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Friday, March 30, 2012

Discussion: Book Signing Etiquette

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 :)

43 comments:

  1. Lol love this post! I agree with everything, especially the holding up the line thing. If I have somewhere to go after, I get in line first and just don't chat up the authors. Otherwise I wait.

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    1. Me too!! Especially at big events, like the Dark Days Tour! I was one of the last people to get in line, but I also got to take lots of pics and chat with the authors for awhile :)

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  2. This is a great post. I've been to a few signings since I started blogging. So far I have never run into a store requiring you to purchase the book, but I can see why they would have the policy.

    When you go to events do you ever tell the author that you are a book blogger ? I've always wondered about mentioning it.

    Jess
    Books and Sensibility

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    1. Usually stores won't require it, or maybe they'll require you to buy the book if it's a big event, but it's always polite to buy something related to the event anyways. It helps the store get the authors back some time in the future! :)

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    2. Oh, and yes! I ALWAYS tell them I'm a blogger :) I usually chat authors up on Twitter before the event and let them know I'll be there and how excited I am! It's awesome when they actually recognize me :) Some authors will even ask for your blog link, so be prepared and get some business cards!!

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    3. haha, that happened to me! I was talking to Jessica Spotswood on twitter and she was going to the book signing with Ally Carter and Rachel Hawkins. So i told her that I was going to! and I saw her at the event and introduced myself to her, and she remember who i was :)

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  3. An informative post, especially for those who do go for signings. Thanks for sharing!

    Michelle

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  4. For some reason, the sticky-note thing never occurred to me even though it's a no-brainer. I love going to signings but there are next to none in my local area and only a few held in Sydney. As far as I'm concerned, those hosting events should print out this list and hand it out at events. I hate those people who jump to be front of the line and spend so much time hovering over the author that it just becomes awkward for everyone involved. I can't imagine it'd be fun to say 'yeah that's for wanting to talk to me, but you need to leave. Now.'

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    1. Hahahah there are always going to be those people that get so overwhelmed and excited over an author and spend a great deal of time chatting with them. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, as long as it's not a really busy event. When I went to the Dark Days signing I made myself wait until the end because I knew I was going to want to chat with the authors for awhile. If the event isn't too busy then I don't think it's really that big of a problem to chat for a bit, as long as the line isn't long!

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  5. For author signings, there are several things I do. I always have a sticky note to put my name on it (saves the event people some time), I always say hello to the author but I rarely fangal or strike up a long conversation with them like I plan to (it holds up the line in my experience and I'm way too shy and once I fangal over an author and their books I will probably never stop so the authors should be blessed for that haha), and I also never take photos with the authors. That's an important rule for me to follow. As much as I would like a photo of me and my favourite author, but when people have done it in the past (taking photos with themselves and then with the friends they came with) it really peeves me off because it holds up the line like . . . all the time. After all, while the authors love their fans for supporting their books, but they have so many people to get through in the long, long lines and to sign for . . . so us fans should consider that factor. Both for the author and for the people waiting in line.

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    1. Oh no, I don't want to discourage ANYONE from taking pictures!! I always take pictures with the authors, and I don't think that's really a problem since it takes about a minute to take a picture. I think taking pictures is definitely okay, and I would never be upset by someone taking pictures in line ahead of me.

      The thing that bothers me is when people want to chat with the authors for over 10 minutes and there's a really long line. It just makes it harder for other people to get their books signed, especially if they're in a hurry or they have to be somewhere afterwards. But there's also nothing wrong with hanging around until the line thins out and coming back to take pictures and chat if it makes you uncomfortable!

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    2. From my past experiences . . . photos were the longest part. Several people had friends with them and it took very long . . . unfortunately I get cranky over it. haha. It's okay for one photo but several? It's a pet peeve.

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  6. This was a fantastic post. I have only been to one signing, and I was the last one to have my books signed because I really wanted to fan girl a bit. Everyone at that event was pretty respectful so no one was waiting around for a long time.

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  7. Yeah, most of the time people are really respectful, but you always get those occasional people who are super pushy and what not...

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  8. This is perfect! My first signing is coming up tomorrow :) Thanks for the tips!

