Books + Magazines

10 Book Signing Ideas

April 20, 2011

I’d admit, this is a rather out of place topic for a decorating blog but considering it does tie-in to decorating as it’s about my own signing last week for Decorate at Liberty, I thought I’d share some ideas. I’m no book signing expert but I know lots of you who will soon author books and some have already sent me emails asking how signings work so I thought I’d lend some friendly advice based on my signing. Whether you are a new author or an old pro, these tips may spark some ideas for you — I didn’t read up on how to sign books 101 or anything… but I went with my gut instinct as I was clueless about how signings worked, and well, everything went well thanks to Liberty, my dear friends Sania and Leslie and so many others who are mentioned and linked below.

10 Book Signing Ideas

1. Place a stack of your business cards on the signing table so your new friends can take one home with them and so they can stay in touch. Mine were designed by my dear friend Tara Hogan from INK + WIT (see image below). She did a beautiful job and they are letterpressed with gorgeous deep impressions so everyone loved the feel of them (as do I!). They are also double-sided which makes them quite pretty I think.

2. Define your “signing table” with a sign, pretty things hanging above it, flowers, things that make your signing table feel cozy. It also will photograph nicely if you put some thought into it. Also make sure the area has good lighting!

3. If you have access to one, sit on a bench instead of a chair. That way, your friends can sit with you for photos and it’s nice because you are shown seated side-by-side vs. one hunching down over the other for a photograph which can be awkward. Plus it’s easier to have photos together and you don’t have to keep standing up for pictures either as I imagine after the 100th photo you could be quite exhausted!

10 Book Signing Ideas

4. Make sure you keep bottled water by your side at all times. You wouldn’t believe how much water you’ll need to keep your voice — you talk to so many people!

5. Have at least a few friends OR a few friends and one professional photographer, on hand to shoot the event. Tell them in advance what you want, unless of course they know what you want as most friends instinctively can figure it out. It’s a big deal to sign a copy of your book for fans. You want to have photos to remember the occasion by for years to come. My friend, Tiffany Kirchner-Dixon, is a professional photographer who flew out from Seattle to shoot the event. My husband was also there shooting, along with Leslie’s husband Dan, Julie Cove, and Sania’s husband Mark. Between them all we got some nice photographs. You won’t have a moment free to take photos yourself, trust me, so don’t even think you can swing it. :)

6. Talk with everyone as they approach your table, don’t quickly sign and shuffle them off. It may be the way for rock stars, but those of us who are writing books and have a connection to our readers will want to reach out and know them better. Speak warmly and show your appreciation. Spend a few minutes with each person — even if your queue is long, it’s important that everyone feels welcome. A word of caution though: don’t spend too much time or you won’t get to sign all of the books! And don’t give more time to some over others, it can make others feel left out.

10 Book Signing Ideas

7. Bring name tags and ask everyone to put their name on them and their twitter handle/blog/website, etc. It’s a great way for them to network at your event but also great for you — you don’t have to worry about getting the spelling wrong as you are signing books! The name tags we used were designed by Wolfie and the Sneak (see above images). Renee Garner did a wonderful job, everyone loved them!

8. Try to write a special message in each book that you sign. “To Leslie xo, Holly Becker” is nice, but I wanted to go the distance so I wrote a sentence or two in each copy that I signed – a different message in each book. I felt like nowadays, with so many people reading online that having an actual book that is signed and dedicated to you makes books feel different, special, and the memories that you attach to that book through the kind words of the author will surely be remembered each time the book is opened. That means something.

9. Use a black smudge-proof unscented sharpie that drys instantly! It’s the best. Don’t use a ballpoint pen, a pen that smells up the entire room (and makes you high in the process!) or worse, smears all over the place and gets on your clothes and marks up the facing page in their book.

and finally

10. Why not bring a book for THEM to sign? That is what is shown in the top photo of this post laying on my work table. I never in my life heard of this idea but I wanted to do it ever since I first imagined signing books. Leslie bought a fantastic softcover notebook for me that I ended up using for this purpose. That way, as I signed a copy of my book for my guest, they would in return sign (and often write sweet thoughts to me) in my “guest” book on my signing table. I remember that same evening, in my hotel room, sitting in bed on cloud nine as I flipped through each page reading each and every note. I vow to bring my book to each place that I roam on my book tour (and since it’s lightweight and softcover, I can) with the goal to fill each page with notes from my friends from all over. I’ll cherish it forever, that’s for sure.

