As an author, a book signing is one of the rare times you’ll come face-to-face with actual human beings who want to read your book. Here’s our ultimate book signing checklist so you can be prepared for your big moment.

For authors, a book signing is THE “rockstar” event – one of the rare times that you’ll come face-to-face with a large group of actual human beings who want to shower you with praise and appreciation.

So let’s make sure you do it right!

How to prepare for your book signing: BookBaby’s book signing checklist:

1. Book your tour of bookstores!

Before you can sign any books, you need a venue in which to break out the pens! Typically these would be bookstores (and independent bookstores are particularly receptive to hosting author events), but you can also get creative. If you wrote a book about Doggy Heaven then maybe you could read at a pet store or an event hosted by the Humane Society.

Also, ask yourself these questions:

  • How many nights can I be away from home, work, family?
  • How far from home can I afford to travel?
  • How can I position these signings to gather extra media attention? Is there a hook? Or some existing event that I can pair with for extra “synergy!” (Wow, I hate that word.)

Depending on your schedule, try to contact at least twice as many locations as you have travel dates. Some of them will already have events booked for your target dates; some of them will say no; some of them will say yes!

Get out the old press kit

Dust off the old press kit; it’s probably past due for an update anyway. If you’ve never prepared a press kit before, check out our article on How to Create a Digital Press Kit.

If you’re going to prepare a physical press kit, it should contain the same basic information as listed in the link above.

You’ll need these press kits BEFORE you start to contact places to host your signing.

Let the contact blitz begin!

Find out who handles the booking or event-planning at your target bookstores (or other locations). Whether you talk to them via telephone or email, put on your best PR hat and get ready to sell them on why you’re a good fit for their store.

Do they want physical or digital press kits?

How long do they need in order to make a decision about your appearance? Will they contact you or should you check back in?

You’re booked! Now what?

Lucky you; the real work begins now! You’ve got to work out the promotion details and logistics with the store. Who is expected to handle what? What should you bring? What do they provide (tables, chairs, signage, etc.)? How many books to stock?

You’ll want to do all your usual marketing for these events:

  1. Add the event dates to your website and social media profiles.
  2. Create Facebook events.
  3. Send an email announcement to your newsletter list and encourage them to share with friends in the areas you’ll be traveling through.
  4. Depending on who is responsible for local promotion (You? Or the store?) you may want to contact the local press, offering to do a phone interview in advance of the signing.
  5. Determine what (if any) printed materials are required to promote the event within the store and in the surrounding area—get those mailed to the store.
  6. Follow up with the local media (weeklies, newspapers, community radio, literary blogs, events calendars, etc.) a couple weeks in advance of the signing to see if you can arrange any additional coverage. Then follow up again the day before the event when you’re actually in the area. Maybe an opportunity has opened up for last-minute coverage!

The big day has arrived! Here’s what to expect:

book signing checklist

Laura Ingalls Wilder at a book signing, 1952

Be punctual and prepared.
Have you ever laid your clothes out the night before just to be sure you’re ready for something the next morning? Do that here too. Get all your supplies ready beforehand (books, pens, business cards, etc.). Arrive at the venue early with plenty of time to set up, get the lay of the land, meet the folks who will be helping you through the event, etc. Oh, and did we mention pens? Bring a lot. And then bring more.

Get help
Santa has his elves. Rock bands have their roadies. Do you have a friend, spouse, publicist, agent, or other kind-soul that can accompany you on your journey? It always helps to have someone out there amongst the crowd to answer questions, direct traffic, or handle any other last-minute consideration.

Dress to impress
I don’t think that means you have to wear a suit or tweed jacket, but consider what outfit enhances your image. What will make you seem more cool, convincing, and compelling to your readers?

Post-game playbook

After the event is over, be sure to send out thank-you notes to all those involved in planning and hosting the events. Analyze what went well, and where you can improve for the next go-round. If you filmed any of these events, share that video on your blog and write a recap about your experience (the highs, the lows, the in-betweens) for your newsletter!

I Hope this list helps you plan for a successful string of book signings. If you have tips of your own to add to this list, we’d love to get your input. Feel free to comment in the section below.

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Chris Robley

About Chris Robley

Chris Robley has written 570 posts in this blog.

is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard’s Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of “Short Works Poetry.”

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