What To Bring To A Book Signing - Candice Gilmer Books

What To Bring To A Book Signing

 Whether it's Indoor or an Outdoor Event, there are things you always need.

I’ve done a ridiculous amount of indoor and outdoor events over the last fifteen years. I enjoy interacting with readers and engaging with them. Over the years, I’ve gotten really good at setting up a nice table, and I've learned a lot of tricks and tips to getting ready for a public event to sell books.

All of us want to sell all the books at these events. It can be very scary to do it the first time. 

I know there’s a lot of authors out there that just don’t know what they need to bring, or feel intimidated by the idea of getting ready for a book signing.

I created this list to help ease that worry, and hopefully help writers get ready for their big day with a little less stress, and feel a little more ready for this big day. 

I even made a printable check list as well to use. 

(I added a few links for some items as I went for reference). 

Here's the basics

  1. Your books. Order early, and order more than you think you need, because there is always a damaged one or two in a batch. Also, if you’re going to be outdoors, be prepared in case of potential rain. Gallon ziplock bags work great in a pinch, and if you have the time, shrink-wrapping the books is also great to protect them in case of rain. 
  2. Pens. Yes. These can be forgotten. I’ve done it.
  3. A Price Sheet and a Bio. A price sheet is good if you have more than one book. Also, a great promo at a venue is to “bundle” your books. (Reg price -- $12.00 each, get two for $20). A bio tells people a little bit about who you are--if you’re feeling fancy, you can put a QR code on it, so people can scan and link right to your site.
  4. Newsletter Signup Option. Whether it’s a free ebook with signup card, or a paper list or a QR code, be sure to have a way, or even more than one way to collect those potential new readers. 
  5. Swag. Bookmarks, character art prints, or book list with all your books, whether in print or ebook exclusive. Any printed stock of promo cards for your books are great too. Shove them in the print books, and spread them on the table for people to take with them. Be sure all are branded with at least your website or social media stuff so they can find you. Also any little giveaway item (key ring, pen, chapstick, anything you have), and business cards with your website and email on them. Please, be sure you brand as much as you can.
  6. Sales Bags. Some kind of bags to put purchases in, whether you use plastic thank you bags, or go with branded paper bags, you’ll want something to put that pile of books in for the reader. (Hint- buy plain paper sacks, and put your logo on it with a sticker or stamp, a cheap alternative to purchasing custom printed bags).
  7. Change. Most people usually bring large bills with them. Having change is important. Most people pay anymore with a card, but just in case, change will be needed. A good starting place is $40-$50 in change.
  8. A Credit Card Reader with your smart phone or tablet. In today’s world, where people just use their cards, these little tools can be a great asset. The minimal charge per swipe is worth the expense. And, of course, that fee can be written off as a business expense. Note: These take a few days to ship and set up the accounts through the bank, so order one ahead. If you get one, and never use it, you don’t get charged anything for it.
  9. Inventory Sheet (or app). I kept a paper checklist at first, but now that I have an online store through Shopify, I use the Shopify POS app that syncs with my store. I recommend tracking what you bring, and what you go home with for your records, however you choose to track it.
  10. Tablecloth. At least a neutral, dark one. Layering table cloths can help add a great look, and add to your brand. I personally use a black tablecloth as a base, a black and white check cloth over that, and a pink sequenced table runner from amazon. I use a cloth banner with my logo on it to brand. It sounds like a lot, but it works well.
  11. Banner and/or signs to promote your books and/or brand (like the genre of all your books). Vinyl banners, or even a printed table runner can really polish off your table.
  12. Book Stands. Whether you have a few books or a couple dozen, vertical stands to show your books is a must. Picture stands work well for individual books, and there are many tiered book stand options you can get as well, if you have a lot of books.
  13. Sign holders and Display Stands. An acrylic display can stand up your bio and price list. Also, brochure stands are great for displaying bookmarks. Even cups or tiered acrylic stands.  Also, you want business card holders. If they have some weight to them, all the better, because they won't get dislodged easily, especially if you're outdoors. 
  14. Cart or dolly. This is almost a necessity. You don’t want to make a dozen trips from your car to the location.
  15. Table Decorations. Especially if you don’t have a lot of books published, and need to fill out your table, accessories and accents are a must. I have seen dragons and goblets on fantasy author tables. Hearts, wine glasses on romance author tables, and skulls matching an author’s book series, Even space guns on a scifi writer’s table. So your options are limited only by your imagination.


That’s what you need, the basics.

Now if your event is outdoors, there’s more things you’ll need to bring.

  1. Table and Chairs. Because if there’s not enough tables, it’s always good to have a backup in the trunk. Most events will provide a 6’ or 8’ table. But having your own is always good. A 6’ folding table on Amazon is reasonable. I also recommend a comfortable folding chair.
  2. Scissors. Because you will need to cut something. It always happens.
  3. Weights. Paper weights, table cloth weights, anything to hold your table down. (Decorations can help with this too, so double-use!) Wind is unpredictable. Anchoring down the tablecloth and swag is a must. Even decorative boxes work. They take up table space, but they also will raise your display vertically, and that will draw attention to your table.
  4. Tape. Not duct tape, either. Clear, sturdy tape. Packing tape works best. It holds vinyl banners on tables without any damage. Since it’s clear, it doesn’t disturb the look of your table. Nor does it tear anything up when you remove it, which is a plus.
  5. Candy. Candy brings people to your table. They will stop for a piece, and usually stand there long enough to talk to you a bit, and talking can lead to a sale. A dish to put the candy in is optional, but just dumping it on the table works too. Individually wrapped candy, (like Tootsie Rolls or Hershey’s Kisses), is best, because people are funny about open food, like M&M’s. Especially if you’re in an outside venue. Also consider the weather--if it's going to be hot, don't bring something that will melt! 
  6. Breath mints. No one likes dragon breath.
  7. Food and Drink. You should always bring at the least a couple of drinks, and something to snack on. Or pack a lunch. Also don’t put your food/drinks in the same bins as your books. Accidents happen, and Mountain Dew coated books do not sell well.
  8. Hand Sanitizer. Always a good idea. It doesn't help that at outdoor venues, the port-o-potties always run out of hand sanitizer. (Gallon sizes are good too! Just kidding. Okay, I'm not.) 
  9. Blanket and extra clothing layers. Again, be mindful of the weather. The weather could change in a second. I've been fine for half a day, and then a cold snap had me in my leggings and short sleeve shirt shivering.
  10. Simple first aid kit. I always recommend at least headache meds and bandages. Sunscreen and Bug spray are good to have too. 
  11. Paper towels and/or baby wipes. Sometimes the tables will be dirty, and any accidental spills can be cleaned up. Also a Swiffer duster is great if you’re outdoors, and it’s windy. Your books can get dusty, and you will want to wipe them off before you pack them away.
  12. A little bag for trash.


And after you’re set up:

Take a look at it from the front and the sides. Make sure it looks pleasing from all angles. (If you’re on a corner, make sure all angels look nice) Also, any little things you may have for your personal use need to be kept underneath the table, or out of general line-of-sight (Like coffee cups, etc). It looks neater, and less likely to spill on your stock.


Remember to smile, have a good time, and be proud of yourself!
Not only did you write some books, you published them,
and now you're going to sell them! 
You got this! 


Once again, here's that printable check list here, that you can use to help you get set up! 

Hope this helps you get ready for your next event!


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