A few weeks back, I went to my first book signing, except that it wasn’t really. I used to work at a bookstore and as an employee, I’d been to a decent handful of signings but the signing at Anderson’s Bookshop for Ransom Riggs’ Hollow City was the first that I’d attended as only a reader and a fan. It made me realize that there are some helpful things that people may not think about. If you haven’t been to a signing before and you’re at all intimidated, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with these things you should know!
Be prepared for the author to only be signing the book they are promoting. Depending on the size of the crowd and the author’s schedule, they may sign any and everything you bring with you, but if there’s a big crowd or the author has a tight schedule or maybe even for unknown reasons, the author may only be signing the specific item they’re promoting. While that can suck if you have a poster or something else that would look awesome with an added signature, accepting it will make things go a lot more pleasantly for you.
Along those lines, please know that this is an event for the bookstore almost as much as it is for the author. I had never been to Anderson’s before the Hollow City signing and I fell in love with the store based on my experience there. Since the bookstore is providing the location and often seating for readings, heck sometimes even security (Ozzy Osbourne signed books at the store I worked at, that was a big crowd) they probably want you to buy your copy of the book from them. Sometimes they require it. Calling the store to ask if you can bring your own copy is recommended.
It’s also helpful to realize that bookstore staff is not author staff. While they may know a lot about the signing and the store’s rules, sometimes things change and not everyone knows all of the little details. Staying patient and asking people where to find out the information you need is much appreciated by those trying to help customers who are in the store for the signing as well as all the customers wondering why the store is so packed that day!
When you’re actually in the store, it can be overwhelming if the crowd is a decent size or if the store isn’t actually set up with signings in mind. However long you think the signing is going to take, add an hour or two to that, just to be sure to give yourself enough time to stay through if you happen to be at the end of the line.
While you’re there, waiting for what might feel like far too long though, relax! You’re in the company of friends! You’re all there to see the same person, so you have at least that in common, it might be a good time to get new book recommendations, especially if the line runs through the aisle of the store with that genre in it. If you’re the type to talk to those around you, go for it! If you’re not, at least realize that you have things in common and stay patient through what can be a long wait.
Most of all, have fun! You’re there to see someone whose work you enjoy, so you should totally have fun with that!