Surviving Your First Book Signing
Once you've published your first novel, one thing you will want to do (and possibly be contractually obligated to do) is a book signing. In fact, you will want to do a few of them. It's a good way to get your name out there, to meet people, to create some publicity, to generate interest in your writing. And you might also sell a few copies along the way!
My first book signing was an intimidating experience. I arranged it myself by contacting the book manager of a local Hastings, who help me select a date and time for the event. I brought the copies to the store in advance, so she could enter them into their store computer system. At that time I dropped off some promotional fliers that were hung around the store.
One bit of advice, make your contacts early. Some of these stores have pretty full calendars, and it might be a few weeks until they can fit you into the schedule. Be bold. Call every local bookstore. See if they will carry your book and see if they will schedule a book signing. Yes, it can be awkward, but you have to dredge up confidence in yourself and your writing.
You might also consider contacting local media to let them know about the book signing. Smaller newspapers and journals are more likely to take notice, but get the word out by any means possible. Social media is always a good idea. Invite friends, family and acquaintances. People who know you are often excited at the prospect of attending the book signing of someone they know, and their presence can generate buzz during the event.
Yes, It Will Be Awkward
Writing a novel is such a personal affair. It's just you, your imagination and the computer. Now, suddenly, as a published author, you have to sit in front of people and talk about your book and convince them to buy it. It is awkward, yes, and there is no way around it. Prepare for the adjustment of turning a private hobby into a public event.
Grin Like a Fool
You will be sitting there at a table in the middle of a store, staring at the door while people wander past you. Try not to look angry or bored. Make eye contact, greet people and grin like a fool. Don't pester people, though. If they want to stand off to one side and discretely stare at your table, let them do so. Even if people pass on the book, it is a good idea to bring along some bookmarks or cards that you can hand out for free. Include links to your author webpage and social media contacts.
Be friendly, be approachable. Act confident. And don't feel embarrassed. Yes, there will be stretches of time where you are just sitting there talking to no one. Yes, some people might walk by and think, "Oh, that poor lonely soul, trying to sell his book." You might sell a dozen copies, you might sell half a dozen, you might sell only one, but, hey, you did it! You are a published author. You are living your dream. And how many people can say that?