Glen Klinkhart: What Name Should I Write – My Book Signing

Glen Klinkhart

Having your book published is a huge milestone for
any author. Getting my memoir published was a thrill of a lifetime but it was
tempered with the reality of having to go out and “sell” my work at
speaking engagements and book signings. At each of my signings I experienced
how much support the people of Alaska give to local authors, how appreciative people
are to speak with you, and how we have more things in common than we have
differences.  It was in that spirit I
wish to share some of the things I learned at my book signings.

Set your own schedule.
Work with your publisher but set your own schedule for signings and appearances.
Don’t have back to back book signings. Try and keep your appearances to less
than four hours at a time. Anything longer and my ability to stay open, happy,
and engaged with readers become problematic.

Stay in touch with the venue.
Whether you set up the signing or your publisher did, have a contact name and
phone number for someone who will actually be at the venue. I have missed flights,
forgotten posters, lost banners, run out of pens, and have had other missteps
before, during, and after a signing. Having a local person you can call on to
assist you in your hour of need is invaluable.

Bring someone with you.
Having another person with you gives you another set of hands and eyes. Having
help, even with the little things, allows you to concentrate on the most
important part of the event, the reader.

Plan ahead.
Get to know the bookstore, the owner, and the employees. At one major bookseller
I arrived well before the store opened. I brought fresh bagels with me as I was
allowed to sit in on their morning staff meeting. The employees in turn became
excited about my story and my book. Several of the salespeople later told me they
had never had an author come and meet them. Weeks later I heard from friends
that those same sales people were approaching them and personally recommending
my book.

Make sure who is responsible for providing
copies of your book.
Will the store have them there or are
you bringing books with you? A mistake, even one by someone else, makes you
look unprofessional and your readers are the ones who will suffer for it.

Bring a couple extra copies of your
book with you.
I always bring four or five copies of
my book to the venue, even at large book stores. There are several reasons for
You run out.
If things go well and books run out, a couple extra copies can help save the
day. At one venue they ran out of books so I gave my extra copies to a very
happy store owner who sold them to the last customers of the night.

Misspellings and Mistakes.
I worry so much about the probability of misspelling a reader’s name that I often
have problems sleeping the night before. To help alleviate my concerns, I bring
several books to replace any of a venue’s copies I might mess up.

Avoid misspelling someone’s name.
Always ask people to spell their name for you, even if you think you know how
to spell it. Do not be afraid to ask them to repeat it. Even when you try your
best mistakes can, and will, happen. During one book signing a father and his
16 year old daughter walked up to have me sign her book. After getting her
name, I asked how to properly spell it. Her father piped up and slowly gave me
the spelling. As I finished writing the girl turned to her father and said,
“Dad, that’s not how you spell my name.”

It’s not about you.
Remember you are there for the bookstore owners, the venue, and most of all,
the readers. Never forget Alaska is one small town, in one big state.

Give everyone some of your time.
Do your best to give every person who comes to the signing a few minutes of
your time. Let them tell you about their experiences, their story, and their
perspective. You can often use those experiences to write something meaningful to
them as you sign their book.

Encourage other writers.
You wrote a book. You got it published, and now you are signing your book for
readers. This, in and of itself, is something many people dream of doing and
you may be living someone’s dream. Share your journey. Encourage them. Help
inspire other writers.

Have fun.
This is the closest I will ever come to feeling like, and being treated like, a
rock star, so I try and enjoy every minute of it. That being said, being an
author does not give you the right to grow an enormously large ego, trash your
hotel room, and swim naked in the hotel swimming pool or what the police would later
describe as the “fish pond.” I may, or may not, know from actually
experience about these sorts of things. I’m just saying.
Glen Klinkhart was born
and raised in Anchorage, Alaska and was a police detective for over seventeen
years with the Anchorage Police Department. His writings include a non-fiction
book entitled, A CyberCop’s Guide to Internet Child Safety, and the True Crime
Alaskan Memoir, Finding Bethany. For more information, visit

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2 thoughts on “Glen Klinkhart: What Name Should I Write – My Book Signing”

  1. Excellent advice. Especially, about connecting with the staff in a meaningful way (as with bagels).

    Would love to hear more on setting up one's own signings. I was very impressed with writer, Jim Misko's 21 stop (roughly) tour in Iowa or thereabouts. How did he do that? How could I do that? I set up many events, as editor of CIRQUE, I set up the launches and I set up Poetry Parley monthly… I have arranged with great effort, readings in several cities – where I drew on other writers to be there, too. But signings, with books stores, how does one set up a group of them… ?

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