Just got published? That definitely deserves some big celebrations, and there’s no better way to celebrate than having a book signing event. There’s a lot to prepare for if you’re going to hold a book signing event. For your first book launch event, your local library could be the perfect venue!
In this guide, I’ll teach you how to land your first local library book signing event and give you some tips on preparing for success.
I’m also going to let you in on a little secret. Libraries love supporting their local authors. There’s a good chance that your nearby library is already ready and waiting to become your fan.
Setting Up Your Local Library Book Signing Event
Now that the world is opening back up, live events are becoming a thing again. They’ve always been a fantastic opportunity to bring your fans together while gathering some new ones to celebrate your book.
Organizing a book event can seem daunting at first, but the process is easier than you think.
As always, I’ve got you covered. I’ve broken the process down into six steps. Let’s get right into it.
Step #1: Research Your Local Libraries
First thing’s first, you’ve got to know your library. Identify what they like to have for programs and study their past themes. Figure out if you and your book can have a good tie-in based on those past programs and themes.
Most libraries have an event and activity calendar right on their website. Check that calendar out and see if there’s anything listed that can relate to your book, genre, or expertise.
You may not know this, but many libraries host weekly or monthly book clubs around specific topics. Now, you want to find out if these topics might be a perfect fit for your book.
Libraries also hold events to coincide with holidays, awareness months, or other celebrations.
Some libraries have things like creative writing workshops in November for NaNoWriMo. Some have a panel discussion in January for Martin Luther King Day.
Chances are, your local library always has some other something to celebrate in awareness or special months, so check those out.
Step #2: Come Up with A Book Signing Event Idea and a Plan
So, what kind of book signing event are you going to host? Authors often go for typical readings and book signings, but it doesn’t have to be just that.
You can also choose to organize events like festivals, book launch parties, book clubs, and meet and greets. I mean, there are just so many options.
I’ve offered short library workshops in the past, teaching a small part of my book to the audience. It was free, but it was a great way to build my list, connect with my local community, and get the library to buy some books. When organizing one of these events, keep in mind your goals and resources and the capacity and interest of the local library.
So apart from your typical book signing events, here are some other brilliant ideas that you can try:
Author Readings and Interviews
You probably already know about the tried and true author reading – share a bit of your book, and answer questions from the audience afterward.
You could also host an author interview if you’d rather interact with your audience a bit more. Hosting an interview can work incredibly well if your live event unexpectedly turns virtual or hybrid. You can take questions from both your live audience and your virtual audience who couldn’t attend in person.
You can also ask your audience to send questions in advance so you can prepare accordingly and make sure that you’re covering stuff that they really want to hear.
Participate in a Book Club
You can also participate in a book club which serves as an excellent opportunity to deepen your connection with your readers. You’ll also have a pretty successful book signing event if the readers are excited to meet you!
Of course, everybody who attends has to have read your book, so it’s potentially going to lead to some tremendous in-depth discussion and rapport building.
Afterward, make sure to sign books and encourage readers to sign up for your email newsletter so you can stay in touch.
Conduct a Workshop or Interactive Activity
Now, depending on your book, a workshop or some sort of interactive activity can provide a great hands-on experience for your audience.
If you cover something interactive in your book, like a checklist or a step process, or if you have spots where they can fill in and answer questions or do activities, that could be an excellent opportunity for you to create a little session all around that feature.
You can also use Kahoot! to make interactive quizzes or games for your audience. You can use Canva to design printables or do some worksheets. If you have a workbook, doing a workshop could be an excellent opportunity to sell that workbook.
Collaborate for an Author Panel
If you’re lucky enough to know authors in your genre or in a similar angle to something you do, maybe you can collaborate to create an author panel.
Participating in a panel also has the added benefit of promoting to the other author’s audience and expanding your readership.
You’re also going to have a larger attendance at your event as well.
Throw a Book Party!
Now, if you’re looking to have some fun, you could potentially host a party. But you probably have to host it quietly, of course, because this is still a library. Still, you can host a party for many things.
Your party doesn’t necessarily have to be about your book launch. It could be to celebrate a book award or some sort of event that’s happened in the community.
You can opt for just about anything that would interest the library and excite its membership.
Libraries are always game for local authors winning book awards. In fact, they’d be willing to host the award-winning author a celebration.
Once you’ve decided on your event, it’s time to put together a plan. You don’t have to map out every little detail, but it helps to have a general outline and a summary of the event.
You should also know the costs, the supplies you need, the expected length and itinerary, the number of people you expect to attend, and your marketing plans. We’ll get into more detail on these later.
Step #3: Pitch Your Book Signing Event to Your Local Library
You’ve got to get the library to say yes. So, visit the library’s website and find which librarian to contact.