Oh! And something I didn’t do — freshen up now and then — a dab of lipstick or gloss can make a world of difference in photographs so don’t forget to take mini breaks. :) I know, it seems shallow to say that but it is true! :)

Have you ever done a signing before? Do you have tips to share? If you have attended signings in the past (this was the first I’ve attended and it was my own, ha ha!) do you have any thoughts on how an author can make those at their event feel comfortable and appreciated? I think other authors reading this may find your tips helpful so please comment if you’d like to share your thoughts.

By the way, Liberty saved some signed copies from the event if you’d like one. They are offering free shipping within the UK and are very limited so click here if you’d like one. :)

(image: holly becker for decor8)

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53 Comments

  • Reply Angel@ | 77inspire | April 20, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    All wonderful tips for book signing :) will come in so handy when I write a book….

    I think little details like this make events all the more special.

  • Reply Jasmine Marie April 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    What great ideas! I wish I could attend one of your book-signings, but thanks for sharing this with us and allowing us to “virtually” attend one. :)

  • Reply ArticulateArt April 20, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    These are great tips if I can be such a loved blogger and author like you someday hopefully. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply BODIE and FOU April 20, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Fabulous tips as usual, I shall add to my list of things to achieve before I die. I’m off on holidays. Have a great week!

  • Reply betz April 20, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Wonderful tips! Name tags are great to help you remember people’s names and how to spell them. If name tags are not available having a note pad at your side is a great place to jot down the spelling of their name. Then you can chat with them and concentrate on writing your sentiment then refer to it when you’re ready.

  • Reply Kim B. April 20, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Holly — I’m so happy for you – ever since you announced you’d be signing at Liberty I thought — wow wow wow wow. You have created such a world around you while still staying so humble and connected to everything you’re feeling; it’s so inspirational. I love these little tips and the confidence it speaks of in your blog audience that some of us/them will someday have books too, but mostly I love that you wanted to hear from your fans so much that you brought a book for THEM to sign so you’d have something concrete to take away with you.

    A million congratulations!!!

  • Reply Karon Grieve April 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Great tips. I did signings at Christmas time with So Easy Herbal, it was great that it was the festive season as so many people wanted me to write something Christmassy which made things easier. I do agree that it is nice to make each message personal and different. A mere signature means nothing, a few words can make someone’s day.
    Love your blog
    Karon x

  • Reply www.StarHughes.com April 20, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks for such great ideas! I love your pictures too – great photography! Will you be signing books in Southern California anytime soon? Thanks for such an inspirational blog!

  • Reply Jeanne April 20, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Wonderful ideas! Am saving this post for when my book is published! Thanks!

  • Reply juliette April 20, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I just think the bench idea is fab b/c so often people wait in the longest of lines to get a book signed and yeah- you can be totally wiped out by the time they get to the table! =P

  • Reply Nadine April 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Dear Holly,
    it is wonderful how many thoughts you put into your book signing. I love the name tags and your own sign book.

    Thank you so so much for featuring my home. I really felt a bit giddy after reading the post :).

    Have a wonderful evening and Frohe Ostern :)!

    Nadine

  • Reply Julie the Alkaline Sister April 20, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Holly, your signing couldn’t have been more beautiful or better thought out. I only dream of having such and event one day! It was a delight to share it with you and your above tips will be saved in a special place should I be so fortunate as to be in your shoes one day!

  • Reply thehiddenlist.com April 20, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    What great tips! I think you’ve thought of everything! The idea to have a bench instead of a chair is brilliant! Thanks!

  • Reply Winter April 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I am always struck by how kind and thoughtful you are. Always thinking of others who may end up in your shoes. Very nice post.

  • Reply Laura Gaskill April 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Can I just say I L O V E your new business cards? Gorgeous. And although I dream of one day publishing a book, it would not be anytime soon…but I think your name tag idea would also be perfect at a blogger meetup, don’t you think? If I can get myself motivated I want to host one later this summer in the Boston area :) xo Laura

  • Reply kalanicut April 20, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    So beautiful! I love that you care so much for how the signees felt and what they experienced. There is nothing worse that meeting someone you idolize and feeling blown off by them. I can tell that each person who attended felt they were seen by you and given the gift of your creativity, time and attention. Lovely. I hope to someday put all these fabulous tips to use at a book signing. Thanks for sharing so generously as you always do.

  • Reply Nuit April 20, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Oh Holly, beautiful post!!

    well, I am not even close to publishing my own book {that would totally send me over the moon!!}, but this advice is VERY, very good to have!! oh, your cards and name tags are adorbs!!!

