Chapter Book Signing = Great Success! (Plus 7 Lessons Learned)

I am happy to announce that not only did I survive my first book signing, it in fact went fairly well — huzzah!Β Pictures/video will come sometime in the next week as my photographer/videographer/hair stylist Rhiannon assembles the footage, so we’ll have to stick to text for this post. I now present …

A basic run down of what happened yesterday (aka My First Book Signing!):

8:00 AM — Woke up. Ate Cheerios. Surfed the internet.

10:00 AM — Took a shower. Got dressed. Remembered to put on deodorant.

10:30 AM — Rhiannon arrived. Sat in uncomfortable wicker chair whilst she styled my hair. Shouted at brother to hurry up in shower so I could retrieve my make-up.

11:30 AM — Applied make-up. Asked mother what time it was. Heard “11:45 AM”. Had minor panic attack.

11:32 AM — Discovered it was only 11:32 AM. Calmed down.

11:40 AM — Got in car. Drove to Chapters.

11:45 AM — Met Chapters store manager and assorted friendly employees. Was directed to wooden table where they set up approx 30 copies of my book, along with sign proclaiming “Meet Michelle Proulx!” Family brought water to prevent dehydration.

12:00 PM — Stood beside table, attempting to look non-threatening and inviting. Rhiannon set up tripod and video camera to film footage.

12:05 PM — Realized tripod and video camera were scaring people off. Rhiannon took down tripod and video camera and joined mother/brother in attached Starbucks.

12:oo-1:00 PM — Stood a bit more, having little success with attracting customers. Sat down behind table. Was rewarded by a stream of interested parties (some of whom I didn’t actually know!). Several books sold.

1:05 PM — Lull in customers. Noticed my hands were shaking and it was hard to breathe. Realized I was having a mild panic attack. Realized I was nervous about my book signing (better late than never, I guess). Realized it was stupid to have a mild panic attack, as I’d already been sitting at the table for an hour and had done just fine. Stopped having a mild panic attack.

1:30 PM — Met random woman who claimed to have read my book and loved it. Was confused, as did not recognize her. Discovered she was a Chapters employee, who had decided to read my book when she heard about the upcoming book signing. Was no longer confused. Chatted happily for several minutes.

2:00 PM — Friends arrived (several from out of town) to purchase books for themselves/friends/relatives. Sales boom. Was very excited. Handed stacks of bookmarks to friends and instructed them to wander around the store giving them out.

3:00 PM — Sales slow but steady(ish). Gave sales spiel to a woman who listened for about 10 seconds, then asked, “Wait. Is this fiction? I don’t like fairy tales”. Felt it was best not to point out the difference between fairy tales and other types of fiction.

3:15 PM — Gave sales spiel to father of two boys. Father was interested. Boys were not. When spiel concluded, younger son (5 years old) stared me direct in the eye and said “Yeah, whatever” and walked off. Father amused but embarrassed.

3:30 PM — Foot traffic and interest waned. Valiantly gave out more bookmarks. Bottom began to hurt from sitting on wooden chair for so long. Water supply dangerously low.

4:00 PM — Tentative end time of book signing. Was not told to leave, so stayed.

4:15 PM — Friends began to congregate around table, waiting for me to finish so we could leave. Sent friend to look for manager.

4:30 PM — Manager on phone, so spoke with different manager. Thanked them for their hospitality, packed up things, left some bookmarks, and exited Chapters.

Total books sold = 17

Mission = Great Success!

7 lessons learned from my first book signing:

  1. Make sure your signage indicates that you are the author. Otherwise you’ll get people walking up to the table, staring at you, then at your book, and then tentatively asking, “Did you … um … write this?”
  2. Make sure your signage indicates that you are local (if appropriate). As soon as people hear you’re local, they’ll be much more interested in hearing what you have to say.
  3. Make sure you have something to hand out, other than books. And also make sure your handouts (bookmarks, stickers, etc.) have your info on it — i.e., the name of your book, your name, your website — so that even if the person doesn’t buy your book at the signing, they still have the necessary information to purchase it at a later date.
  4. Look professional and approachable. (Note: Big thanks to my mother, who financed my official “author signing” outfit.)
  5. Bring/acquire water. Talking makes you thirsty.
  6. Have your sales pitch somewhat worked out beforehand. I didn’t. That made talking about my book an … interesting exercise.
  7. Don’t be offended if someone doesn’t want to buy your book. Thank them for their time, and send them off with a smile. There’s always next time!

Unrelated media of the day:

This image needs no explanation. It simply is.

