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Nicholas King

Tips and tricks of book signings from Michael Wills

Published: 10 Apr 2013   updated: 23 Jul 2013

SilverWood author Michael Wills recently hosted a book signing launch for his second historical fiction novel, Three Kings - One Throne. After successfully selling 45 books with proceeds going to charity, we asked Mike for some of his top tips on hosting a book signing.

Mike says:

First I should explain the arrangements for my signing. I chose to have the launch of my novel, Three Kings - One Throne, at a hotel. I did this for two reasons. Firstly, my experience at the Waterstones launch of my first novel, Finn’s Fate, was that a lot of friends and acquaintances turned up. This was great, but a bit embarrassing as I had no time to talk to them. They were in a busy shop environment where they could not easily chat with each other either. For my recent launch I wanted a place where I could offer a cup of coffee and the chance for people to socialise. This had an added bonus because complete strangers hear you and your book being talked about positively (hopefully!) by well meaning people.

Secondly, I wanted the chance to donate some of my takings to my charity, Riding for the Disabled. I was not sure that this would be possible in a book shop where the money is going through the till.

The downside is that it costs money. I paid £98 to hire the room. The hotel was going to charge £25 per thermos of 25 cups of coffee, including biscuits. However, the owner was persuaded that this was partly a charity event and free coffee was provided. I promised that his hotel would feature in a future novel!

Money

Two things to remember apart from the obvious one that you should keep it close to you and under observation. Firstly, take plenty of change. My book costs £9.99, so I needed a pile of pennies and a good few ten pound notes.

Secondly, it gets quite stressful when people are queuing and you have to think about signing, being pleasant and chatty and giving the right change. I am sure my bald patch increased in size during the morning. Get someone to help as cashier.

Being sociable

This is very important, but sometimes quite difficult, especially when you get a history buff or two trying to discuss the finer points of your novel while several potential buyers are kept waiting. It is useful to have cards with your website address and contact details so that you can say, "Look, I am very busy at the moment, but why don’t you have a look at my website and then drop me a mail so that we can continue our conversation".

Names

Under stress it is easy to misspell an unusual given name. Often too, people have weird spellings for common names. Each mistake costs you a book. So, if you have any doubt ask the customer to spell the name and write it on a block for them to see, before putting it into your precious work of literature.

Artefacts

Despite what I said about being very busy, at times you do have time to chat. It is very nice to have some artefacts relating to your story to use as conversational springboards. I brought a Sami drum which was relevant to my first novel, and took a few moments to demonstrate how it was played.

Drumming up business

And if things get really quiet, you can usually catch a punter by making a prat of yourself. I took a moment to model a Sami hat.


Want to know more?

Visit Mike's website and read more about his work.

Find out more about Mike's new book Three Kings - One Throne.