Living in California has afforded me with the blessing of being able to attend lots of book signings in the past year. At this point, I would call myself a book signing veteran. In my time attending book signings, I’ve seen some unfortunate behavior. So today, I’m here to share some general advice about Book Signing Etiquette so you can avoid being that person that everyone is side eyeing.
The single most dreaded question at book signing is “How do I get published”. There has been at least one person who has asked this at nearly every signing I’ve been to. It is the most grating thing. There was even an audible groan from the people sitting around me when this happened at the last signing I went to.
There are an INFINITE amount of resources online that tell you how to get published. Most of your favorite authors probably have this in a Q&A they’ve done online or in their FAQ. Just google it. It’s that easy. I cannot imagine how annoying it must be for authors to answer this during every Q&A. Wasting time by asking a easily searchable question is so incredibly rude to fans who are dying to ask a unique question. And asking probably shows that you haven’t done any research about getting published. If you really want to know an author’s personal advice, then ask them when you get up in line for them to sign your book or email them or something else just don’t do it during the Q&A.
Again, much like the first point, don’t ask questions that could easily be googled. I can’t imagine what it must be like for an author to get 37281928 questions about who their publisher or agent is.
When people do this at crowded signings, it’s so annoying. There usually isn’t time for everyone’s questions to be answered at signings, especially when they’re running late or there are a ton of people in the audience. Don’t be that person who takes someone else’s opportunity to ask a question that’s actually, you know, interesting. Much like the first point, if you’re burning to know their favorite color, then ask them when you get your book signed.
(Pro Tip: If you’re at a signing and the authors are asking for questions but are just getting crickets, feel free to ask a basic question. In fact, I would encourage you to do so. Break out your small talk points, weather news and all.)
Earlier this year, I went to a signing for a book I was pretty excited for. After the Q&A ended late, I waited for about 15 minutes in the signing line and then got to the next in line spot. The person in front of me talked to the authors for a long time about their blog. A lot longer than someone who cares about the long line of people behind them would talk. Then, the publicist took my books and had the authors sign them while they were still talking to the person in front of me.
By the time both the authors had signed my books, the person in front of me was still talking to them. I didn’t get to say a word to the authors besides a quick, inaudible thanks when they handed me back my books. It was one of the most awkward author experiences I’ve had.
I get wanting to talk to your favorite authors about something, but don’t hold up the line, especially when it’s late & at the expense of the people behind you not being able to say ANYTHING to the authors. Consider going to the back of the line if you want to tell the authors your life story.
If this happened at a signing for an author I loved, I would’ve been pissed. I feel so bad for the people behind me because I’m sure they cared a lot more about the authors than I did. And this was an adult who was holding up the line. If it’s was a teenager, I doubt it would’ve grated me. But when you’re an adult, you should know better.
I totally get people bringing their entire library of books to a signing. In fact, I get really annoyed when people complain about people who bring a lot of books. You never know why they are bringing 10 books for an author to sign. Maybe they are from out of state and this is their one chance to get their books signed by their favorite author. Maybe they ditched school for the signing and are bringing all their friends’ books to get signed while the rest of them are in class. Maybe they just want to get all their books signed. Whatever the reason, don’t be a dick about it. You don’t know their circumstances and who cares. Complaining out loud about how the person in front of you brought too many books is rude and quite frankly embarrassing to watch, especially from Adults at YA events.
(Pro Tip: Signings always run long. That’s just how it is. Whenever I have more than 5 books, I go to the back of the line as a curtesy. It’s helpful to get people who only have a couple books through first so the crowd can start clearing out. If you don’t have homework to do and your cat isn’t at home sick, consider doing this (and it gives you more time to calm down & think about what you’re going to say when you meet the authors.))
Yes, everyone should be civil at book events. However, Adults need to be extremely mindful of their actions at Young Adult Signings.
No matter how much you love the authors at the event, they did not write the book for you, Adults. That’s the reality. When you’re attending an event that has teenagers in mind, you have to understand that you’re a guest. Being older does not give you the right to cut teenage readers in line, push people, made snide comments, or stand in line talking to the authors for hours when the teenagers waiting to get their books signed behind you probably have homework to finish and class the next morning.
Adults, attend all the Young Adult Events you want. But you need to realize that you’re not the target audience and you don’t get to act superior and entitled because you’re older than most of the other people in the room.