Be sure to check out my upcoming events here.
Presentation Matters - You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on swag and display merchandise, but if you're given a table you should make it as appealing as possible. For example, in the image below along with books and swag, I have a display rack, a table covering, and a string of white lights. Since the rack was borrowed and the table covering is a repurposed curtain, I only paid 99 cents for the lights. Small investment, big impact. Now about that wacky author...
Your Appearance Matters, Too - Strive to dress and behave appropriately for the venue in question. If you're visiting a school or library, keep in mind that children may be present, so be cognizant of your language and subject matter. You don't want to risk not getting asked back because you dropped a few inappropriate words.
And for the love of all that is holy, wear clean clothes! I will never forget one particular bookstore event where a fellow panelist was wearing a sleeveless top, thus revealing an absolutely filthy bra. Really, people, do you want to be known for your writing, or your hygiene?
Be Gracious - Most people are great. Some are jerks. Be kind and polite to everyone, since no one will remember the name of the heckler in the third row, but social media will light up like a Christmas tree if you lose your cool. So what if you've been asked the same question ten times in a row? If it's the first time that person has asked you the question, they deserve a polite response. Of course, if the same person has asked you the same question ten times, you have full permission to get creative with your answers :)
All kidding aside, you'll catch more bees with honey than vinegar. Saying please and thank you go a long way, and people remember kindness.
What are some tips you use at appearances? Have you ever been to an event that went south in an epic manner? Tell us in the comments!