Presentations, Book Signings, Book Clubs

Hi, SE readers! It’s Mae Day on Story Empire, and I’m delighted you dropped in for a visit. Whether you’ve written a book/books or are in the process of writing one,there will likely be a point when you want to take part in a presentation, book signing, or book club. Let’s take a quick look at all three.

Two black portfolios with business card slots in the front. Business cards for author Mae Clair in slotsSomeone has invited you to speak about your book or a topic related to your book. Presentations require the most preparation, because—let’s face it—it’s all about you speaking to an audience. Your presentation might be short (ten to fifteen minutes) or much longer, depending on your material.

Did you know many local organizations often search for guest speakers? Your topic doesn’t necessarily have to tie into the basis of the organization. As an example, I’ve given presentations on the Mothman to both a historical society and a women’s group. Check around your area and see what kind of connections you can make. This is also a great way to get your name circulated in your community.

Book Signings
Banner Ad for book signing for author Mae Clair shows three books over an autumn backgroundThese can be large or small. I’ve done signings with as many as 30+ authors and others where I was one of two or three. In the past, I’ve given tips on setting up your table and ideas for swag. Today, I want to address something that might not be obvious—when doing a small signing, it’s entirely possible there won’t be a lot of foot traffic. Prepare for that!

Engage anyone who approaches your table but realize there are going to be dry spells.

My tale of woe . . .
I once shared a table with an author who did not like chatting. We were the only two authors at the event, and she preferred to knit while reading on her cell phone. She had clear boundaries of “don’t talk to me.” Seriously, what author doesn’t like to discuss writing?

I sold a few books that day, but the hours draaaggeed. I ended up scribbling notes on a future project. Next time, I will go better prepared and have something to distract me. Lesson learned.

Book Clubs
cartoon illustration of a group of people with open books sitting in a circle and talkingI’ve been highly fortunate that several local book clubs have selected my work to read. Not that long ago, I was invited to a group that read Eclipse Lake. I’m used to talking about my books—where my ideas came from, how I developed the setting, what research went into them, etc.—but this was the first time I had readers asking what they wanted to know. It was an awesome experience, and so much fun!

If you get a chance to engage in any of these events, I highly recommend taking the opportunity. The book club situation was new for me, and one I’d love to do again. I realize that many of you have done signings and presentations multiple times, but if you’re new to the game and have the opportunity, go for it!

Do you have a book signing experience you’d like to share? If you haven’t done a signing or something similar, what are your thoughts about giving it a try? Do you have suggestions for finding local organizations that might be interested in speakers? How about tips on  when you’re paired  with an author who’s a bad match? Trust me, it happens.

Chime in and share—ready, set, go!

Bio box for author, Mae Clair


56 thoughts on “Presentations, Book Signings, Book Clubs

  1. Thank you for touching on this subject, Mae! I’ve done a fair amount of book signings at either book stores, music festivals, or book festivals, and one thing that is apparent to me is authors (like the one you described) most often don’t sell any books. They might as well be wearing a sign that reads, “Do Not Disturb.” 🙂 I’ve been taught to stand behind my table or to the side of it and smile at everyone whether they approach or not. At least I’m open to chatting with them and let them know. The most fun signing I’ve ever done is at a book club meeting. They serve wine. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooo, what a great book club meeting with the wine. I would call that a winner, LOL 😉

