Friday, April 29, 2022

14 Basic Tips for a Successful Book Signing

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Book signings . . .

For every want-to-be author they sound like a dream come true. 

For those of us who have more than one book published . . . well . . . not always.

Whether you’re a seasoned author or just releasing your first book, there are certain things that can make you book signing successful and much less terror-inspiring. 

Basic Tips for Book Signing Events

1. Make it an event. I’m speaking from experience here when I tell you that sitting behind a table with a stack of books, business cards, and a pen is a recipe for being ignored and disappointed. However, if you add some balloons, some friends, giveaways, and cupcakes (if allowed) people will come from all parts of the store to see what’s happening.

2. Don’t sit down. Don’t even let them bring you a chair, it’s just too tempting. Here’s why:
  • It’s too easy to overlook you when you’re seated and below the customer or attendee’s line of site. 
  • It makes you look unapproachable.
  • It makes it hard to interact and engage casual lookers.

3. Stand in front or beside your table of books. Hiding behind something may feel safer for those of us who are introverts, but the truth is you need to be inviting people to slow down chat. 

4. Have something in your hand to give away. When you’re at your book signing, don’t go empty-handed. It could be bookmarks, a postcard, or even a short trivia quiz (more on what to DO in # 5). If you hand someone something, it begins a real connection.

5. Consider an activity. If you’re doing a book marriage, come up with a short, funny quiz for those who come near to take. If you’re sharing a children’s book, put together a short scavenger hunt. Give away a PDF of tips on how to pray for your kids, or a coloring page with a Bible verse. The ideas are endless, but giving people a way to interact with make them more likely to stop and buy a book. 

6. Enlist your friends. We have a vibrant writing community here where I live (Greenville, SC) and I’m part of several writing groups. When it comes to book signings, we support each other. I encourage writers to support other writers by attending book signings because you want the same support when it’s your turn. 

By asking friends and family to come by, it ensures a steady stream of visitors and helps make your book signing become an event as opposed to an interruption. I also arm those who come to support me with bookmarks and business cards and send them throughout the store. They can hand out the bookmarks and encourage those who haven’t talked to me to stop by and see what I’ve got. 

7. Have a big giveaway or two. One thing I love to do is giveaway gift cards or certificates to the bookstore where I’m signing books. This helps the bookstore’s bottom line and your sales. And by big giveaway, I’m not talking hundreds of dollars, just something that’s actually worth money. 

8. Have a way to subscribe to your email list. For someone to enter the drawing, I ask them to enter their name and email on my iPad (or computer) and subscribe to my mailing list. If someone refuses to do that, I still let them enter (it’s the nice thing to do) but I don’t have many who balk at sharing email for a change to win a prize. 

I don’t use written slips of paper because they’re hard to read after I get home and I get a lot of unsubscribes if they don’t actually enter their own names.

9. Enlist an assistant. If you're expecting a good sized-crowd find someone to help you manage the line. Provide small squares of paper for those in line to print their names on. This will help you with spelling. 

10. Invest in several good pens. Every author has their favorite type. I'm partial to signing with a Sharpie brand. Just make sure the ink won't smudge.

11. Announce the book signing in advance. I utilize social media, email and to friends and family. This is when I can share what the “Grand Prize” will be for attending. 

12. Consider an online component. Since I’m already sharing the event on social media, I add a second big prize that I draw from those who share about the event on social media. I use RaffleCopter to do that so I don’t break any rules on the various social media platforms. 

In addition, see if you have a friend who will share pictures and maybe a short video of your book signing while it’s going on. That allows those who can’t attend to enjoy it vicariously. 

13. Be aware of what you can and can’t do. Depending on where your book signing is, there may be some guidelines you need to follow. In a bookstore, they may or may not allow food and drink. If you’re at a restaurant, there may be other guidelines. Find out the rules and follow them. That will ensure getting asked back! 

14. Don’t forget to thank the host. If you’re signing at a book store, bring some cookies or something to leave with them after the event is done. 

These are my dozen basic tips to make a book signing successful. I’d love to know what you’d add to this list?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Connect with her on her website, through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Featured Image: Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash


  1. Great tips! Thank you, Edie.

  2. What amazing pro tips Edie! Thank you for sharing.
    ...I'm hoping you didn't learn every one of these the hard way. lol

    1. Unfortunately I DID learn almost all of them the hard way. LOL! Blessings, E

  3. Thank you for this, Edie. Book signings are what you make of them. I really appreciate your tips.

  4. These are awesome tips. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. Barbara, I'm so glad they were helpful. Blessings, E

  5. I would never have thought of #8. Thanks for this great list!

    1. Tammy, it's another one I learned the hard way! Blessings, E

  6. Thank you for sharing these helpful tips. I look forward to being able to use them one day!

  7. Love this! Not that I've done a lot of these, but I like to have others with me who handle all the sales and run the table so I literally just stand and greet people and visit. This also helps so I don't have to try to talk and handle money at the same time (bad combo!).