Categories: Self Publishing, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 63 Comments

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63 thoughts on “Chapter Book Signing = Great Success! (Plus 7 Lessons Learned)

  1. Reblogged this on Robin Writes and commented:
    From Michelle Proulx:

  2. Good tips for signings. IF every book signing could be like the first, we would all be rich!

    • Hahaha so true, right? I was hoping that people would be so awed at the thought of meeting a real life author that they would swarm the table and snap up all my books in the first 30 minutes, but sadly most people just walked right past without stopping. Alas. I know in the future I’ll be making a point of stopping by and chatting whenever I see an author doing a signing. Even if I don’t buy the book, I now know that they definitely appreciate the company πŸ™‚

      • I agree. Now that I have had done a few signings, I realize it is just rude to pretend the author doesn’t exist. I will at least say hello and pick up a business card. You just never know when a stranger will pull that card out of her purse one day and decide to order your book!

        • I think part of the problem is that when you walk past an author table, your immediate thought is “Oh God, if I talk to him/her, they’re going to expect me to buy their book”. I almost want to make up a sign that says “Come chat with me! No pressure to buy my book!” or something.

          • That’s true, too. I hate being pressured to buy something. I was in sales for several years and hated the dog-eat-dog part of it.

            • I was in a clothing store the other day, and the sales girl was waaaaay overbearing. She was convinced that she knew exactly what I wanted, that I would buy anything I tried on once she’d explained why it looked so fabulous on me, and refused to listen to a word I said. I was very tempted to make a run for it when she was out finding a pencil skirt that she insisted would go with the top I was trying on.

              In conclusion, pushy salespeople are the worst!

  3. Sounds like a great experience. Seventeen books is a handsome number

    • For a while I despaired that they were all going to my friends, but I did get to chat with a couple of people who didn’t know me, and that was really cool. I actually got an email today from a lady who’s husband bought her the book yesterday and had me sign it “Happy Birthday”. She said she loved her present — it was really sweet πŸ™‚

  4. Congratulations, Michelle! That does sound like a successful book signing. Thanks for sharing the lessons you learned. I like the idea of handing out bookmarks. They easy to carry around for one and, yes, that person who didn’t buy your book then, might be likely to buy it later simply they have that bookmark πŸ™‚

    • That’s the hope! Thanks very much πŸ™‚ It was quite fun — I was hoping to sell all 32 copies, but 17 ain’t bad. As for the lessons learned … well, you know me — failing in order that others might succeed πŸ˜€

  5. Reblogged this on 1WriteWay and commented:
    Michelle gives us a humorous rundown of her first book signing as well as some important lessons she learned from the experience. If you have yet to face your first book signing, do read Michelle’s post. If you have survived your first (and perhaps many other) book signing, please share your experience. Us newbies want to learn πŸ™‚

  6. Jueseppi B.


  7. Jueseppi B.

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Comβ„’ and commented:
    Congratulations to my blogger friend Ms. Michelle Proulz, on her very first book signing.

  8. Sounds awesome! Congrats on your first book signing! πŸ˜€

  9. Congrats, Michelle! 17 is a pretty good number indeed. πŸ˜€ I was particularly amused by the woman who doesn’t read “fairy tales” and the 5-year-old.

    • Hahaha yeah. I was really, really tempted to call her back and explain to her that there’s a big difference between fairy tales and science fiction, but … well, I didn’t want to make a scene, lol.

  10. Good tips, especially about the signage for the table.

    • I didn’t even think about it until the third or fourth person was honestly surprised that I was the author (I assume due to the lack of signage). Still, though … why else would someone be sitting behind a table stacked high with a single book title if they weren’t an author? Very strange.

  11. Gwen

    What a great day and informative post! Congrats on making lots of sales. Has the shop agreed to carry copies of your book?
    I think that 5-year-old needs a smack upside the head!

    • Hahaha um, you realize you just recommended striking a child, right? πŸ˜› Yeah, it was a really fun day! The shop is going to carry the remaining 15 copies left in the store … I’m not sure for how long, probably at least a little while.

  12. Excellent result! Love the way yout told that. So the only footage we see will be of people running away in fear? Or will it be a shaky, yoyeur-style spy cam on exreme zoom from behind a plant in Starbucks? πŸ˜‰

    • Hahaha. I wish it was the latter. Um, I think the only footage my friend got of the signing itself is just me standing awkwardly behind my table. But we filmed for a bit after I got home from the signing — my thoughts on how the signing went, etc. — and we got some “testimonials” from my friends who came to visit me. Some of the “testimonials” are quite inspirational, and paint me in a great light. Others (cough*brother*cough) are just silly.

