Behind the Scenes of Book Signings
A lot of people ask me questions about my book signings and other speaking events. Because, the truth is, I do that kind of thing quite often. I speak and sign books at libraries, conventions, schools, groups, and churches. It’s so much fun for me because I love meeting new people and sharing my story and hearing about their hopes and dreams. But there’s also a lot of work and preparation involved, so I thought I’d give you the low-down (with pictures included) of what goes on behind the scenes of a book signing. I did one today at my local county library (whoo-hoo for the home library!), and it was so much fun to go back the building I grew up visiting and sign books there. So most of these photos were taken while getting ready this morning. 😉
Except for this one:
Which was taken at the Virginia Beach Library, along with a few others in this entry, because that’s one of the few book signings where I have actually REMEMBERED to bring my camera.
But let’s start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start!)
Clothes. Clothes are the most important part of a book signing. Haha, I’m joking (obviously), but if we’re talking chronological-order, then clothes are the first thing I think about. I made some errors in the beginning of how to dress for these sort of things, and I don’t intend to make them again. It’s harder than you might think to dress for your own book signing. I don’t want to look too old, too dressy, to casual, or too indifferent.
Like this is not a good outfit:
I would totally wear that dress to a holiday party, and I’m crazy about the shoes (which I got for $7, by the way — yeah, I’m that cool), but there’s no way I’m wearing this to a book signing. It would make everyone else feel under-dressed and uncomfortable, and I’m pretty sure my feet would be killing me after an hour or so of standing and answering questions.
I would also not wear this:
Jeans = Bad Idea. I might wear this to the mall or the farmer’s market, but not a book signing. I want my audience to have respect for me, and in order for that to happen I realize I must present myself as a mature, confident, professional young woman. BUT, I’m also not about to wear a pantsuit.
After much deliberation (and consulting my sister), this is what I wore today:
I usually wear skirts, always wear color, and those heels are pretty comfortable. So it’s a win-win situation, in my mind.
After all the hard work of choosing an outfit is over, I figure out what I’m going to talk about. (I know — my priorities are so messed up) My speaking engagements always vary in regards to time allotment, so I have to figure out if I’m going to be talking for fifteen minutes or fifty. I’ve done so many by now, that I can usually just speak off the top of my head and do pretty well, but sometimes (especially if it’s a longer talk), I’ll make notecards with reminders on them.
See how pretty my handwriting is on that notecard? Okay, so it’s still pretty messy handwriting, but I fancy myself it’s nice. Anyway, my notecards outlining my speeches usually read something like this:
1. Open with joke
2. Make story of my life last at least ten minutes
3. Avoid saying “um”
4. Make a Princess Bride reference
5. Shake it off like it was nothing if no one laughs
6. Smile, slow down, and ask for questions
I usually follow that list pretty well. Sometimes I forget about the Princess Bride and substitute an Elf quote or something instead. (“I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite.” 😀 )
Next, I get my books and bookmarks together.
Look at all those lovely copies of Interrupted! 🙂 Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of my table all set up at the library today, but I usually just have books, bookmarks, and some kind of cool sign. None, however, as sweet as this sign Zondervan made at the PLA Conference in March.
The only thing that would be sweeter? A giant photo of my head. Haha, I joke, I joke.
Well, that’s about it. Once I get to the library, or wherever it is I’m speaking, I set up my books and go around shaking hands and greeting the people there. Then I speak for a while, and answer any questions from the audience. After I’m finished, I sit at my table for a while and talk with the individuals who come to buy books. And then, after an hour or so, it’s all finished and I just pack up whatever books I have left and drive home, ready to do it again soon. 🙂