Book signings are exciting! Not only do you get to worship ahem I mean meet the author who has brought joy into your life, but you get to connect with like minded people. If you’re like me, I had no idea what to expect at my first book signing! I was nervous, but when it was all over I was happy as can be. Now for big festivals or conventions (ie. BEA or ALA) the format might be different, but I do think you’ll be able to apply a few of these.
• Call the venue ahead of time (especially if it will be held a bookstore or library) and inquire if you’re allowed to bring your own books. If so, ask them how many you’re allowed to have signed and if there will be books for purchase. It’s also important to ask if you’re required to purchase a book for each signed copy. For example, The Poisoned Pen in Arizona allows 2 personal copies per 1 copy of the author’s current release (so have 4 copies you want signed? You’ll have to buy 2 copies of that new release).
• If you’re attending a multi-author event (like Book Bash, etc) ask the organizers how many books you’re allowed to bring to have signed. I’ve heard stories of people not getting copies signed because everyone had their own books plus copies for friends. Be courteous to your fellow attendees.
• Bring cash for your purchases (if you can afford it) since you never know when the credit card machine will be down. But don’t bring large bills since you want to make sure everyone gets their change back.
• Arrive 30-60 minutes early to purchase books that way you aren’t scrambling after the q/a to get one. Also you’re guaranteed a seat especially if it’s standing room only.
• Some book signings are very informal and questions dominate the discussion. Have a few questions on hand in case no one else has any.
• If you have a spoiler type of question-wait until you’re in line to ask it, but do try to be vague so the people waiting in line won’t be spoiled.
• If attending a multi-author book signing, try to purchase books ahead of time (if you’re allowed to bring your own). The author may run out or the bookseller might not have any on hand (this has happened to me before).
• Carry a tote you’re comfortable hauling because you’ll acquire goods and it will get heavy! Your shoulders will thank you. Also pick a tote that is large enough because you’ll need plenty of room to store your books & swag.
• If bringing your own books to sign, it’s helpful to include a post-it note inside the book with your name (usually on the title / author page) so the author can sign your name and not misspell it. This is also helpful if you’re getting copies signed for friends and the author can quickly sign them. You can also include the inscription you want on the post-it. Remember to print legibly!
• If attending a book festival or convention make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes! While some women may be able to stand and walk for hours in high heels, if you aren’t one then go for comfort! Your feet will thank you later.
• If you’re a blogger and want to do a wrap up post, then carry a pen and notepad and write down questions / answers as they get addressed. Don’t worry about writing in complete sentences. You’ll be using your notes for reference.
• If you’re allowed to bring your own books and you want the author to sign your entire collection, be one of the last people in line that way you aren’t holding the line and those who need to get home can be in and out quickly.
• Don’t hog up the line talking to the author. Yes you’re excited to meet them, but keep in mind there are others behind you. This can be problematic at a book convention when you have other panels to attend and can’t because someone is talking their ear off.
• Don’t arrive early to stand in line and then let 15 of your friends come later and cut. It frustrates the people in the line who made the effort to wait.
• If an author has swag, ask if it’s okay to take more than one item. Most will say yes, but some authors might have a limited supply of let’s say coffee mugs or t-shirts. Don’t be greedy. You want everyone to go home with something.
• Don’t ask a person why an author gave them x number of swag & complain you only got one item. That’s between the person and the author.
• Don’t be upset if the author doesn’t recognize your Twitter handle or remember you from the email exchanges. They meet a lot of people with the same name.
• We’ve all heard about first impressions. Don’t take it personal if you don’t “click” with the author. Sometimes that’s life-we may love their work, but in person, the magic isn’t there.
• Don’t forget your camera! You may want to get a picture taken with the author or take pictures for your blog post.
Keep in mind:
I know it’s a pain in the butt when you can’t bring your own copies to a signing, but keep in mind that’s the venue’s policy. Bookstores hosting a really popular author may charge a small fee to cover the extra staff they need to hire. If they charge you, it’s usually the cost of the book and it will be signed. This is to prevent long signing lines. A few years ago Neil Gaiman fans in Georgia waited 7 hours to get a book signed. Imagine if everyone brought more than 3 copies? It’s easy to imagine why there was such a long wait.
Do you have any additional tips I may have missed? Let me know and I’ll add them.