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, 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, along with another author, seated out 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 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. So instead of stopping at my table, potential readers were literally running away.

Please don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against religion and I strongly believe that everyone should be free to practice his or her 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. So instead of a successful weekend, as I normally have at Tombstone events, I had a disaster. I hardly sold any books. All because the author seated next to me couldn’t keep his freaking mouth shut.

A book signing is where authors come to connect one on one with their readers. So if there are other authors at the same venue then please show some common courtesy. That means keep the conversations with other authors 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 potential buyers. Nothing is more unprofessional than interfering with another author’s sale.

My tip for the day.