Last Saturday I did a signing down in Waco, TX at the Hastings Store there.
I was scheduled to go from 1 to 5, but I drove down the night before (Waco's a little over two hours from me) to visit a friend who was in the hospital there, and so the next morning I went ahead and showed up when the book manager arrived at 10 AM, and by 11 AM everything was ready, so I sat down and started signing. After a slow start, I had a very successful day, selling 15 copies of THE REDEMPTION OF PONTIUS PILATE and 8 copies of THE TESTIMONIUM. It is always fun to interact with people as they come into the store. I had brought a few antiquities with me - a small Riker frame full of Roman coins, rings, and a bronze brooch I purchased not long ago in the shape of a legionary. I also have an oil lamp that was dug in Jerusalem which dates to the first century. Top that off with a dish of candy, and lots of folks will stop just to look at the props, and stay to check out your books!
Favorite moments: One older black gentleman in a suit and tie carefully looked at my titles, talked with me about my books, and then purchased a copy of each because he liked the idea of a Christian message presented in a work of fiction. He said a little prayer for God to bless me with a good day as he moved on.
Another fellow picked up a copy of REDEMPTION, looked at the title and the cover art, and said "I'll take it!" without ever flipping it over to read the back or asking me a single question about the story. That's what good cover art can do for you!
I always greet folks as they come in the door by saying "Good morning/afternoon. Would you like to check out my new book while you are here?" Over half the folks will simply say no and walk on, but one lady came back a few minutes later and told me: "I am so sorry, I was in a hurry and did not mean to be so rude to you. Would you please tell me what your books are about?" I assured her she had not been rude at all, but we had a nice conversation about both my books and when it was done she bought a copy of THE TESTIMONIUM. She was one of the nicest people I talked to all day!
Another young woman came in with her boyfriend and asked me about the books. When I described THE TESTIMONIUM as "a Biblical archeology thriller" she looked at him and said "I want this!" She went on to explain how archeology is one of her passions in life.
Overall, I have discovered a few simple things that make for a successful book signing. Here are my tips for all authors and aspiring authors:
1. Grow a thick skin. The majority of people who walk through the door are not going to buy your book.
2. Be assertive! Don't just sit there and smile and wait for people to talk to you. Talk to them and hustle yourself and your works!
3. Great cover art really sells a book. REDEMPTION's initial proposed cover art just didn't really pop, and my publisher and I went back and forth a couple of times over how it should look. I was absolutely thrilled with the final result, and it definitely catches the eye and makes people want to see what the book is about.
4. Learn to summarize quickly. People don't want a 15 minute lecture, they want a quick, simple explanation of your book. Give just enough plot to make them want more!
5. Props and visual hooks work! As a collector of antiquities, I always have some stuff I can bring to make the table more visually appealing, but even if you don't have a collection of stuff related to your book, buy a few things that might tie into the story and put them on your table.
6. People like candy. If you give the little kids candy, it gives their mothers a couple of minutes to check out your book.