  • Reply carrie April 20, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    gorgeous cards… and great photos! I *wish* I had this problem with how to sign my book… lol! I’ll have to check back when that problem falls in my lap ;)

  • Reply la petite maison April 21, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Holly- Any chance you are coming to San Diego? :) The first book signing I attended was with Rachel Ashwell in 2009. She was everything you listed in your tips and more. I told her that one of my friends couldn’t make it because she got sick, and wouldn’t you know? She got a bookmark for my friend and wrote a personal note on it. Talk about making someone feel special!

  • Reply Glenda Childers April 21, 2011 at 12:41 am

    When I went to a book signing with Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman . . . she had her camera. She took a picture of my friends husband – who was taking our picture with her. The next day she blogged about all the sweet husbands and boyfriends that had come along with their women. She even had our friends picture on her blog. It was very sweet.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  • Reply Cynthia@Beach Coast Style April 21, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Again, you hit it out of the park!

  • Reply Shop Sweet Things with Jeanne April 21, 2011 at 1:26 am

    These are wonderful tips, Holly! I used to coordinate a lot of book signing events and I think your bench idea is one of my favorites! I often find people standing awkwardly next to the author trying to take a picture, but I think the bench would really solve the problem. Love your photos here and those pretty flowers!

  • Reply Serena {Pretty Fluffy} April 21, 2011 at 1:27 am

    What a wonderful post! I’m not publishing a book anytime soon, but I am always so impressed and touched at how generous and warm hearted you are in sharing these things Holly. It’s what makes you stand out from the crowd.

  • Reply Kelly April 21, 2011 at 1:30 am

    Very good tips and advice, thanks again for sharing. Have a good Easter.

  • Reply Kristin johnsen April 21, 2011 at 2:15 am

    Holly – any thoughts about maybe making book plates for you to sign and send to those of us who bought your book on amazon or other places? Another artist did that and I really appreciated that opportunity to send her a self actress’s stamped envelope for that purpose! Thanks- kristin

  • Reply Carmen Marti April 21, 2011 at 3:23 am

    I agree with Winter, you always impress me with the thought that goes into everything you do and everyone you interact with. I am so happy for your success!

  • Reply Patia April 21, 2011 at 3:28 am

    Great ideas, thank you. Saving in case I ever manage to finish and publish my book. My only suggestion is that signees should have a business card or something else to show the signer the spelling of their name. But your book idea is also a good solution for that.

  • Reply meenal @ maison marigold April 21, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Lovely tips to make the event special both for the author as well as the readers..love your cards..have a beautiful day, holly! xx meenal

  • Reply Christina April 21, 2011 at 5:38 am

    Hi Holly!
    I received my copy of Decorate a few days ago and I LOVE it! The layout and quotes on the pages feels really fresh, and I like how thick it is and all the yummy pics…thank you for a great new read!

    xo,
    Christina

  • Reply Kathy April 21, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I just received your book today and love it!!!!

    I live in Canada and was surprised that I had the option of the US cover from amazon.ca (which I prefer) and the UK version sold through chapters.indigo.ca.

    Thought you might like to know.

  • Reply leah April 21, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I Love how open you are to sharing you wealth of knowledge. It’s a beautiful quality. Will you be coming to Australia? You are welcome to stay with me if you do travel this way…
    leah x

  • Reply fenny setiawan April 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

    That s so sweet of you Holly, the last tip that you share. With that you will be able to documented a sweet memories from your beloved fans :) Lovely!

  • Reply Jane April 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    How generous of you to share these top tips with us, Holly. I am so impressed at how much care and thought you put into making everyone feel welcome. That’s the mark of a big-hearted person – kudos to you! J x

    PS I am waiting for my copy to arrive any day in faraway Australia!

  • Reply jean allsopp April 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Hi Holly!! Just got my book in the mail, and love it! The quotes are great and I love every picture!! Just curious, how long did it take to produce this book? So much good information!! Thanks for sharing!! Jean

    • Reply decor8 April 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      @Jean – We started in April 2009 and wrapped up the project end of October/early November. :)

  • Reply Liz April 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    What a great post! I hope to someday achieve the success that you have, and be able to focus my career on such a passion! I love the way this post made your book signing so cozy and YOU, I wish I could have been in fabulous London to experience it!

    Happy Thursday!

  • Reply Joana Almeida April 21, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Hello Holly! I adore your blog and I come here every day:)!