For nonfiction books, your best bet is probably the adult services or programming librarian. There’s often a youth services librarian that specifically handles children’s and young adult books.
When in doubt, just reach out to the library. You can always reach out to the reference librarian in particular.
To begin with, I’d send an email introducing yourself, sharing a bit about your book, and then putting one or two sentences together on what you’re planning. If the librarian decides it’s a good fit, you can sort out the details after that, probably by phone or walking in and introducing yourself.
Step #4: Prepare and Promote
Did you get the green light? Okay! That means it’s time to get ready, get prepped, and promote.
Spreading the word is vital to your event’s success. Libraries, primarily, will put up a poster. They might also have a newsletter where they can put up your event. But, really, you need to hop onto your social media and start promoting.
Post regular reminders at least a month in advance. If you have an email newsletter list, use it. Reach out and let everyone know about upcoming festivities.
You can even potentially get posters printed and put them up at your local coffee shop, gym, or any place you frequent. Those things could be great because this is a local event celebrating a local author.
See if the library allows food or drinks to let your guests enjoy treats while you treat them to your reading, talk, or workshop.
Send out reminders the day before, and make sure you’ve posted again everywhere on your social media.
Lastly, remember to bring copies of your book to sign and sell. If you’re ordering them, make sure you’ve ordered them at least a month in advance so you’ve got them on the event day.
Step #5: Execute
The day has come! Get there early and set up as needed. Your attendees will need certain materials, like pens or paper; make sure they’re available and that there’s plenty for everyone.
Since your event probably won’t be gigantic, greet everyone as they arrive. And don’t forget to introduce yourself before the event kicks into gear.
Some attendees might know you, but others might not. Remember, you’re not just there to promote your book; this is a perfect opportunity to create connections that have the potential to do more than sell some books.
Ideally, you might want to have a friend at the book table to help you sell books and hand out materials that you might have for this event.
After the event wraps up, let them know that you’re signing books and give attendees the chance to approach you directly with questions or comments.
Step #6: Thank the Local Library
There’s a good chance that the library probably won’t charge you for their event space. And they almost always buy a copy of your book to add to their bookshelves.
Your library deserves all the love, so make sure they get it. Thank the librarian in person right after your event and let them know that you’d be interested in more events in the future.
And, of course, post pictures and a happy note on their social media with your gratitude for their hospitality.
Preparing for Your Local Library Event
Making sure you have people show up to your book event is one thing, but what about what you do to prepare for the actual event itself?
What do you need to have on hand? More importantly, how exactly would you look like a pro for your first and future book signings?
Now that your first local library event is on the horizon, it’s time to walk you through the things you need to put in place to ensure that your event becomes successful and professional-looking.
If you’re still reading and are wondering what you need and where to buy them, stick around. We’ll talk about the finer details.
Consider the Scope of Your Library Book Event
Now, you only need to invest in all of the materials I’ll mention if you’re planning on doing more than one event or if you’re doing a relatively large one.
Suppose you’re just doing a one-off signing event to launch your book, and you don’t feel like you’re going to do another. In that case, it’s probably not worth investing in a bunch of things just because of that single event.
After all, you’re probably lucky to sell 20 books. Investing in a bunch of materials won’t change the number of books you sell. However, It does going to make you look fancy and professional. So, I’m leaving that up to you.
On the other hand, if you’re going to be speaking at events and getting a table at the back of the room or on an event floor, and you think you’re going to do a few more throughout the next year or two, absolutely invest a few hundred dollars in looking like a pro.
By the way, this is a fantastic way to build your author platform and sell books. So, grab a pen; I’ll wait for a second because here’s what you’re going to need.
Don’t Be Without These Essentials
1. Two Black Sharpies
Firstly, you’ll need to get yourself two black Sharpies for signing those books. Fine point or whatever you prefer. You can use whatever kind of pen you want, but a Sharpie is just official.
2. Your Sign-Up Sheet
Secondly, get a sign-up sheet for your newsletter. Do this old school. Put up a sign and offer your reader magnet. Then, have a sheet of paper with a spot for their name and an email address.
You also want them to know that they’ll get your newsletter when they sign up.
I’ve tried QR codes, texting systems, and so many ways for people to connect with me and get on my newsletter list. Nothing works as well as just getting them to pull out the pen and write it down.
QR codes, in fact, gave me the worst results.
Back to the old school pen, paper, a little sign, and a plastic display stand. You can see an example of everything you need in this picture right here.
That’s all you need, and people will put their name and email address on there to download your freebie and get on your newsletter.
Okay, so back to the list!
3. An 8×11 Sign Promoting Your Reader Magnet
You’ll also need an 8×11 sign to promote your reader magnet. Get a plastic display case where you can put your 8×11 sign, so it’ll stand there looking nice.
