I had the opportunity to witness a book signing by one of the top 25 authors in America. I must say, I was very excited before the event. I was not nearly as excited after the event. Watching the whole thing unfold was truly a leaning experience for me. Based on the things I learned during the event, I offer these guidelines.
I wish I could say I developed this list based on the wonderful example set by the author I watched. Unfortunately, most of these 10 tips were based on the negative example I witnessed. Being The Extreme Diva, though, I took the negative and created a positive. Some of the tips are applicable for any size event while others are to be used for large events. Of course, being Divas, I know all of your events are well attended!
Oh, I am not going to tell you who the author was. Unfortunately, I have seen other authors do the very same things that were done during this event. Ah, well, not everyone is an Extreme Diva!
10 Tips to a Dazzling Event
- Make Your Needs Know: Before the event, be sure you let the store know about any specific needs you have. If you want water always available to you as you sign, tell them. If you want to arrange for refreshments, let them know. In fact, take time now to create a list that can be sent to each book store to help them prepare for your event. You or your people should not have to re-invent the wheel for every event. Set a standard at the beginning, tweak it a bit as you go along and stick with it.
- Put Your Best Foot Forward: As soon as the event is booked, send a brief note to the store thanking them for hosting the event and letting them know how much you look forward to working with them. The staff will go the extra mile for you if you make them part of the team right from the beginning.
- Dress for the Occasion: Book signings may be old hat for you eventually but they are a big event for the people who turn out just to see you. Dress for the occasion. I am so tired of seeing authors who look like they are on their way to the mall and lunch out with the “girls.” You are the star of the show and you should dress accordingly. Marita Littauer encourages students in her CLASSeminar to dress “one step above the audience” when they go out to speak. You should do the same.
- Treat Every Event Like It is Your First: You want to do this on 2 levels: First, remember the excitement you felt as you prepared for your very first event. Put that same amount of excitement into EVERY event you do; second, even if you already did a radio interview, another book signing and still have a presentation scheduled for that evening, you must tell yourself “this is my first event and I am full of energy!” People have gone to a lot of effort for you. You should do the same for them.
- Make Your Acknowledgements: When you arrive at the store, before you begin, you should acknowledge the crowd. Thank them for coming. Tell them how glad you are to be there and how much you look forward to meeting with each of them. This quick welcome will hold them over until they have a chance to meet you face to face.
- Thank the “Little People”: Before you begin, you also want to take the time to thank the bookstore staff in public. Encourage the crowd to show the staff their appreciation for all the hard work that went into preparing for the event.
- Treat Each Customer as the Only Customer: As each customer comes up to meet with you, treat them as if no one else was waiting. Avoid checking the size of the line behind them. Avoid looking at your watch. If someone is taking too much time, have a small signal for the support staff and let that person encourage the customer to move on. Let them be the bad guy but in a very polite manner.
- Treat the “Little People” Well: You might sell lots of books during the event which is good for you and the store. You might believe all the money you bring in during the event is enough. After all, selling books is their job! Well, once you leave, you become one of the hundreds and hundreds of authors whose books are sold by that store. If you make a bad impression on the staff, it just may influence how well they hand sell your books in the future. Treat the staff well. They are part of your team, helping to make your books a success. They have gone to a lot of trouble preparing for your event and they are being slightly inconvenienced by your event. Treat them well because it is the right thing to do and as an added bonus, it helps sell books in the long run.
- A Final Thanks: When the last customer leaves and the dust settles, be sure to take the time to thank the staff one more time. Let them know that you know how much trouble events can be and you appreciate their help making your books a success. Tell them that best sellers are a team effort and you are glad to have them on your team.
- Remember Your Manners: Send a note of thanks to the Event Planner for the store, thanking them one last time for your event. If possible, send a gift to the store to thank the staff, especially if the event was really successful. They will be more than happy to have you back when your next book comes out.
It really doesn’t take much to dazzle both your customers and the staff. Treat everyone with respect and patience and you will be the one who benefits time and time again.