The Don’ts of Book Events

Me signing 2


Book events are one of the most terrifying and the most exciting parts of being an author. You’ve looked forward to these the whole time you waited for that book to release–the travel, reader fans, signing your little ol’ signature like you’re somebody. While some events may live up to your expectations, others may not. But ultimately, you want to make them as easy and as enjoyable as possible. Here are just a few little pointers of things to avoid:


Wear uncomfortable shoes. Not only are you standing at the podium (most likely), but you’ll circulate some to chat with people. By the time the one to two hour time slot is up, your feet will be killing you if you’re wearing four inch heels, or uncomfortable dress shoes. (Ok, I realize I’m sitting in this picture, but that’s only for the signing itself at a con. At a bookstore, you’re always standing.)


Read from your novel for more than five minutes. I don’t know about you, but when I go to these things, I’d prefer to hear about the author’s process, how the idea came to them, any research that went into it, or other little anecdotes about characters, etc. I’m in the camp of:  I can read for myself, thank you. But I don’t often get to see the author. Make good use of that time for your audience. You want to keep them coming back for your next books!


Assume you will have people there that you don’t know. If you do, that’s great. But don’t bet on it. Try to ensure you have at least one person coming to support you so you’re not sitting in an empty room. Most authors say this has happened at least once to them, but the best way to avoid it is to reach out ahead of time.


Forget to bring something to drink. Many bookstore hosts are very gracious and provide water bottles, but not all do. After a few minutes up there, between nerves and just all that talking, you’ll find your throat becoming dry and froggy.


Be shy. I realize these things make most of us nervous. I have one today, in fact, and my stomach is a little squiggly-wiggly, but now is not the time to be awkward and quiet. Engage your audience. Remember that at the end of the day, you’re selling your product. People are much more likely to invest in you if you’re friendly. You’ll sell a lot more books this way.


And whatever you do HAVE FUN! Most people only get to dream about what you’re doing, so enjoy it! Take pictures. Bring little treats to the event. Make it special for YOU, because that’s what all of this is about to begin with–a celebration of your wonderful book.

Author: Heather Webb

Heather Webb is the author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE, her debut historical (Plume/Penguin 2014). A freelance editor and blogger, she spends oodles of time helping writers hone their skills—something she adores. You may find her Twittering @msheatherwebb, hosting contests, or hanging around as a contributor to the Editor's Posts. She is also the Twitter mistress for the popular Writer Unboxed. She loves making new reader and writer friends. Stop on by her website, Between the Sheets!

12 Replies to “The Don’ts of Book Events”

  1. Ah, the benefits of having friends forging ahead. Thanks for lighting the way, Heather! Best of luck today. (When are you coming to the Mighty Mitten, or Chicago? I’d be there in a trice.)

    1. I’m going to try to get one going in Chicago for Rodin’s Lover, so sometime next year. 🙂 I’d LOVE for you to come! I just have to figure out which borough or suburb area to do it in. It’s such a massive place. Maybe Deb Lori can help me out there…

  2. I read for only a few minutes at my launch party, which was great. But I do still wonder about that — how long to read for. I agree that less is more though. It’s just an easy thing to hide behind when you’re like me: so not a public speaker. 🙂

    1. It’s funny…”hiding behind the book” actually made me way more nervous than just being myself and talking. I fret too much over which section to read, etc., and then I’m always afraid I sound like a drone. lol.

  3. I agree about not reading too much, but I’d also add that it’s important to know whether you’re a good reader or not. I was listening to a podcast recently with two writers, and it was striking how much better one was than the other one at reading.

    If you have that skill (which obviously has nothing to do with how good a writer you are), then you might want to utilize it more than if you don’t.

    1. That’s a really good point, Anthony. I’m not sure most people know whether or not they’re any good, which is unfortunate. Tonight I ended up not reading at all, but talking about the writing and research process and answering questions. No one seemed interested in having me read so that was that. 🙂

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