How to organize a Successful Book-Signing (even if you have no experience!)

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Event organizing essentially requires an the execution of the essentials: (1) books/product availability; (2) suitable space to host the occasion and (3) promotion to guarantee attendance of the event. Then it is simply a matter of organization and deadlines. Always be methodical, ask for help if need be and delegate. Good Luck!

Before the Event:

  1. Contact the Publisher of the Author you want a signing with. Get the exact date and times confirmed a.s.a.p. usually subject to Publicist’s approval. Get the Publicist’s contact number.
  2. Inform all staff and line manager’s of event plans.
  3. Promote, promote, promote! Contact head office and the marketing team/ P.O.S people and ensure you have the appropriate banners ordered specify event details and photo of the Author’s latest book on it etc. Contact the publisher’s again to see if they have promotional material and relevant P.O.S to use in store and in the bookshop window.
  4. Promote some more! Email any outside groups that may be interested in attending event. In this instance I was the account sales manager and often ordered books for nearby schools. I created a tailored and personalized email to each nursery and primary school inviting them to the event. I attached the ready made fliers and asked if they could be posted on the school’s bulletin board and or P.T.A meeting. (Top Tip! Usually only 2% of people will respond to promotional emails- so don’t fret if people don’t email back. They’ve got the message that is all that matters.)
  5. Order stock! Include the latest releases and selected back-list. Highlight that it is event stock.
  6. Don’t hesitate to use delegation to get things done!
  7. Plan out the actual day of the signing in advance, how many staff you need on the day. Make sure every facet of the event is covered. The devil is in the detail. The components of the event are: bulk amounts of the author’s books (get the right amount), space for the signing and logistics. Ensure the publisher is informed of travel requirements whether it be parking spaces, distance from train station etc. Make sure there will be plenty of cash for said date. Tills must be filled with maximum cash. Have the event banner and table plus belt barriers available at hand in the stock room.
  8. Actively engage and inform customers of the event and hand out relevant promotional material in the run up to the event. Try to get sales of the author’s books before the signing. Highlight the importance of customers purchasing stock before the event in case they sell out on the day. This will prevent chaos on the day of the signing.
  9. Get active on social media, highlight the event on any given media platform that you already use. #Hastagawaaaay Upload event listings on website and local newspapers and/or radio.
  10. Have a special thank you card ready for the Author and their Publicist. Gifts are optional!

On the Day of the Event

  1. Have spare sharpie pens and water at hand on the day.
  2. Have the author’s books in prominent places, near the front of store and also near the signing table. Make the displays creative and eye-catching.
  3. Have someone on stand-by topping up the display shelves so customers can readily purchase books.
  4. Ensure customers are aware of the layout of the signing and where it will be held etc.
  5. Have post-it notes and sharpies ready so customers can have their books dedicated to someone.
  6. Whilst customers are queuing speak with them share their excitement and check they have purchased the book(s) they want signed. If customer’s want their books dedicated attach post-it notes on the page the author is to sign on. Text must be in CAPITAL LETTER’S to prevent confusion and error. Check that the queue is kept in an orderly fashion.
  7. Adjust the room temperature if need be. Ambiance is everything.
  8. The Author may arrive bang on the start time so they must be greeted and escorted over to their signing table swiftly. Subsequently invite the first customer over when the signing is ready to commence. The Publicist will be standing next to the Author, try to have a bookseller nearby as well.
  9. Check that customer’s are aware when the event is ending, usually there will be a natural dwindling down. Event running times are sometimes a little extended depending on how the queue is.
  10.  If you want extra store stock signed have these open on the page to be signed stacked up together kept in the stock room.They can be signed after event.

After the signing:

  1. Thank the customers for attending!
  2. Huddle around the author and make sure they have a breather and a drink.
  3. Enjoy the moment.
  4. Get the store stock signed.
  5. Give the Thank you cards and gifts. (Personally I had some nibbles ready in the staff room- should the Author wish to stay and rest for a moment.)
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The Waterstones Hereford Julia Donaldson Signing 27th September 2012

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It’s been three years since Hereford Watertsones bookshop had the Queen of Picture Books grace her presence in this most quiet and small city. Three years ago I was the multi-tasking account sales manager, event-planning bookseller running the children’s department. I also had the privilege of hosting my first ever book-signing for the one and only Julia Donaldson.

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It was a chaotic time, it was back to school season and a lot was going on. I had newly taken on the kids department and was learning the ropes. It was all perfect timing!100_0438A  100_0439A

The day after I got confirmation that Donaldson could come to Hereford we had a visit from both a Divisional and Regional Manager and you can imagine how impressive it was to hear that not I been with the company for almost half a decade, but in less than three months into my new Kids Bookseller role I had a Top-Selling Children’s Author come to our store for a signing. It was nothing short of Catherine Vaughan’s Magic & Manifesting + Talent….

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It was a lot of hard work but I learned a lot on the go and it was an experience to encapsulate what I do best: organization and magic! People wander how someone with no event-planning experience can accomplish such a huge task. I just respond saying I learned everything I needed to know about events management from reality television. And it’s true! Thank you Kimora Lee Simmon’s: Life in The Fab Lane TV show.100_0444A  100_0445A  100_0447A      100_0451A

This is me in the Kid’s department.

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The 1st customer who queued up was a Super Fan! She had nail art of The Gruffalo character’s on her hands- Wow!    100_0457A        This is Julia signing my hardback copy of “Superworm.”100_0467A

Here is my specially dedicated copy of “Superworm.” I was so delighted that Julia was happy with the running of the event!

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