What makes a good booksigning?

I’m doing a few booksignings over the next few weekends and I wanted to ask you what makes a good booksigning, from both sides of the table.
I signed recently at the New Jersey RWA Literacy Bookfair which was a lot of fun. I sat next to Colleen Gleason, one of the authors for Bespelling Jane Austen. We had chocolate. We had bookmarks, magnets, coverflats and big grins on our faces. We had great tottering piles of books and signs with our names on them that tended to fall over.

I’m happy to report that the piles of books did become slightly smaller as time went on and I had time to wander around, admire others’ covers, and even buy a couple of books myself.

So what makes a good signing? First, you have to sell books. Second, you need to know where the bathroom is because, particularly in bookstores, people always ask. You must have things around other than the books, because even if people throw out the bookmarks as soon as they get home, the subliminal message of buy my books for all your friends, pay off my daughter’s college loans, and vote Democrat has imprinted on their brains. In another post I’ll tell you how to design the subliminal message.

I like to do group signings because if a customer approaches you can ask them what they like to read and engage them in conversation, which is the best possible thing you can do. If they don’t read books like yours, you can refer them to the other writers at the table, and they may buy yours anyway. I find I do better at engaging a customer by standing up, smiling, and offering chocolate. I’ve even walked around the bookstore and chatted to people who are browsing and invited them to the table. For me the worst possible scenario is the single lonely writer sitting behind a pile of books and occasionally directing someone to the bathroom.

If I go to a signing I like to feel that I have shared a few seconds or moments exclusively with the writer(s) and that I’m not part of some sort of signing conveyor belt.

I’m signing this Saturday at Borders, Bowie MD, from 2:00–4:00 pm at a Halloween signing. I shall wear special earrings. My partners in crime are Rebecca York, Pamela Palmer, and Catherine Asaro. Members of my local RWA® chapter will appear as costumed minions to herd people over to the table and the store staff will also dress up.

Also the multitalented Catherine Asaro will perform songs from the companion CD to her latest release Diamond Star.

I hope if you’re in the area you’ll drop by. It should be a lot of fun.

What have been your good booksigning experiences? Your worst?

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