How to Survive a Book Signing When You’re Not J.K. Rowling

This is a guest post by Connie Sokol.Connie is the mother of six children and author of Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, as well as Life is Too Short for One Hair Color, and Life is Too Short for Sensible Shoes. She is a contributor for KSL’s Studio 5 morning show, and a former TV and radio host. For great and useful blog posts that will help you laugh/cry/love your veggies, visit

At some point you and I will have to again face the unthinkable””three hours of sitting like a veal, at a table, in a catatonic state until an unsuspecting citizen approaches within three feet, and we respond by enthusiastically coming to life like a theme park animatron.

Welcome to a book signing.Connie Sokol, Faithful fit and fabulous, LDS books, womanhood

Or a launch party. Or a presentation, or any event where an author gets out of his or her comfort zone (mainly, a padded typing chair). Here are some thoughts on how to make signing time””or any promotional event””more worthwhile.

Make a presence. Whether it’s a book signing table or a personal business card, “the cover” is everything. Make all you do eye-catching with bright color, unique presentation, or something that pops. In a word, give them a reason to take a second look. For my Faithful, Fit & Fabulous book, an orange Gerber daisy is a focal point. That has become part of my branding””meaning, something that a customer sees and instantly links to me (i.e. woman sees an orange Gerber daisy, feels a rush of positive endorphins, and runs to the nearest store to purchase my book). Definitely choose an “inspirational piece” as my designer friend instructed me. For my launch party for the same book, BYU Campus Craft and Floral suggested I use immense orange and teal three-foot balloons. Perfect. They could be seen from Wisconsin and I think created more buzz than the book. If you’re game, I also recommend a tall pull-up color banner. I use one that’s six-feet by three-feet but ridiculously small to carry (like a giant Toostie Roll) and easy to use (simply pull up from the casing). Instantly, it denotes “professional.”

Add movement. People are busy but movement catches their eye. At a signing table, consider using a laptop with a looped DVD of a presentation. It doesn’t have to be speaking to the White House, just a group of friends, or even you at a podium (preferably with some “pop” behind you). What do you talk about? Something interesting! You’re a published author””people always want to know what makes people write a book (wouldn’t we also love to know). Or how to get published””most everyone wants to publish a book “in their spare time.” If you’re not famous (that’s most of us) quote someone who is. J.K. Rowling gave an excellent speech at a Harvard commencement where she spoke about the upside of failure. I’ve used that quote several times in my speaking and blogging. And if all else fails, talk about achieving your dreams, because writing and publishing have many of the same highs and lows and fridge-foraging that go with achieving any dream. For my DVD I use segments from my previous KSL’s “Studio 5″ days and an Education Week talk I did for BYU back when it was practically still the academy. But I’ve found that women watch. And it’s something fabulous for them to do while you’re signing a book.

Faithful Fit and Fabulous by Connie SokolGive them something to take home. People need to know what’s in it for them. They don’t care about your book (did I actually put that in print?) but they want to know how it will benefit them, make their life fabulous, help them lose 20 pounds, or escape into a lovely world from which they will emerge ready to vanquish their laundry. This is your Best Novel Ever and your one chance. Give them the “why they should buy” in one sentence: “It’s about blah-blah-blah””one lady couldn’t put it down even while she was in labor.” Testimonials in one breath””or on your bookmark””can immediately set you apart and say, This is why you should spend $12.99 on my book. And last but not least, do giveaways. I include my self-published products (see, there is a use for those), gift baskets (trade with a friend who does them beautifully), and bring chocolate (that’s for you).

Capture their information. Provide slips of paper for the prize drawings that require name and email address. Let them know you have tips or great blog posts that will make them laugh/cry/love their dog. And make the gift baskets really, really cool.

I’m not a pro at book signings, launch parties, or making people love their dog. But I have been presenting for 15 years and know a little about capturing and keeping an audience. Make a presence, add the movement, give them something to use right now, and capture their information so you can hunt them down and compel them to know more about your Best Novel Ever.


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