    See you, big kiss! LOVE YOUR POST!
    Joana

  • Reply Sarah (mrsgryphon) April 21, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    What a lovely list of tips – I can imagine that each person at your signing felt like a treasured friend. I don’t see any book signings in my future, but many of these ideas could be incorporated into other types of events as well. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Ali April 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    As someone who was on the organizing end of many an author signing when I worked in a bookshop, I would add to your great tips this one.
    Make sure you are super-nice to the shop staff at the venue. Remember they are the ones who will continue to up-sell your book in the weeks and months after the signing and if you make a great impression on them it really makes a big difference on their willingness and ability to do that.
    Great sales equal more book deals and happy shops – it’s a win-win!
    But somehow, I suspect you had this one covered, Holly!

  • Reply Emily@theNest April 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Holly, what great advice! I’m SO PLEASED that your book is such a success and that you are meeting lovely people through your signing. Continued happiness and success!

  • Reply Mara Rae April 22, 2011 at 1:58 am

    I love the idea of having your own “guest book,” and the bench is a great suggestion! I used to manage author signings for large venues and it would have been lovely if every author was as thoughtful as you (I guess when you’ve done a hundred or so you get a little bit jaded). It sounds like you did a fabulous job of making everyone feel special and appreciated :)

  • Reply Shell April 23, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Wow, these are great tips that can be used in not only for book signings,also, for any meet and greet. I love, love the idea of having people write in a book for you to keep to remember who came to see you.

  • Reply Shama April 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Holly! you’re such a ‘legend’ [as the aussies say! which is pretty much a sum-up of all those lovely words like wonderful, talented, funny, smart, sweet, real, cool…and so on and on and on] xx

  • Reply Courtney April 27, 2011 at 4:03 am

    I love the idea of having your guests sign a book for you. One of my favorite things to do is go back through old sketchbooks that I used for guestbooks at shows. It’s amazing to see what people say, who was there, and kind of do a “memory walk” through the night.

    Congratulations on your book!

  • Reply JT April 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Holly,
    Your letterpress cards from Tara are so beautiful. I like the idea of having letterpress bookmarks similar to your cards to hand out to your loyal fans:). I can’t wait to hear about the US tour for your wonderful book!

  • Reply Andrea Heitzman June 4, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    I just published a book. I would love to have a signing. Your ideas are great.

  • Reply Lida Citroen June 6, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    I am getting ready to do my first book signing, hosted by a business magazine (not a book store). Your tips are right on. Thank you!

    • Reply decor8 June 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

      @Lida- I wish you tons of fun and good luck!

  • Reply Luke Flanagan March 16, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Thank you for sharing, from your own experiences, what worked for your signing event… In particular your advice to have your audience sign a guest book in return. Forming a relationship with readers is most rewarding and being able to look back over the positive effect your writing has had on so many families, must be an amazing and humbling feeling.

    I look forward to absorbing your advice my own events in the coming months in Sydney having just received my first self published print run!

    Thanks again

  • Reply Dorrett A Johnson September 9, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I am a new Author who is presently planning my book signing. Thanks a million for these tips. Top of the day to you.

  • Reply Kristyne October 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Hello Holly!

    I’m so glad you wrote this post. My first book comes out in Dec (“S is for Stitch”) and my publisher (C&T Publishing) has arranged for a book signing at an International trade show (Quilt Market) this weekend in Houston.

    I’m a little nervous, but your tips have helped me feel more prepared. Thank you so much.

    Still enjoy your blog regularly and know I’m a better blogger because of you and BYW (March 2011).

    Blogging has changed my life. That is no cliche, Holly. And although I’d like to think I would have gotten to this place in my life eventually, I attribute a good deal of my progress to you, your course, your inspiration … I want you to know I’m deeply & forever grateful you share yourself with the world.

    xo Kristyne

    • Reply decor8 October 26, 2012 at 12:18 am

      Kristyne…. Thank YOU and very best with your new book! Please ask your publisher to send me an advance copy. Have fun at the quilt market!!!
      Holly

  • Reply Wendy Vineyard March 4, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Hi Holly:

    Thank you for taking the time to share your book signing tips. I’m creating a vision board to inspire me to stay on schedule so my book will be published in June 2014. A book launch is excellent evidence that your book is published!! My book is called Powerful Habits to Grow Younger Every Day – Look & Feel 10 Years Younger – Naturally! It helps to get advice from someone who has been through it – whatever ‘it’ is – to make everything flow and be fun! I especially like your suggestion about the guest book.

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