Book Signing Etiquette

Whether it’s a bookstore, a book fair, or other special event, book signings can be a lot of fun. They’re a great way to engage one-on-one with potential readers and network with other authors. However, we authors sometimes let our enthusiasm get the best of us. 

Treat other authors with respect

The worst experience I ever had at a book signing was during a big event weekend in Tombstone, Arizona. The local bookstore had invited so many authors to come and sign their books that they ran out of space inside the store. So, they seated me, along with one other author, on the boardwalk in front of the store. Strategically, we had a great advantage. There was a lot more foot traffic outside the store, and we were right next to the door. Customers had to walk past us before they went inside. I should have had one of the best weekends ever. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The other author completely sabotaged it. 

He was a nonstop talker who talked and talked and talked about anything and everything. Yak, yak, yak, yak, yak. He wouldn’t shut up. Not even while I was talking to potential readers, or trying to close a sale. And yes, he actually killed some of my sales.

As if this weren’t bad enough, he started babbling about a controversial book he planned to write about his religious beliefs. So while I’m trying to talk to my customers, he’s now quoting Biblical scripture, chapter and verse, in a very loud voice. Not only were people no longer stopping at my table, they were literally running away.

I strongly believe in religious freedom. However, this was not the venue for a religious debate. I normally did well at Tombstone events. This time, however, I had a disaster. I hardly sold any books, all because of one very self-centered author who couldn’t keep his stupid mouth shut.

A book signing is not a place to socialize

A book signing is where authors come to connect one on one with their readers. If there are other authors at the same venue, as there often are, please show some respect and a little common courtesy. Keep your conversations with other authors brief, and try to limit those 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 says rank ametuer more than interfering with another author’s sale.

Gayle Martin