      • Testimonials can be a good draw card. I just realised another thing you can do for you next signing. When there are people hanging around but not approaching you while no one is at your table, that’s the best time to have a “random” (*cough*friend*cough) shopper or two walk up and “buy a book” and have you sign it. A friend with a megaphone might help too. πŸ˜‰

        • Hahaha one of my friends actually bought a copy and then walked around the store pretending to read it while loudly proclaiming “This is such a great book! I’m so glad I bought it from Michelle Proulx, who is having a book signing at the front of the store!” Points for enthusiasm, but I suspect people might have seen through his clever deception.

  13. Great tips Michelle. I thought the timeline was great. I think if it was me, breakfast would never reached my lips!
    Congratulations too πŸ™‚

    • Well, I knew I wouldn’t be eating until 5pm, and I didn’t want my stomach to start rumbling halfway through the afternoon, so it was less choice, and more necessity πŸ˜€

  14. Wow, 17 books? AND, barring the rude youth, it sounds like your experience was overall a good one! ^^ (Btw, loved the parts where you remembered to put on deodorant, and realized you were nervous in the middle. You’re, like, my idol.) I will take all of these tips to heart in the event I ever get to do this, and don’t worry–I have real faith that you’ll be so popular someday, people will be clamoring over your table and the people today will get to brag that they got to actually CHAT with you, before there were employees ushering them in and out of the line so that all of the thousands of people in line can get a signature. πŸ˜‰

    • Just keepin’ it real, yo yo. Yeah, it was pretty awesome πŸ™‚ And the “rude youth” was an adorable 5 year old, so it was all good, lol.

      Oooooh you think? The problem with being famous is that I’d almost definitely acquire some sort of stalker, and stalkers are creepy. I’d have to get a restraining order and hire private security and drive around in a car with tinted glass … actually, that sounds awesome. Bring on the stalkers!

      • xDD I was going to say, I feel like the perks of being famous enough to have stalkers would outweigh the cons. My mom is always like, ‘if we won the lottery, we’d have to get bodyguards, and we wouldn’t be normal anymore…’ and I’m like, but dude, we’d have MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. (but I might be slightly materialistic, so.)
        Anyway, can’t wait for the next update. πŸ™‚

        • I think that, if I were to win the lottery, I would want to keep it as secret as possible. Then I could distribute my funds as I chose, rather than being inundated with people demanding money.

          • That would be the downside. But I’m pretty good at saying, ‘No, I don’t really think we are related,’ so. xD And they can demand all they want–I’ll just have my new bodyguard give them a scary look. ;P

  15. Well done Michelle – sorry I missed this post first time round! And excellent sales result, 17 is awesome I reckon. I really admire you for having the courage to do this – I’d be worried about the sales spiel bit as I am useless at that! πŸ™‚

    • Oh, I’m fairly useless at sales spiels as well, lol. I ended up mostly comparing my book to Star Wars, and then blathering about alien abduction and space pirates for a while until they either bought the book or walked away πŸ˜€

  16. Hilarious account of your book signing venture Michelle. David Sedaris move over! I really enjoyed reading it – and thanks for the tips! Loved the llama too.

  17. Great post Michelle. I love your sense of humour, and it sounds like it was a great first event! Here’s to hoping that one day it will be queues around the block.

  18. i would be absolutely shit scared!

  19. Sounds like you had a great time in the end and hydrated too πŸ™‚

    17 sales is a great number as well.

    • Thanks! Yeah, it was pretty fun – and I did end up drinking an entire glass of water! Go me! 17 … not too shabby for my first signing πŸ™‚ Granted, over half of those were to my friends who I coerced into buying copies, but still πŸ˜€

      • Hopefully you persuade them to turn up to all your signings. Even if they already have a copy, they need to keep supporting you. Right? πŸ™‚

  20. Congrats! Good tips, too. I would add, have a cheat sheet of things to write in the books. My mind goes BLANK….

    • That’s an excellent idea! my go-tos have so far been “Thanks for supporting me!” “I hope you have a blast reading my book!”, and “Reach for the stars!”

  21. Maya Panika

    I’m supposed to be doing my first read/signing soon. Thanks for the heads-up on what to expect!

  22. Interesting and amusing. Loved the advice. Although I’m a publisher writer, I’ve never written a book and appreciated the book signing advice. Wishing you all the best, Deb

    • Hey, even if the advice isn’t useful now, you can always store it away and use it later πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading! Glad it amused you πŸ˜€

  23. Hola! I’ve been reading your site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent job!

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