Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book Signing Etiquette

It's that time of year again when I get busy doing book signings, and while my intent with this post is not to sound preachy, I would like to point out that we authors can sometimes let our enthusiasm get the best of us. Please consider this a gentle reminder that we all need to mind our manners at book signings.

Looking back, I think the worst experience I ever had was while I was signing books down in Tombstone, (Arizona). It was one of their big event weekends, and the bookstore had me, as well as another author, seated outside on the boardwalk in front of the store. Unfortunately, the author they'd seated next to me was a non-stop talker. He talked and talked and talked to me about anything and everything. Yak, yak, yak, yak yak. He just wouldn't shut up, not even while I was trying to talk to potential readers about my books, or trying to close a sale. As if this wasn't bad enough, he started blabbing about a rather controversial book he was planning to write concerning his religious beliefs. So, not only was I stuck with him yapping my ear off as I'm trying very, very hard, to talk my customers, he's quoting Biblical scripture, chapter and verse, in a very loud voice, in a very public place!

Please don't get me wrong. I have nothing against religion and I strongly believe that everyone should be free to practice their faith. However, there is a time and place for a religious debate, and it is never on a sidewalk in front of a secular bookstore, at a secular event, where other authors are signing non-religious books! People were not only not stopping by my table, they were practically running away because this other author was, honestly, sounding like a nut. Instead of a successful weekend, as I normally have at Tombstone events, I had a disaster. I hardly sold any books.

A book signing is where authors come to connect one on one with their readers, although there may be other authors at the same venue. And while it's nice to meet and network with other authors, please remember to keep it brief and try to limit the conversations to those times when there are no customers around. Most importantly, keep your mouth shut while other authors are talking to a potential buyers! Nothing is more unprofessional than interfering with another author's sale.

My tip for the day.



Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc. said...

That's it? You never shut this guy up? Look, when someone is affecting how you feed your family there's no need to worry about this idiot not liking you.

"I'm very happy we had this short introduction talk. Now if you don't mind I need to concentrate on selling my books just as I'm sure you do."

Gayle Martin said...

I tried, but it was one of those dicey situations where you're in a crowded, public venue, and you don't want to cause a scene and leave a bad impression on your potential readers either. I was also less experienced back then. If something like that were to happen today I would simply go back into the book store, tell them there was a problem, and asked to be moved.

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