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  • Writer's pictureNed Patton

How does a Book Signing Work – My Personal Experience


I have to say this has been a crazy week for me, which is why I am as tardy with this post as I am. But some very fun things did come of my crazy week. One of the highlights of the week was that I did my first book signing at work this week. I had it all arranged, and I learned a lot about how one of these things work. So, I thought I would write a post about that experience, including all of the preparations, anticipation, fretting over how well it might or might not go, and all of that.

First, however, I want to thank three people who without their help and incredible talents the book signing would never have happened. First is our daughter who is the graphic artist and designer that did the cover for the book, and came up with some incredible posters for book signings. One of these is to the right here so that you can see how good these really look. And, of course I’m going to sprinkle the others throughout this post because I think they’re worth sharing with a wider audience.

The second person I need to thank is our on-site coordinator, facilitator, and all around can get anything at all done at the site and knows where everything is and who can do anything. I have referred to her as our onsite Corporal Klinger, although I’m sure she probably doesn’t appreciate that reference. I’m leaving names out of this for privacy purposes, but anyone that has been to or worked at Northrop in Sunnyvale knows who I’m talking about here. She is the one that took the images you’re going to see here that were the size of a standard piece of letter paper and turned them into posters on poster board. And yes, those are my hands holding them up.

Finally, and last but certainly not least, I want to thank my wonderful wife that sat with me for a little over 2 hours and greeted everyone that came to the book signing with her wonderful happy smile and effervescent personality. She added a sparkle to the event that could not have been there if I had done this all alone. I am far more of the fairly reserved (nerdy?) type with people, and tend to go intellectual first rather than just greeting people and making them feel welcome. I’m sort of OK at this stuff, but my wife is a master and exudes an excited sparkle that really brings a room alive.

Now for the chronology of events, or what went right, how did we plan it, what went not quite so right, and what was it like overall. I do have to say that it was with both excitement and a certain amount of trepidation that I went into this thing. The fortunate thing is that we had planned it well ahead of time, and had thought through all of the things that could go wrong. I have been doing things like this for quite a while, and so has my wife, so we both know that if you don’t plan it and plan it well, it’s not going to come off well.

I started thinking about book signings and researching how to pull one off even before my book got published. I went to a number of author websites and others that told stories about book signings and how they work. That was a wonderful resource – the internet is such a wonderful research tool for things like this. I mostly delved into sites that were descriptive versus YouTube sites, because I like seeing the written word, and I could go back and re-read certain things if they didn’t completely make sense to me.

One site in particular that was helpful had a good list of what needed to be taken to the book signing. The first thing that the list had was some means of taking payment for the book. So, I bought a Square chip reader and got that all set up before the book signing, including testing it to make sure it worked. And I had to briefly train my wife to use it because she was the one that was going to be taking people’s money and getting them to write down their name and address. And, of course, other things included a notebook to write down people’s names and email addressed, several pens all the same that would not run or smear, and things like paperclips, bookmarks to put in every book, etc. And, of course, books. I bought 50 from my publisher to sell myself because I get a really good discount when I buy in bulk like that. So, I brought the entire box of books with me.

The other thing I saw in some of the internet posts about book signings was a tall banner that would stand on the ground and be about 6’ high. So, again, I enlisted our very talented daughter to create the banner for me and what you see to the right is the result. This thing comes in its own carry case, and the part that the banner rolls up from sits on the floor. There are two feet that you rotate out of their position to keep it stable and standing up, and a bar that snaps together that goes from the floor to the top of the banner and holds it up.

By the time the book signing came around, we had this event well planned, and I had everything I needed besides customers to buy the book. So, how did that go. And, what was it like signing a book that you had written. It was interesting to say the least. We asked the people that bought the book what they were interested in that brought them to the book signing. And mostly we of course got answers from the young engineers that bought the book that they were interested in composites and wanted to know more about them. So, the demographic that bought the book was exactly the target that I had hoped for. I just wish that more people had shown up, but since this was my first book signing, and we didn’t (actually couldn’t for several reasons) get much advertising of the event done, not that many people showed up. And, of course it was at work which is a somewhat secure facility – badge required – so this thing could not have been advertised to the general public. But, I did sell 5 books that day, we had a lot of fun doing it, and both myself and my wife learned a lot about doing these. So, I’m now confident that once I get a library or bookstore to hold a book signing, we will be completely prepared. And, since we will be able to advertise the next one or two much more widely and publicly, we will probably do better the next time.

That’s about enough for this week. I am going to be reminding everyone right here each week that I will be presenting two papers toward the end of this year. Both of them are about sustainability of composites – a subject that all of you that have read my posts know is a passion of mine. The first one is a paper about sustainability efforts for composites in general, with a focus on what to do with wind turbine blades. That one is going to be at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exhibition in New Orleans October 29 to November 2 (https://event.asme.org/IMECE). The second one will be at the Carbon Fiber Conference in Salt Lake City being put on by Composites World (https://www.carbonfiberevent.com/). In that presentation I will focus on current work in sustainability of carbon fiber in particular. I’m of course going to talk about new fibers and fiber precursors made from plants, so again, focusing on closing the circle.

And, finally, for those of you that have not heard, my book has been published and is for sale. The best place to get one is to go to my website and buy one. I will send you a signed copy for the same price you would get charged on Amazon, except that I charge $8 shipping. Anyway, here’s the link to get your signed copy: https://www.nedpatton.com/product-page/the-string-and-glue-of-our-world-signed-copy. And as usual, here’s a picture of the book, for those of you just tuning in.


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