Being an Indie Author

Prepping for a book signing

Full disclosure. The pic is from a book signing I did at BEA in NYC when I wrote for Ellora’s Cave. The cover models worked for Ellora’s Cave and sadly, don’t magically appear at all book signings. Wouldn’t it be cool if they did!

I have a big book signing coming up in April. The Roanoke Author Invasion. It’s a huge author signing that attracts lots of readers. This is excellent, because it’s an opportunity to meet new potential readers that I otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to interact with. So it’ll be important for me to show up ready to draw readers to me with all my author ‘swag’.

Side Note: It’s so much better to draw readers to you with author swag than it is to stand in front of your table, trying to flag down people as they walk by. You know what I mean. Those authors who practically shout at every person who happens by their table, trying to strong arm them into looking at their books. As a reader, I’ve been on the receiving end of that and I didn’t like it. As an author, if I do a good job preparing for a signing, readers who read my genre will come over on their own and find out more about my books.

What’s included in author swag? There aren’t any rules for this. It’s entirely up to the author. I’ve seen authors bring pens, bookmarks, pins, calendars, swag bags (this is an expensive, but great idea. Readers at large events like this need bags to hold all their books and swag in).

Whenever I do a signing, I make sure I have:

  • postcards with all of my information
  • large posters of my books set on stands (so readers can easily see what I write as they walk by)
  • a massive basket of candy. And this isn’t cheapo candy. I make sure I have the good stuff. Snickers, Reese’s, KitKats, some hard candy. Because if my awesome book covers don’t draw them, my candy will!

One thing that I’ve seen authors do, that I think is really cool, is bring mini books of their new or upcoming releases.  The mini books are small, easy to carry versions of their book. No more than three chapters are included. This way, a potential reader can take it home, free of charge, and read at their leisure. If they like it, they’ll buy the whole book. And because a mini book is more valuable than something like a bookmark, readers are less likely to throw it away.

Side Note: Swag is always free. The goal is to have readers take home something with your information on it. The hope is that when they get home, they’ll visit your website and find something they like…and buy it. 

Something sad that I have a habit of doing is forgetting to order books before a signing. I’m typically ordering so late that I have to pay ridiculous shipping prices. For instance, today I was looking at my calendar, planning out my week, when something told me to check exactly when the Roanoke Author Invasion is happening. I was a bit startled to see that it’s on the 7th of April. That’s the first weekend in April. And I still have books to order. I also have to send the final version of Zoe Matthews, the Unwanted Ghost, and the Magicians, to my editor. And then get copies of the book sent to me. Ahhhh!!!!

But it’s okay. It always turns out fine.

Oh, and MY SIGNING MUST HAVE? My credit card swiper. All the preparation in the world won’t help me if I don’t have a way for readers to pay for my books!

Until next time, Happy Reading!


Heather Elizabeth King is a novelist who lives in Virginia and writes paranormal mysteries. She's been a story teller since she can remember. Some of her favorite memories are of telling stories to her girlfriends at slumber parties when she was a pre-teen. Heather is a recipient of numerous book review awards, including: *The Gold Star Award from Just Erotic Romance Reviews *A Recommended Read from Fallen Angel Reviews *The Joyfully Recommended Award from Joyfully Reviewed *A CAPA Award nomination from The Romance Studio.

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