4. Pens. Lots of Them.
You’re going to want to have that sign-up sheet have a piece of paper that says: name, email, and what they’re signing up for. You want pens for people to use to sign up. Make sure to bring lots because some people unintentionally take them.
5. Book Display Shelf
Now, you don’t have to have this, but I recommend getting a display shelf or some way to stand the books up so the cover is facing out. Your display shelf can be a cheap magazine stand or some other fancier book stand.
I like the clear plastic ones you see in the picture above because they allow the entire front cover to be visible while still allowing you to stack multiple books, which brings me to the next thing you need.
6. Your Books!
Depending on the event, you should have at least 20 books on hand or at least a QR code that takes them to the universal link to buy the eBook. Ideally, you’d also want to have a QR code for purchasing the audio version.
7. Presenter Kit
It’s also a great idea to have your media kit, a speaker one sheet, or a sales sheet for your book.
Have those on hand because if somebody comes by and wants to know if you give talks, if you’re willing to do a podcast interview, or if you’d like to have your book listed in the local library, having these materials on hand can lead to some pretty incredible opportunities.
It also makes you look that much more professional.
If you don’t have any of those things, well, obviously, you’re not working with Book Launchers because we create all of those for you. We can fix that though – apply to work with us here.
Make sure to always have a business card with your contact information, which has the title of your book and a few other details like your website.
Now, the following few items are what I would call bonus material.
Bonus Item #1: Table Cover
Get a table cover. I would go with black because I can’t tell you how many coffee stains are on our white one. And constantly, strategically placing books to hide the coffee stains because people come up to the table, put their coffee down when they come to talk to you, leave, and leave a mark that doesn’t come out.
If my next one is white, I will hand out #noboringbooks coasters for swag to get people to put their drinks down on the coaster.
You don’t have to get a branded table cover. But, when you do events at libraries and bookstores, they often give you an ugly fold-up table.
So, having something to cover that up makes it look that much nicer. You can buy these at Michaels or get them from a local craft store or an event store for a pretty low price. You can also order a branded one from Vistaprint or many other places that do banners.
If you do a branded one, make sure it has your website on it.
Bonus Item #2: Vertical Banner
The next thing that is nice to have is a stand-up vertical banner. You don’t need a big banner, as you see in my Book Launchers booth picture. A vertical banner, or even a small table banner, will be enough.
There are many places to get banners, and most are under $100.
You’ll likely need to bring a design to the table, though. So, I would recommend deciding where you’re going to buy from, getting their specs for what you need to upload, and then going to Upwork, Fiverr, or Guru and hiring a graphic designer to create the banner for you.
Absolutely include your book cover in your design. If you’ve won any awards, include those. If you have a great blurb or an endorsement from somebody, put that on there. And, of course, the formats and where people can buy your book.
After putting in all those crucial info, go ahead and place the order from the designer.
Now, make sure you’re doing all this at least 60 days before your event to give yourself lots of time for shipping or fixing any issues that may happen.
I use BoothPop! for all my banner needs. BoothPop! is a little pricier than Vistaprint. But ultimately, Vistaprint might be the best place if you’re watching them because they do a 50% off sale twice a year. So, if you hang on, you can get all your book promotion items on sale.
Now, there are other banner places that other authors recommend, like 48HourPrint. You might find a local print shop location that can help you. Fastsigns also has a lot of locations around the US. I know in Las Vegas that there are a lot of businesses that recommend them.
Bonus Item #3: Swag Giveaways
Finally, you can have swag to give away if you want to. You can have those things like postcards, pens, and bookmarks. You can even give away fancier things like journals, water bottles, or T-shirts.
It’s not necessary, but if you have a business behind your book, it can be good exposure.
Now, speaking of swag, do you want to know how you can win some of our fabulous #noboringbooks swag? Well, it’s really simple. Get on our newsletter to join one of our monthly deep-dive training sessions (or just register for the next one right here).
All you have to do is go to this link and download a guide on marketing your book, which lands you on our newsletter list.
You can also comment on the day a video is released on our YouTube Channel, and you’ll be entered to win. Super easy.
One final thing I like to bring to my book signings whenever I can is a friend. It’s so great to have someone there to support you, bring you a drink if you’re busy, man your table when you have to pee, and keep you company if it’s quiet.
Now, you might be wondering how to get your book into the local library. This is a great resource for that:
You don’t have to go through this alone, you know. It’s always better to have a plethora of experts at your side guiding you in organizing your events and all throughout your author journey.
Here at Book Launchers, we help entrepreneurs, professionals, and people with powerful stories to write, publish, and sell non-fiction books that grow businesses, boost brands, and make money.