I went to a booksigning with a friend last night (at a bookstore I won't name) and walked away with some clear guidelines as to how not to host a booksigning:
- Don't provide refreshments. It's hot and crowded and if there's one thing people may want (like a bottle of water), you should definitely make sure they don't get it. It's not like your customer can go find a 7-11, since she showed up early to claim a seat and there are hipsters hovering in the doorway waiting to swoop in on it as soon as she stands up.
- Walk around and remind everyone that they must buy a book from the store in order to get something signed by the author... regardless of whether or not you have the author's book in stock. Which you don't. Which brings me to...
- Don't order enough books. Over three hundred people RSVP'ed for the event on Facebook, and over a hundred people showed up for the event. How were you supposed to know you needed more than 25 copies?
- Talk a lot before you introduce the writer. This is the perfect opportunity to hear the sound of your own voice falling on two hundred ears that don't care.
- Emphasize that your email distribution list is free and act like it's a service for the community rather than shameless self-promotion.
- Make sure you mention you hadn't heard of the writer until he started his tour.
- Wander around and make noise while the author is talking. Turn the building lights on and off repeatedly and look concerned, distracting both the audience and the speaker.
- Ask your customers to put their chairs away before they leave. It's not like you want to pick up your own store.