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Booksigning Checklist

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on July 11, 2012

Are you a new author facing your first booksigning event? Or maybe you’re a seasoned player and you haven’t done one in a while. Here’s a checklist of what to bring. Some authors scatter chocolate kisses or other candy on the table, but I’ve found this practice only attracts children to snatch the candy. It doesn’t entice anyone to buy a book, but it does make your display look snappy. Always offer passersby a bookmark or other item. If they’re too intimated to check out your books now, they might read your material and order them later.  

Autographed by Author Stickers (optional; not all readers want a sticker on their signed book)

Book Cover of Next Release


Books to Donate (optional; can be used for a library donation, for a door prize, or as a giveaway to audience members who ask questions)

Box of Books (for when you sell your own; otherwise keep in car trunk in case bookseller doesn’t come through)

Bottle of Water

Business Cards

Calculator (if you are selling your own books)

Camera (if you want pix of your event for your website, Facebook page, etc.)

Cash (if you are selling your own books)

Conference/Membership Brochures (to promote your local writing organizations)


Laptop or iPad (optional; to showcase your book video)

Mailing List Sign-up Sheet

Notice of Upcoming Appearances (in case they want to catch you at another event)

Poster (optional; ask your publisher for one or make your own)

Sharpie ultra fine point black ink permanent markers

Wheels (to carry boxes of books when you bring your own; look in luggage store for folding wheels)


34 Responses to “Booksigning Checklist”

  1. dianeokey said

    As always, wonderful and timely tips. You’re amazing :-), really. Wish I had 1/10 of your techno-savvy.
    Using your book trailer info, too, BTW. Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Diane! And I’ve learned most of what I know about the business aspects of writing from other authors. We all help each other.

  3. Maddy said

    If I ever get that far, that will be extremely helpful. Thank you.

  4. Betsy said

    I never thought to have state and local writers groups flyers on the table. That a terrific idea. Thanks for putting this list together. I’ll be doing my first book signing in the spring. Oh, happy me.

  5. Also check out my post from yesterday on Book Trailer: How-To if you want to make your own trailer in Windows Movie Maker:

  6. Good tips, Nancy. Now, here’s a question for you. After signing umpteen books over the years, how do you come up with new phrases to sign with each time? After awhile, the old “Happy Reading” or “Enjoy So-and-So’s Adventures” gets pretty darned stale, LOL.

    • I’ll either just sign my name or put “Enjoy” these days, unless I can think of a phrase that relates to the story. You’re right; it gets to be old hat trying to come up with these phrases.

  7. Great checklist! There are things here I hadn’t thought of. I don’t do trailers, but do have my newsletter signup sheet on the laptop. I can read what they type a lot more easily than what they scribble on a paper.

  8. You forgot the tranquilizers!

  9. Jacqueline Seewald said

    Your suggestions are so helpful! I’m bookmarking this for future reference. Thanks, Nancy.

    Jacqueline Seewald
    DEATH LEGACY–romantic mystery thriller

  10. I always forget my camera. It’s in my bag now. I’m doing my book launch for The Johnny Casino Casebook 1 – Past Imperfect this Saturday and I am so glad I read your blog today. Thanks. Gayle

  11. shalanna said

    This is great! I can tell you are a veteran of several successful signings, Nancy.

    I never really know where to sign and what to sign with. Some people use a Sharpie, but that seems so FINAL and unerasable. LOL. Do you sign on the page that has your title? Have you ever seen anyone use an art (pictorial) rubber stamp and sign next to that? I have thought that might be cool. It’s a rubber stamp cartoon of me that stamps in purple shades. Or is that just TOO GAUCHE?

    • I wouldn’t use a stamp. That might distract from the value of a signed copy. I sign on the page with the book title and my name, usually under my name. If the person wants the book personalized, I’ll add a “To Betsy” at the top. And yes, I use a permanent marker as indicated above. It is supposed to be unerasable.

  12. Jill James said

    Nancy, great tips. I have a book signing next summer and I’m printing this out.

  13. sirsteve said

    Thank you thank you. I’ll be doing this very soon and this will keep me organized.

  14. I find that even when I don’t sell many books, I always gain something from the event–networking just naturally happens when you’re dealing with readers and other writers (group signings). At a recent signing where I sold/signed only a few books, by talking with another author, I was able to wrangle a book review from the biggest newspaper in the area.

    • You’re right, Susan, it’s the networking that counts! I started doing cruise lectures for a while after a gig at a library. Didn’t sell many books but got great contacts. And when you’re with other authors, it’s a chance to exchange industry info.

  15. I pass out tons of bookmarks and even when I don’t sell that many books during the event, I always have a jump in e-book sales the next few days. I also bring chocolate stilettos (the weapon in my book) and that gets folks attention!

  16. Great list, Nancy. Since I also sell in nontraditional places (festivals, non-book retail locations), I also have various signs (“Books” and “Meet the Author” to hang in the vicinity. And I also offer to create a poster for the event for the location to put up ahead of time.

    • How have you done at Festivals? And do you take a booth by yourself or do you share the space with other authors? The only local festival I’d participated in had an “Author’s Row.” None of the attendees bought any books.

  17. The only thing I would add to this comprehensive list would be the optional door prize (and you covered that with “books to donate”). For instance, for a couple of my book signings for Restore My Heart (set in Louisville, Ky), I held a drawing for a basket of collectible Kentucky Derby souvenir mint julep glasses. Winners had to be present because I wasn’t about to try to ship those. 😉

    Good post, Nancy!

  18. Cheryl, a raffle basket is a good idea for a joint signing with other authors. Each guest could get a free raffle ticket with a book purchase, and every author could contribute to the basket. So it could work that way, too. Depends on the venue.

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