      I know that writers are mostly introverts, but we have to flip the “on” button at book signings. At the same time, I try not to be too aggressive because I want readers to be able to “browse” my books without me yammering about the story. It’s a fine line we have to tread. But behind the scenes, when it’s just “us” I see no reason why one writer wouldn’t want to chat with another. As for the public, I’m still trying to find that magic formula, but I do know it isn’t about being invisible. Thanks for commenting and sharing, Jan!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very possible the other writer could have been bad at it, too. I got the impression she was a bit awkward, but seriously? I expected I’d at least get some writing discussion going. I have another signing coming up in April and I am going prepared this time, LOL. I will be taking my Kindle and a notebook, just in case 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Joan, I highly recommend you do both. You’ll love them! And it’s such a great way to get your name out in the local community. I have a feeling once you do one, you’ll be hooked and looking for more. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My first author presentation/book signing was October 2019. I was frightened, but a friend suggested using humor–worked wonderfully. From that first event I’ve scheduled four more (two poetry classes for homeschool groups + two more library/community presentations. I felt like I was floating on Cloud Nine as I drove home the night of the October event. Suggestions: Prepare a presentation (I used PowerPoint) for visuals–the audience will be staring at that while you’re smiling and interacting with them. Get there early to prep and practice, greeting everyone as they arrive. Bring a friend who can manage your display and take care of handouts, selling books, getting attendees to sign up for your newsletter. Have fun meeting and interacting with the guests before, during and after the event! I promise, you’ll never be nervous again… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bette, it’s so cool hearing all of this. It definitely takes an effort to put yourself out there the first time (at least it did for me). And it’s such a rush afterward when it all falls into place. I agree that you definitely need visuals (i.e, Powerpoint or something similar). Excellent point about bringing a friend along to help with sales. I had DH helping a few times, plus he always helps me with set up and tear down (just disappears int he middle, LOL). I have had a lot of fun interacting with guests at various events. It’s also a great way to get your name out there for networking. I’ve had guests at one event, suggest me to other organizations, which resulted in new presentations. I do, however, still get nervous before every event 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • My big fear was speaking to an adult audience. Marcia Meara gave me pointers on using humor (classroom stuff) and the listeners loved it. Marcia’s blog posts about her events are what inspired me to get myself out there… She’s a dear! ❤ xo

        Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I love the way you phrased that, Denise.

      As an introvert it is hard for me,especially the presentations, despite those being the ones I like to do the most.
      I definitely have to push my “on” button and then take a day or two to recover.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand about having to recover, but I also know I have that on button, too! I keep this in mind for the future, which is just another the introvert wins:)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Craig, you don’t have to have print books available for signing if you can put together an interesting talk on writing, say, or fantasy. Or any other subject that people might enjoy. You can still start with an introductory slide that shows the eBooks you have available, then move into your day’s subject. The large majority of my talks are about central Florida wildlife, and not my writing. But I always have a slide introducing myself, with my books pictured on it. It’s the one on the screen when folks arrive, and I take a minute to introduce myself and point out my books. Then I bring up the opening slide for alligators, or whatever I’m talking about that day. And you can still have a table where you hand out brochures, bookmarks, post cards with your book covers on them, and any other swag you want to hand folks. Some of them will almost always go check out your work online.

      You might consider giving it a try once or twice and see what happens. Just a thought. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • Great ideas, Marcia! I think swag can sell books every bit as much as having physical books there. Whenever I do a presentation, I make sure everyone in the group gets a “swag bag” that includes bookmarks, postcards for each of my books, business cards, and usually some goodie—chocolate bar, etc.

        I do use up a lot of swag that way, but I think it works!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Craig, I choose a topic to talk about and then make postcards that have my books and info on them. I design the postcards on and have a printer make them. That’s worked well with me. You’ve done enough posts for story empire to choose from a lot of different topics to talk about. I belong to a writers’ group, and we occasionally do writing panels together. That’s even better. And we finish with a question and answer period.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Postcards are a great resource for selling books. Which reminds me that I need to order more, LOL.
        Judi, it’s awesome you and your group do writing panels. That’s something I’ve yet to participate in, but would love to do.
        I once had a Q&A session with a very small group, and absolutely loved it!


