Books Magazine

Discussion: Book Signing Etiquette

By Literaryexploration @Lit_Explorer
Someone asked me a question about the etiquette for book signings on Formspring and I think it's an awesome topic to cover! I go to A LOT of book signings thanks to Not Your Mother's Book Club, and I've sort of developed my own policies for attending book signings over the last few months. Remember, these are just my personal opinions based on my experiences; however, I did get some input from Maggie who runs Not Your Mother's Book Club, so she knows these things.
Do I have to buy the books at the signing? Every book store has their own rules for book signings. One of my local indies, Hicklebee's, requires that you buy at least one item at the signing to help support the store, which I think it completely fair. Not Your Mother's Book Club hosts almost all of the book signings that I go to and they don't have any requirements for their signings. Cool right? Sure, but what people don't realize is that “publishers expect the store to sell the author's books” (straight from Maggie!!!) so if you don't buy any books at the bookstore, and you get them all off Amazon or at Barnes and Noble or something, then you're not supporting the store or the event. By purchasing an author's books at their signing you're helping to fund more events at that book store! Publishers aren't going to send authors to stores where they're not selling anything, especially when they have to pay to fly the authors out there, put them in hotels, and pricey things like that! So just do everyone a favor and at least buy one book! Even if you're just going to give it to a friend or host a giveaway! Another thing to think about is what to do when you have the ARC of a book, or a finished copy from the publisher. What I like to do in that situation is just buy a finished copy at the store and either get it signed for giveaway or send one to a friend in a different area. Nicole and I swap signed books all the time, so I'm always buying something for her, which helps support the store but then I don't end up with several copies either. What if I am going to a signing with more than one author? Ohhh I love the NYMBC events because they ALWAYS have great panels, with several authors :) I know that this situation can be kind of awkward, especially if you've only read one of the author's books and you're really just interested in seeing them. Honestly, I don't think it's necessary to purchase all of the authors' books if you aren't initially interested, but maybe after you hear the others talk about their books you'll be interested in reading them! This happens with my friends all the time, they get super excited about one author and then they hear the others speak and get super excited about the other books, which they then proceed to buy right away! If an author is talking about their book and it just doesn't sound like something you want to read, DO NOT feel pressured to buy it!! You in no way shape or form HAVE to buy all of the authors' books. The first NYMBC event I went to was for Becca Fitzpatrick, Moira Young, Michelle Hodkin, and Simone Elkeles. I bought a copy of Hush, Hush at Books Inc, which I gave away on the blog, and while I thought about buying something by Simone Elkeles, I just wasn't interested. I hadn't read any of her books (and still haven't) and after hearing her speak I still wasn't that interested in reading them, so I just didn't. I don't think it's something to be embarrassed over, the authors have a ton of fans as it is, and you shouldn't obligate yourself into being one of them. What if I want to get my e-reader cover signed? I see this happen at a lot of signings, where people bring in the Kindle or Nook cover to get signed, but they don't have any physical books. Whether you bought the book through the bookstore's ebook store, or you bought it via Amazon or Barnes and Noble, that sale doesn't go towards the total EVENT sales. What does this mean? You're not supporting the event! Remember, buying books via the bookstore having the event helps support author events in general, because publishers are going to be more willing to send those authors back the next time around when their sales are good! So, the short and sweet of it is that even if you bought the book for your Kindle or Nook, you should buy a hard copy to get signed ALONG with your e-reader cover. You're helping to support the store and the event and you're helping to ensure that the author will come back! I want to get A MILLION books signed! This is me at like, every book event ever. I always tend to bring several copies of the books (for friends, giveaways, etc.) so I'm that awkward person with about six copies of one book, and five copies of another. Depending on the authors at the event, the location, the date and time and all that jazz, there might be A LOT of people wanting to get their books signed too! The best way to deal with this in a polite and respectable manner is to wait. Yes, you may be sitting in the front row so you get to see the authors first, but if you have a bunch of books to get signed you're going to hold up a lot of people and that's just kind of rude. Like I said, you should be polite to your other book worms and wait until the lines are thinner and people are starting to clear out. Also, this is a great opportunity to strike up a conversation with the people around you! Did you bring business cards for your blog? Who knows, someone's agent or author friend could be sitting right behind you! This is a great chance to network and meet new people! So just sit back, chat with your friends, and wait until the line is thinner to get your massive pile signed. OMG you are my favorite author I want to chat with you for 10 minutes!! This should be self explanatory, but don't hold up the line. I get it, you LOVE Tahereh Mafi so much that you want to tell her about every little thing that you loved in Shatter Me. You want to tell her how it changed your life and how you swooned over Adam for a week straight. But please consider the people in line behind you! I can't tell you how many book signings I've gone to where there's that ONE PERSON who just needs to chat with all the authors for ten minutes each and who completely holds up the line. Again, if you want to chat with the authors wait until the line is a bit thinner! This is why I always make it a point to sit around and chat when the signing line first forms. This way I can spend a pretty good amount of time with the authors without holding anyone up. I absolutely love fangirling over my favorite authors, and taking pictures, and all that good stuff, but it's important to remember that there are a lot of other people there to support that author as well and you need to give everyone a fair chance to meet them! While most of these tips come from my personal experience or Not Your Mother's Book Club, it's always good to ask about policies at a certain book store before going to their event. Some require you to buy tickets, some require you to buy at least one item, and some don't have any requirements at all, but it's always polite to check and see what they prefer. Another thing that can make you look super professional is to sticky note your books yourself. Write your name on a sticky note and put it on the page you'd like the author to sign. That way there are no misspellings and the people running the event won't have to add sticky notes for you :) What's been your book signing experience? Do you attend a lot? What do you think is consider inappropriate book signing behavior? If you have any requests for future Discussion Posts let me know by filling out the form below! If I get enough, I'll try to do a discussion every Friday :)

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