Lessons Learned from my Book Signing Event

As the saying goes, experience is the best teacher, the reason everyone wants to find out for themselves. I held a book signing event in May 2019 and I plan to do it again, over and over.

I published my first book as an indie in 2016, and organized my first book signing in 2019. Many would ask why it took me that long. I have an answer, I was waiting to get more confident, which I have now.


The time in between was spent to refine the books into a product my readers would enjoy. I did that by engaging services of professionals in book publishing as follows:

  1. Cathy designed book covers that have helped me create that first impression whenever readers see my novels.

  2. The books have been edited and proofread by professional editors.

  3. My wardrobe editor made sure I dressed the characters in befitting attires.

  4. I used professionally designed book templates to design the interior of each title.

Book marketing

In my 2019 annual work plan, I introduced book marketing into my list of book publishing activities - I would promote my books to libraries and bookstores. In March, I visited bookstores and as a result Coles reviewed my books and they were accepted into the Indigo bookstores.

That’s how on May the 11th, 2019 I was at Coles Southgate promoting and selling two of my book titles, Ignited by Education and Propelled by a Job.

Here’s how I prepared for the book signing event

Once I was done with the panicking part, I researched to establish what items I would need before the actual day. I asked members of some of the book related groups I have subscribed to, including the Alliance of Independent Authors and Writers Guild of Alberta to share tips from their knowledge and experience. They sure did and I made the following list of items to get ready:

  • Order print books to arrive in good time

  • Posters, 8 X 11:

    • Author photo with a summary description of the genre and description of the book series, and an invitation for people to come, ask me what happens when the African girl-child acquires an education and becomes a career-woman.

    • Book covers with a visible book price

  • Postcards - photos of book covers and where to make a purchase – I added Amazon, Kobo and my website.

  • Name tag

  • Business cards

  • Stationery: assorted pens in an attractive container, Post-it, Notepad, book racks, acrylic poster holders, paper bags, table clothe.

  • Trolley for easy pulling of heavy books

  • Drinking water, dry snacks, mints, hand sanitizer.

On the material day I dressed in my book signing attire (see blouse and head gear) and heeled shoes, I carried an extra pair of flats in case standing in heels became tiring.

I arrived fifteen minutes to time and introduced myself to the first store staff I encountered. I was happy that they were well informed of my book signing that day. They brought a table, chair, tablecloth, book racks and acrylic poster holders for my use.

I set up the books, posters and stationery on the table. To access the view people entering and leaving the Mall would have, I walked a short distance away and viewed the table as a passerby would – each time I went back and adjusted items on the table. I also took photos of the set-up.

I greeted anyone who paused or appeared to have questions based on what they saw on the table. I introduced myself as the author, and asked if they like to read books and what genre they preferred. That got us into a conversation after which they asked what my books were about. The discussion ended with the words, “I will buy book one, or I will buy both titles.” I offered to autograph the book, gave them a paper to write the name they would like me to sign the book to. After, I thanked them and pointed them to the store sales desk for them to complete the purchase.

Initially I worried what messages I would write as part of the autograph, but the individual messages came easy after the conversation I had with the person which gave me insights into who they were – likes, aspirations, etc.

I encouraged people to pick a postcard, especially those who said they would check online for my e-books or they would think about reading the books later. I thanked each individual for stopping to talk with me.

Lessons learned

  1. People want to read books - authors need to attend events at public spaces to introduce and avail the books.

  2. We all long to hear people-centered stories - people were willing to stay and chat in relation to the wider setting of your books, Africa.

  3. Retain your uniqueness – looks, dress, and stories as some people want to see and hear something different from theirs.

  4. Next time I will add another poster with the words, “Local Author” - some people asked where I live - others must have thought I flew in for the book signing, though that would be fantastic to do.

  5. Get burners with all my books and a multi-level book display rack - to give prominence to my table, especially for events not at a bookstore.

Seven hours later I informed the Cole bookstore staff that my allocated time was up. I thanked them for putting up the event. I packed all the items and returned the store items before I said my byes and left for the day.

Have you ever organized a book signing event, or stopped by one? What ideas would you add to my list above?