By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine
I overheard a woman from Wisconsin at a party say, “If there’s one thing Southerners know, it’s how to entertain guest.” She’s right! Even though the days of full skirts with petticoats, gloves and hats are gone, the art of entertaining is still engrained.
Where better to show off your hostess skills than your own book-signing event.
Make it a memorable event. As an author, you want to make a lasting impression.
Be sure and choose your color scheme.
Make a list of who you want to come and send out your email invitations. Those invitations should go out a few days to a few weeks prior to the event. When you send out the emails, it should include the image of your book cover along with place and time. On Social Media, be sure and upload the picture of your cover along with invitation. It’s always good to send a reminder a day before.
When we prepare for an event we want to make sure the people who are helping us, (bookstore employees) know how important they are and how much we appreciate their assistance. What better way to show this than to bring each one a little goodie. Something I think nice, even though it takes a little effort, is to buy some tulle fabric. Choose a color on the cover of your book. Pick up dainty ribbon in a nice contrast color to tie tulle. Then choose something as simple as “Chocolate Kisses” to put in the tulle. You know the rest; cut the tulle in nice squares where they will hold at least 6 to 8 pieces, wrap the tulle around them, and tie with the dainty ribbon. Give these to all the people at the store. They will appreciate your gesture of recognition and do everything they can to make sure you have a good book signing.
Every hostess should make sure her table is appropriate for the occasion. Spend a little and dress it up…if nothing else, you could add some of the color tulle around the table. It would be nice to have a blown up picture (at least 8x10) of your book sitting on your table, along with a bowl of hard candy.
If possible, wear something on your person the color on your book cover. What you are doing is taking advantage of the visual sense and marking your book on their minds.
I would suggest bringing a friend who can help you. One who can take pictures of you and your guest throughout the book signing? Give your friend a sentence he or she can use when someone asks about your book. What I think helps here is giving your friend business cards with your book and website address. They can give them out to everyone coming and going. Consider choosing a friend who is outgoing and not shy. All you need on the business card is the cover of your book, a short description and your website. This gives them something to hold in their hand while at the same time keeps the cover and title of your book in front of their eyes and gives them your website to visit.
Let your guest know you will be posting the pictures on your website, which should reinforce them visiting your site.
Make it a point to speak to each person. Find out something about them. Show interest. Let them know how much you appreciate their coming. While they are smiling and talking with you, be sure and have your friend grab the picture.
I suggest you offer a drawing. They don’t have to be present to win. Hand them one of your cards, and ask them to put their name on the back, their email address and phone number so you can notify them if they win. Now you have names to add to your email list. People always like gifts.
The drawing could be a gift card of some type. However, I think one of the best drawings is a free signed copy of your next book. Why? To grow their anticipation, create a desire to keep up with your work. There’s even a good chance they may buy some of your older books to read while waiting for your newest book. You want to create a reader fan.
If you have a blog and talk about writing your book, be sure and invite this person to sign up and follow along. This gives the reader an opportunity to bond with you.
Your event, I am sure, will go well. The day after, send thank you notes to the employees at the bookstore, and your friend. You could even drop by with pastries.
You want people to remember you; your name and title of you book. They will recommend your books to others too.
Enjoy hosting your next special event.