Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Book Signings

I have been to a vast number of book signings in my time, and I have, over the years accumulated a vast plethora of knowledge, which I will now impart onto you, you lucky reader.

1) You have to buy the new book the author is promoting at the signing. Some book stores make in mandatory, but really it's just common courtesy. The author took the time to come out and see you, you need to show your support in return. Plus if they don't make enough money to warrant another tour, come the next book, you won't be seeing that author roaming the country. Additionally, the stores that usually get signings aren't big chains, but small independently run bookstores, and they need all the support they can get!

2) Don't be afraid to ask the bookstore about their restrictions in advance. Some have personalization rules, like only the new book can be inscribed to you. Or maybe only 3 books total. But sometimes you luck out, I went to a Nick Hornby signing and I called in advance to see what the restrictions were, turns out, the event had almost no one coming and they told me I could get as many signed as I wanted!

Personalizations, an aside. Collectors say that books are more valuable signed and dated and not inscribed. I personally take the view that this is bullshit. I'm going to see an author because I like their work, and therefore my book is my book and it means more to me signed to me. Also I've found that authors appreciate this, usually they all ask, "Are you sure?" My response, "Hell Yeah!" To which they smile, because they have a fan, not someone who's getting a book signed to sell on ebay.

3) Don't be afraid to be first in line. Some bookstores do numbering, some don't. I've always found that people are frighted to be first in line. Why? If you're first you also get out first? So be brave and decisive and be that first person!

4) Post-it-notes are awesome. For ease of signing and making sure your name is spelled correctly, I always put a post-it-note with the correct spelling of my name on the half title page (the page that is "traditionally" signed). It also speeds up the line and makes it easier for the author to find the right spot.

5) Always be polite and curteous, the staff and the author are doing this for you.

6) Can't make a signing? Contact the bookstore, they may be having the author sign stock or you may be able to get a book signed to you. Questions never hurt anyone! Also if an author is not coming to your city, check out their site, see where they are doing signings and contact a bookstore that is on the itinerary. I in fact have a few bookstores that I rely on, they have wonderful customer care and really go that extra mile. One bookstore that has never let me down and I'm now on a first name basis with the staff, without ever having been there, is Murder by the Book in Houston, Texas. They'll do personalizations, also if you order the new book you can send in 3 old books of that author to get signed as well! They are also good personal friends of Charlaine Harris, just fyi, and I think that's pretty cool. I have also used Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, though their customer service isn't the best and sometimes you don't get what you requested. I've also had a good experience with The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles and The Concord Bookshop in Concord, Massachusetts. And finally, if you are just wanting a signed edition Powell's Books in Portland has a wide selection of signed books.

And finally, just go out and support your authors! Over many years I've met many great authors, a few of which are: Carole Barrowman, Christopher Golden, Shannon Hale, Charlaine Harris, Nick Hornby, Lisa Lutz, George R. R. Martin, Salman Rushdie, Caroline Stevermer, Joss Whedon, Lauren Willig and Patricia C. Wrede.


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