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    1. OHHH I am so excited for you!!!! Who are you going to be seeing??

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  9. As always Anna this discussion is invaluable! I've only been to one major book signing before for Sarah Dessen at a small Indie bookshop in CT. However, I'm planning on heading to the Teen Author event in NYC this weekend and will use a lot of this info! (Got to remember to grab a post it note pad before I leave!) I've bought several books already that I'd love to get signed but I always like to make sure that for every book I bring myself I buy a book from the store as well. Not only is it common courtesy, but it helps the store garner support and hopefully publishers will be willing to host another event at that location.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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    1. Well thank you! I'm glad you enjoy them :) I think that is awesome that you buy books equal to how many you bring! Way to support the store :) It's also important to remember the publishers ask for specific sales of THEIR books too, which they take into account more than if the store is just selling books you know? What I always try to do is buy at least one book by an author and do a giveaway or something for it :)

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  10. This is a great post! Unfortunately, I haven't had the pleasure to go to a YA author event since they're not near me but I did meet Kate DiCamillo, Michael Chabon, and David Sedaris at events before and they had similar policies. The tip with sticky notes is fantastic, it's also tedious to spell our your name several times. I'm so jealous you get to go all these events!! I hope one day to go to one too. :)

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    1. I do think I'm incredibly blessed to have a great group that puts on awesome author events. And I think events like this are great places to network as well. Haha I always bring my own sticky notes and pass them around :) The people who put on the event are like "Oh yes Anna already has hers :)"

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  11. I went to a signing for Sherrilyn Kenyon & Dianne Love's release of Alterant. I only brought my copy of Blood Trinity and bought a copy of Alterant because I thought it would be rude to bring other Kenyon novels while Dianne Love was also there. But apparently I was in the minority. Everyone in line had at least three other books. And Kenyon chats and takes pics with everyone. So even though I really enjoyed the event as a whole, the three hours in line for the actual signing was way too long. I think that there should be a limit to how many books you bring when an author has published 20+ but that's just me.

    And thanks for the tips! I always make sure to buy at least one book at these events, especially when they're local because they ate very few and far between in my area.

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    1. OH wow 3 hours is a long time!!! I definitely think there should be a limit in that case, especially for an author that has such a huge following. That would be stressful. Usually I clear my calendar when authors are in town, because I'm just so excited for them, but a 3 hour wait would still be annoying.

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  12. You talk about the best stuff in your Discussion posts! I have never been to a book tour/signing, and I've always wondered how they "went down," haha. I also loved reading everyones comments about going to book signings as well, I feel like such a nerd, but reading other people's experiences of book signings is my idea of story time!

    The post it note idea is pure genius, as everyone has also mentioned. It helps when your name sometimes isn't spelled like it sounds... or you're like me and your name ends in "ie" instead of "y". (Sallie). I'd be MORTIFIED if I forgot to tell an author the right way to spell my name, because people always assume it's Sally. I'd legit have to leave right away and be all sad, or get another book signed and have two books... and then leave all embarrassed because they'd most definitely recognize me the second time around! It's all these common sense ideas that I never think of, because I get too wrapped up in the whole, "omg, the author will be talking 5 feet away from me...". It just stinks that living in RI, the closest book signings are in New York and that's hours away... but one day!!! I will get the chance and I will be SUPER fan girly.

    If you don't mind me asking, where do most of the NYMBC signings take place? I'd love to be apart of something like that... even if it's 3000 miles away in CA, I can be there in spirit!

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    1. I think I'm definitely lucky to be in an area that has so many great signings. And all of the NYMBC events take place at Books Inc. stores around the Bay Area, mostly in SF.

      If you want to find out about more signings you should check out your local indie book stores, as well as author websites. A lot of the times there are events going on locally that I don't even know about until I see it on an author site, or book store event calendar!! :)

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  13. What a great post, thanks for all the tips!
    I have only been to one book release, and it was a small one, so I got lucky, lol!
    I'm going to my first signing next month for the Spring Into the Future Tour! and I'm so excited! but a little nervous, I hope the wait won't be too much, hee hee!
    Thanks again for sharing this with us :)

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    1. Spring into the Future is going to be SO COOL!!! I am super jealous, the closest signing to me is like... 2 hours away :( I hope you have so much fun!!!!!

