimistic) people who purchase my book. The goody bag will hold:

  • Dove Chocolates
  • English Breakfast Tea (my heroine’s favorite)
  • A recipe card for Irish Soda Bread (another of my heroine’s favorites)
  • Lip balm with my logo (Totally Promotion)
  • A ballpoint pen with my logo (National Pen Company)
  • A book mark for my latest release, Rescuing Lacey

I purchased opaque white shopping bags with handles, which were very inexpensive, from Store Supply, and I hosted a goody-bag stuffing party at my home. I invited friends and family, set out munchies and wine, and created an assembly line to stuff the bags. It was finished in short order. And it was fun!

My enlarged book covers have been printed on foam board, and will stand on easels at the event.

Next, I assembled a gift basket with items from Oxford, England, where my heroine meets her hero, including chocolates from this fabulous chocolatier in Oxford, tins of tea, two tea cups, a pen emblazoned with the Oxford University logo, toiletries from Christ Church College, a tea towel with the Oxford University College crests, an Oxford University tote-bag, and a bottle of wine from Sara.

Anyone who signs up for my newsletter is entered in the drawing for the gift bag. I’ll also be giving away two free downloads of Rescuing Lacey during the evening to these same individuals. For the giveaways, I printed two 5×7 cards with the book cover, the blurb, and the download code, along with the Soul Mate website and instructions to download the book.

I stocked up on Sharpies (in case I sign so many books, I run out of ink) and although this sounds, um, well, obsessive, I’ve been practicing my autograph. I use a pen name, so I don’t want to accidentally sign my real name to the book (unless someone wants me to).

The Event

In addition to the book signing, there will be live music, wine and hors de oeuvres, to create a real party atmosphere, and to encourage those in the area to stop in and see what all the hub-bub is about.

I’ve recruited some friends to help the night of the event:

  • One to handle the actual book sales (more on this below)
  • One to handle newsletter sign-up and the prize drawings
  • One to assist at the signing table

The Devil is in the Details

When it comes to the book sales, I had to register with my state’s Department of Revenue to collect and pay sales tax, since I’m selling my books. So, if you’re considering a book signing and will be selling your books, as opposed to the retailer hosting the event, you should check with your state regarding sales tax requirements.

I also signed up for Square, an electronic payment service, to take credit and debit cards from those who don’t want to pay cash. Square is very easy to use and works with your smartphone or tablet. They take 2.75% of each sale and the money is deposited directly into your bank account. There is no merchant application process and no upfront fees. Since they do take a percentage, I am hoping most of my buyers pay cash, but I don’t want to miss out on a sale just because I don’t take credit cards.

Additionally, I downloaded Square Register, a free app that works like a cash register to ring up sales. You can enter your item, along with a photo and price, and the percentage of sales tax and it will figure it out automatically. Since math is not my strong suit, this is a God-send.

So that’s it. My plans are in place, and all I have to do now is show up, smile, and sell books. Here’s to a terrible case of writer’s cramp!

I’ll give a post-game analysis next Thursday on my blog.

Have you held a book signing? Where did you have it? What steps did you take to make your event special? And what will you do differently next time?


About Rebecca Heflin

I've dreamed of writing romantic fiction since I was fifteen and my older sister snuck a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss' Shanna to me and told me to read it. Now I write women's fiction and contemporary romance under the name Rebecca Heflin. In case you're wondering, Rebecca Heflin is an abbreviated version of my great-great grandmother's name: Sarah Anne Rebecca Heflin Apple Smith. Whew! And you wondered why I shortened it. When not passionately pursuing my dream, I am busy with my day-job at a large state university or running the non-profit cancer organization my husband and I founded. I'm a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, Savvy Authors, and Florida Writers Association. My mountain-climbing husband and I live at sea level in sunny Florida.
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12 Responses to Book Signing ABCs

  1. Cheryl Yeko says:

    Cool. You sound very prepared. Keep us updated on how it goes.

    And, good luck!


  2. B.J. Scott says:

    great post and good luck tomorrow. You will do fantastic!

  3. Thanks. Great advice. I have a meet the author event at my local B&N in 2 wks. These are all good things to know. Good luck tomorrow. I know it will be great. Have fun.

  4. scmitchell says:

    Best of luck with your signing tomorrow. I did my first signing at a Wisconsin Romance Writers of America conference, in a room with two dozen other romance authors. I know I was more awestruck than the people who stopped by my booth, but I did sign a few copies.

  5. I’d say you’re more than prepared! I’ll bet some seasoned authors at book signing events are not half as ready. Good luck, these are all fantastic ideas, and keep us posted on how you do!

  6. jannashay says:

    You are well prepared for your book signing. It should be a smashing success. Have a wonderful time. I look forward to hearing how it went on your blog.

  7. Pingback: My First-Ever Book Signing: A Post-Game Analysis | Rebecca Heflin

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