|Kathie Allen and Rhonda Gowler Green at Book Beat|
Jodi will be here next week to share more about what goes on behind the scenes to plan these events, using Kerrytown as an example, but today, Janet Ruth Heller is here with tips for a successful book signing event. She's been doing signings since 2006 when her first book for children was published, and she participated in the Barnes & Noble event for young readers last month. Here are her tips:
1) Advance Planning
Because most organizers plan signing events months or years in advance, we writers and artists need to start early, doing research about local events and contacting venues to ask whether the staff members want us to participate. For example, many places have pre-Christmas/Chanukah book fairs and signings. Libraries and bookstores often present authors and illustrators reading their work to children on Saturday mornings or afternoons. We need to find out who coordinates these events and ask to be included.
2) Work Closely with the People Who Staff the Venue
If we are selected for a speaking engagement, we should find out all of the details. Here are some questions to ask:
How old are the children who come?
How long will I have to read my book and/or talk about it?
Am I the only visiting writer/artist, or are there others coming?
Will I have a microphone?
Will you announce the reading/signing over your public address system?
Is this event indoors or outdoors or both?
Will you provide a table and chairs for me, or do I need to bring these myself?
3) Practice How to Read Your Book Creatively
Although authors and artists are busy people, we need to find time to practice reading our work aloud in a way that gets the attention of children. Youngsters have trouble focusing and sitting still, so we should offer them a very entertaining presentation to keep their attention. If we get invited to participate on a panel discussion for adults, we need to prepare at least an outline of our major ideas and to practice our talk. We should make eye contact with every member of our audience and speak loudly enough to be heard.
|Art activity from Shmulik Paints the Town by Lisa Rose|
Some writers bring an illustrated page from their books without any color so that youngsters can use crayons to fill in the picture. Because my book How the Moon Regained Her Shape has a scene in which the characters exchange gifts, including a beaded necklace, I often bring beads and nice strings for the children to make their own necklaces or bracelets. At some events, I have led the audience in singing some funny songs.
Group signing events can often draw a larger audience than an event featuring one person. For example, Jodi McKay of the SCBWI-Michigan chapter organized a signing at the Barnes & Noble in Brighton, Michigan, on Saturday, August 5, 2017. Kathie Allen, Deborah Aronson, Jack Cheng, Kim Childress, Jodi McKay, Amy Nielander, Jordan Scavone, Maria Dismondy, J. A. Eaton, and I participated. Of course, all eight of us told our friends and relatives about this event, which increased the number of people who came to the bookstore. Many customers stopped to look at one book and wound up purchasing books from the other writers and artists at the same table. Also, we SCBWI-MI members bought books from one another. I purchased six books for my great-nieces and -nephews from my colleagues.
My father was a businessman, and he taught me to be proud of good merchandise and to hawk it to potential customers. So when I go to signings, I boast, “I/ We have great books for children here!” Or I proclaim, “I’ve got an award-winning book about bullying!” These verbal appeals bring curious people over to a table to look at books.
|Jordan J. Scavone|
Authors and artists can draw people to their book tables by dressing up like characters in their books, bringing a large poster of the book cover, and using stands and other devices that display books attractively.
8) Bring Promotional Materials
I recommend that writers and artists also bring fliers, business cards, or bookmarks about their books to signings. Some people are not ready to purchase a book immediately, but they often order it later, using the information on my fliers. My handouts also have details about how to contact me for school visits and other speaking events. So one speaking event may result in several more engagements.
9) Personalize Your Autograph
Customers like writers and artists who find a way to personalize autographs. For example, Ruth McNally Barshaw draws sketches next to her autographs. I don’t have her artistic talent, but I try to write something about the child or adult who is purchasing my book, such as “I enjoyed meeting you and visiting your class at Amberly School today.” Such autographs make people feel special.
For more tips for successful author events, see these posts from SCBWI-MI members:
Breaking Out of Your Circle by Melanie Hooyenga
Jordan J. Scavone's Tips for a MightE Signing Event
Coming up on the Mitten blog: Hugs and Hurrahs! We want to trumpet your success. Please send your writing/illustrating/publishing good news to Patti Richards by September 25th to be included. Plus, take-aways from our fall conference, and a new Featured Illustrator!