    • Marcia had some great ideas below.
      When I was a guest of the book club, I didn’t bring books with me, but I ended up getting asked so many questions, it led to discussion of my other books. A number of the people in the group were really intrigued by my Point Pleasant series. I gave them handouts (Vista Print) on all of my books. The next day, sales of those books increased, so although i didn’t have print copies with me, I still made sales.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Exactly, Mae. It’s just one more version of word of mouth, and that sells eBooks as well as print ones. I normally have my bookmarks etc out on my signing table for folks to browse through, but I like your idea of handing out bags of swag for everyone. That way, even those who have to slip out early have something to take with them. I think I may start doing that. I have little tin tea samples with my book logos on them that would be perfect to include. And YAY for VistaPrint! I do a ton of stuff on there, including all my post cards, my brochures, and my business cards. Good stuff! And they ship pretty darn fast, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I used to put everything out on my table for people to take, but found that visitors would something be choose, taking only a few or none at all) What I learned is that if you HAND someone a “goodie bag” with all your swag items in them, they won’t refuse. And even if they aren’t interested, they may still browse through and think of someone who is. So, yes, I do go through a lot of swag that way, but it’s also a way of ensuring I get my book promos in the hands of visitors. I think it works pretty well 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As you know, Mae, I simply LOVE doing presentations, book chats, book clubs, and anything else that lets me get out and meet readers, and build a local readership. I’ve had incredibly good luck (and many good times) at this, but there was one group that you couldn’t pay me to visit again. It was a long drive over to meet with their writer’s group, to begin with, and I don’t like driving these days, especially on interstates. But, I hoped it would be worth it However, I wasn’t greeted by a single soul. Just told to have a seat while they took care of their business meeting. Then, I was told it was my turn. No introduction, no nothing. Um, okay. I had prepared a presentation, vastly shortened to fit the time frame they had requested, but halfway through it, the lady who owned the projector got up, announced she had to leave, and shut it down. OMG. And all but two people filed out behind her without a single word to me. No “Thanks for coming to see us.” No “Your books look interesting.” Nothing. Nada. Crickets. But the president of the club did walk up after the room emptied and hand me a check for $50. It almost paid for my gas to get there. Hahahaha.

    Now I don’t charge for my presentations, but in this case, I couldn’t cash that check fast enough. 😀 I expected more camaraderie from fellow writers, I guess, but these ladies were blinking awful.

    On the plus side, I’ve done 20 or so of these things a year for several years, and that is the ONLY time it wasn’t a fun group, often accompanied by book sales afterward. I highly recommend doing various kinds of local events. You’ll soon discover which types you enjoy most and which are good for sales versus those good for building name recognition. And with any luck, you’ll never run into a group of writers like the one I just described! ❤

    Great post, Mae! Sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      • That’s exactly true, but as I say, this was ONCE in probably 150 events. So, not bad overall. Plus, since my two public venues have me back several times throughout the year, I’m not going into an unknown with them. They are both lovely venues who treat their speakers wonderfully well. (DeBary Hall and the Enterprise Museum)). And I truly enjoy working with them. If you can find a venue like one of these and can visit several times a year, it might be all you need, and you don’t have to have cold feet wondering what’s awaiting you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ugh! Marcia, that’s freaking ridiculous! And it was a writing group that behaved this way? They obviously didn’t know how to treat guests…or even how to extend common courtesy. Definitely, a nightmare tale!

      I love doing presentations. I have the most fun with them (as opposed to signings). I just have to find more to do, and start seeking out organizations. I also want to approach a few of my local libraries.

      Thanks for sharing your tale of woe. I’m glad that was the only bad experience you had in all of the presentations you’ve done!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was the lack of basic common courtesy that really rankled. I wouldn’t treat ANY visitor like that, much less one I had personally contacted out of the blue with an invitation to visit. I honestly think part of it was that most of them were traditionally published (years ago!) and had no real use for an indie like myself. (Even though the presentation they requested was on using the central Florida habitat as a background for Swamp Ghosts, and not about self-publishing at all.)

        But as I told Craig, I’ve done at least 150 of these over the last 5-6 years, and this is the one and ONLY time I was treated so rudely. So, I say, a pox on people who behave so poorly! 😀 And hooray for those who know how to be courteous, respectful, and polite! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. That would have been one long day, sharing space with someone who didn’t even want to discuss books. I love going to book signings and festivals and talking with readers. As a YA author, I especially get excited when I see the younger crowd reading. Excellent advice, Mae!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, it was a long day, Teri, LOL.
      I have better luck when I’m a guest speaker as opposed to signings, but I keep doing the signings. They’re few and far between in my area, so I like to take advantage of them when they’re available. I love interacting with the other authors, and it is wonderful to see so many readers interested in books!

      Liked by 1 person

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