If you want to improve your book signing event, Finn casts his vote for bringing treats like these black raspberries. Sure treats are a plus, but I say first attend author presentations, especially famous authors and look beyond the candy, cookies or wine and cheese to discover what inspires you.
Check for author readings at independent bookstores (and even some chain booksellers). It's good to observe a wide range of authors and book topics. Go early, take notes and consider what you liked best about the event. Is there a tip or idea you can borrow to make your upcoming event better?
What I like best about author readings is hearing the story behind the book. That's what I go for--an engaging author's story that tells me about the author's motivations a sort of hero's journey behind the book. This "story" is usually delivered in the first 10 to 15 minutes of a book reading or presentation. This is the time you can lose the audience, so make your story compelling.
Recently I saw best selling author Phillip Margolin who shared his journey as a writer and a lawyer. He spoke about how he had always wanted to be a writer and that he secretly sent his stories to magazine editors for years. He laughed about early "bad" stories he'd sent in, and I could practically feel his excitement when Margolin got his first book contract. He also shared conflicts with his legal firm when his books hit the best seller lists and he went on author tours for months at a time. (Is that a problem many authors dream about, or what?) Margolin never read from his book, Supreme Justice, but the crowd clearly loved his story and afterwards they bought books and peppered Margolin with questions.
Another engaging author is Molly Wizenberg. (Check out this interview with her at Culinate.) At the book signing I attended, she talked about how she had always been attracted to writing, her father's death, her wildly popular blog Orangette and finding an agent for her memoir, A Homemade Life. It didn't hurt that she also brought delicious treats from her husbands restaurant Delancy, but it was Wizenberg's story that moved the audience. So hone your story and make it as enticing as your elevator pitch for your book.
I'll be sharing farm anecdotes, recipes, farmers market tips and stories from my book on Saturday, July 10th, I'll be at Magnolia's Bookstore at 3206 W. McGraw at 11am. On Sunday July 11th from I'll be at Marlene's Market and Deli in Federal Way at 1pm. At Marlene's I'll be serving up some recipes from The Northwest Vegetarian Cookbook. (Check out my appearance schedule at Timber Press.)