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  14. This is a fantastic post! I've only ever been to one (non-academic) book signing, and it was only about 100-200 people, so things went pretty well. It's nice to have this for future reference though!

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    1. LOL! only 100-200 people! That is still a lot! I'm glad to hear it went well for you though :)

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  15. This would have been great information to have before I went to my first book signing, lol. :) I didn't even think about bringing sticky notes with me, but luckily the workers at the bookstore passed some out before the signing began. Now that I think back I wish I bought some copies to get signed. That way when I start a blog I have something to giveaway, but next time I'll be sure to get extra copies signed. The only thing that went wrong at my first signing was that people were so eager to meet Kim Harrison that they would cut in front of one another. Overall it was super fun and I'm looking for another signing to go to. I would love to go to the RT Booklovers Convention!

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    1. Yeah, thankfully I've never had the experience of people cutting.. that would be really lame. Usually the people who run the signing will have sticky notes available, but it always makes you look good when you bring them yourself :)

      And it's important to remember that publishers send authors to book stores in hopes that they will sell books! If no one buys the books, then they're not going to be willing to send the authors to signings anymore, so even if you have to buy a duplicate, do it because it's going to make sure that the author can come back someday!

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  16. This is such a great post, Anna, I'm sure readers will get a lot out of it!

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  17. Awesome, awesome post. Honestly, I think I'm just going to bookmark all your discussion posts, because they're all ridiculously helpful.

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    1. HAHA! You can just bookmark the "discussions" page if it makes things easier ;) JK I kid! But seriously, glad I could help!!

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  18. i agree with all of these things. i don't mind if people want to get lots of things signed or chat it up but it's tough when there is a huge line. i try to buy at least one book from the store that is holding the signing. gotta show your support!

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    1. Definitely. Or even if you want to go through the line to get stuff signed and come back when the line is shorter you can do that! You don't have to limit yourself to going through the line once!

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  19. Great discussion post again Anna! You gave some really good advice! I haven't been to many book signings and I remember the first time I went to one was at comic con and I was so intimidated. I never knew that I could bring more than one book to a signing. When I went to Cassandra Clare's signing for Clockwork Prince release, I only bought Clockwork Prince from the store. Then later I saw that everyone else had more books with them and I was so disappointed I didn't bring my other books.
    Signings are so much fun though and I have met so many awesome book people as well as my favorite authors. I have met the occassional rude person at a signing but I learned that if I have the time then to wait at the end of the signing line because then I will have some more time to chat with the author.
    That was a good point you made about buying the books from the bookstore during the signing. I wish so badly my local bookstore had book signings but they just can't afford it. I will definitely be taking away some helpful advice for future book signings especially for signings that involve several authors. Thanks! :)

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    1. I think at events like comic-con it's different though, like you can only get the book that they have available signed because there are so many people who want to get things signed and what not.

      And I think it's important to remember that it's not just about buying books during the signing, it's about buying books by that author, because that's what's going to ensure that the publisher sends the authors to more signings and what not. It's always awesome to buy books and support the store, but it's also good to buy books that are specific to that signing.

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  20. Thanks for posting this. I'm planning on going to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this year, and was wondering about taking books to see if authors are signing. I've not gone to others, because it seems like they can't be bothered to do any signings east of Pasadena. They always seem like they are in the posh areas of LA and Orange Counties, and I can't be bothered driving that far.

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    1. Festivals can be different, you might want to check and see if they allow you to bring outside books. Sometimes the authors will only be there to promote certain books and you'll have to get them at the event in order to get them signed, since so many people will be there and what not. I'd double check on that one!

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  21. I love this and agree with and do EVERYTHING on here, except the sticky notes, but the book store where I go to events already does this.

    And I can't stand those people who hold up the line with the long 10 minute chats. People even do that at BEA where time is limited and I remember being so frustrated and annoyed over it.

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    1. I know what you mean. Everyone at the event is there to see those awesome authors and they make time more limited for everyone else. It's a shame, but some people don't understand how to be a little less selfish.

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