Six steps to a sellout book signing

If you’ve never done a booksigning, you’ve undoubtedly seen one. There’s an author sitting in a chair behind a big stack of books on a table. The author is trying desperately to make eye contact with you and you are trying desperately to not make eye contact, especially if the sign next to the author reads, “check out the latest from Romance Author Jane Doe” and you are a die hard thriller reader. And that’s the precise word for it, desperation. Sitting there the author is drowning in desperation. You, as customer, are probably thinking, “look at that poor schmuck with a table full of books that no one’s buying.” Undoubtedly, the author is probably thinking, “I can’t beleive I have to sit here like a schmuck and try to sell books. I’m a writer, not a salesperson!”

But, there are some secrets to having a successful book signing. I was fortunate enough to sell out of all the copies the Barnes & Noble at Park and Preston in Plano had on hand for my signing and it really wasn’t that hard to do. Here’s how I did it:

1. Location, location, location. Be as close to the front of the store as possible. That way, you can greet every customer as they come in. If you’re doing a signing at a Barnes & Noble, see if you can be put near the nook eReader display. A few reasons for this. First, most nook displays are located right dead center at the front of the store. Not only will you be greeting each customer, but many will be hanging out around the nook display.

2. Make the staff your sales force. Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the signing and introduce yourself to every staff member. Tell them about your book so that they can recommend it to customers. One of the staff members will most likely do an announcement (or a few) during your signing. Bring along a script for them to read. Again, this is where being close to the nook display helps. The nook display is manned by a staff member and as you’re walking around the store (more on that below) they can watch your table for you. They can either make an announcement over the intercom (“author to your table, please”) or tell people about your book, keeping them there until you get back.

3. NEVER SIT – “Look at that schmuck sitting there with all those books to sell.” That thought can never enter a customer’s mind if you’re not sitting. Stand. Always. Approach customers with a bookmark (get cheap bookmarks for great quality at

4. Be like a shark…keep moving. Walk around the store handing out bookmarks, but don’t stray from the table for too long (2 minutes per stroll max) I can’t tell you how many books I’ve sold doing the stroll. Think about it. Many people visit a bookstore to browse new and different titles. Put something in their hand for them to read.

5. Encourage people to sign up for your email list. Have a email sign-up to help build your fan base and keep Top of Mind (TOM) with the readers you meet.   

6. Write a press release about the signing – Without question, the biggest numbers I get from my blog posts are when I write a press release. I’m still getting to know what keywords work and search engine optimization and all that, but whenever a blog entry is titled “press release – blah blah bah) my numbers go up about three fold. That means more people are reading about my successful signing, and hopefully buying the book that did so well at the signing. Ain’t it funny how books that sell sell more books? It’s a mad, mad world.   


The Brink by Mark Fadden has just been nominated for the Star Award from its publisher! Read more about The Brink and Mark’s writing at