Sherrie passed on a question that Mary Kennedy asked about how authors feel about book signings. I had to answer it.
>>>I’d like to know how authors at booksignings would like signees to behave. I’ve only been to one book signing, and it was horrible. I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything – just got my book signed and left. The bad thing is that I was the only one there with two tables of authors. Now I have a phobia of book signings!>>>
A phobia? Because the authors mobbed you? Covered you with kisses and hugged you near to death? They should have.
A booksigning is a chance for an author to meet readers, sop up praise and humbly but enthusiastically explain the mental processes which led to the birth of the book in front of her/him!
Only it doesn’t always work that way. You’d be surprised at how many authors have a phobia about books signings too. One of my author friends likened them to hooking: waiting for a customer, humming “Ten cents a dance.”
I can’t speak for other wenches, but can confidently say that sometimes, if you’re not into whips and chains, or being a self-flagellator, or on the brinnk of hanging yourself, there is no better way to experience pain, loss of ego, and experience a day in the life of an earthworm, than to be an author at a book signiing. (Unless of course, you write about Da Vinci’s secrets or are named King or Roberts, that is.)
Mind, some signings are superb and fulfill all technicolor dreams: with lots of avid readers in attendance, flowers and fresh water for them and the author’s throat, which is needed because so many readers ask so many questions.
Not all signings are like that.
Many are like the one you attended. Two tables of authors – one reader. (And you didn’t ask directions to the restroom? That’s what most authors expect at that kind of signing.)
I remember some particularly interesting ones.
Like a group signing at a Convention, when I sat next to a very popular author, who had leagues of fans lining up to adore her. They got so thick they had to lean over me to get to her. I had more breasts in my face than Casanova in his wildest dreams. It was not fun. The only thing said to me was: “Could you move over so I can put my books down for her to sign?”
Yet there was the time a reader came to see me from three states away, with some of my old books or me to sign.
There was the day when a tiny bookstore in a mall set me up at a bridge table in front of it. I sat there with my pile of books. Because there was a treasure in the book, I had put a little pirate’s chest loaded with golden foil covered chocolate coins on the table too. Aside from a sneaky little boy who kept coming by and snitching coins, not much was asked of me except for directions to the restrooms, of course.
Author as bathroom maven: Oh the humanity!
But there was a golden moment in it for me too. See, the mall was on the main street of Hicksville (really) and that street was called “Broadway.” They had a marquee in front of the mall with my name on it. When evening came, my husband took photos. The next day he showed them to me, so I could see, as he said: “my name in lights on Broadway.” Oh my. The memory of him, and that moment, is still hearwarming.
Then there was the time that a persistent questioner at a signing kept me talkiing for another half hour. He came up to me at the end and said, “Sounds interesting. I have to read something you wrote someday.”
There are so many stories! Good and bad. I’m sure the other wenches have their share too. But as to the question?
What should you do at a signing?
Talk to the author, even if you don’t know him/her from a hole in the ground. Ask anything. Say “Nice Cover” or “Looks interesting” or whatever comes to mind. If they seem a little stiff, it’s because
they’re trying not to look too eager.
And remember, if you do know the author, anything – anything – you say will be appreciated.
You are, after all, why we’re there.