Anyone who knows me personally knows two things about me...
1) It's important to me to be correct. This is not the same thing as being right, and will be the subject of a later post.
2) I like to be prepared for anything. And while I know that this is an impossibility, I still do my best to be ready for whatever comes my way.
Being prepared is the subject of this post. More to the point, being prepared for an author signing.
Now signings can vary in length. Some might last two hours while others can last five or six. And although no one is chaining you to your table, it benefits you, the author, to stay in your seat as much as possible since readers come out to meet YOU, and hopefully spend some of their hard-earned moolah on your books.
Aside from doing some socializing when, heaven forbid, things slow down, I rarely leave my table. So I make sure to bring everything that I could possibly need with me. Indispensable table items include, but are not limited to:
1) a box of tissues
2) hand sanitizer
3) several sharpies, including metallic colors (these seem to work best when signing bags or t-shirts and, trust me, you'll be signing lots of things besides books!
4) extra pens, in case the one you are using runs dry, or in case your table mate isn't as prepared as you and asks to borrow one.
5) a small pad of paper to jot down names and other notes. A lot of people will be introducing themselves to you and unless you have an incredibly good memory, you'll most likely have forgotten their name by the time you pack up your stuff at the end of the day. Or after a few margaritas at the after-party.
6) a small trash bag. Take out what you bring in. That's my PSA for the day.
7) a bottle of water or other beverage. Sometimes drinks are provided and sometimes not. And again, if you're lucky enough to have a line of people waiting for your signature, you don't want to ask them to wait in order to re-hydrate.
8) snacks, preferably something that won't get stuck in your teeth. It might be hours before lunchtime and you won't want your tummy rumbling as you are trying to impress your fans.
9) safety pins. These come in incredibly handy if you bring your own table linens. Trust me on this one.
10) tape, preferably heavy-duty like duct tape. It can be indispensable at an outdoor signing for holding a tablecloth on a table, or for securing a banner to the wall if your stand breaks. (I've seen it happen).
11) an order book, on the chance that you completely sell out everything that you brought with you and people want more.
12) a money bag or money box, unless you want to stuff bills in your pocket.
And while we're on the subject of money...
13) CHANGE!!! You don't want to lose a customer because you can't break a $50.
And most importantly...
14) your books, swag, and other goodies, as well as something to display them in.
I know, I know...I can hear some of you clamoring that there is no way you can haul all of this stuff to a signing without taking out a second mortgage on your house to pay the baggage fees at the airlines. I completely understand. I'm lucky enough, depending on your definition of lucky, to drive to all of my signings, so the extra space and weight aren't much of a concern for the 'family truckster'. This list isn't for everyone.
But if you're like me and want to be prepared for any contingency, it might help. Feel free to personalize it with whatever you can't do without for five hours or so. And if you do find yourself in need of something, just look for my table.
Chances are, I'll have it with me!