Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Trouble with Author Signings

So here's the thing. While author signings are truly a blast, and so worth the effort, they are, for me, a little bit (maybe even a lot) scary. Suddenly, I'm meant to think of something witty and brilliant to say during my two-at-the-most minutes with the author. And not only witty brilliant, something Witty Brilliant that no one else has thought of.  And I'm not a witty brilliant person. I have to plan my wit and brilliance and still, that never works for me! So, while waiting in line, I get nervous wondering which of these scenarios it will be THIS time. (By the way, all these are based on my real experiences. Though a little exaggerated here!)

First, there's the Stalker Approach: "I LOVE your book! I LOVE your style! No wait, I love YOU! You'll never stop writing, right? You'll write forever and ever and ever? Because I'm here for you, I'll read WHATEVER you give me! Really."

Or the Really Shy Approach: "Hi. Here's my book that you wrote. I like it. Will you sign it?" (This is what I want to do most of the time, but I would regret it later.)

Then there's always the Blog Talk: "Hi. Love your book. I blogged about it! Yeah, I have a blog. Yeah, I'm a book blogger. Do you like/hate book bloggers?  Do you have a blog? Do you read blogs? Do you know what a blog is? Here's my bookmark/business card/URL/Twitter name.... just in case you're interested." (This is what I want to say sometimes, but rarely dare to.)

Or you can Name Drop: "Hi. Love your book. I'm friends with Natasha of Maw Books Blog. You know her, right? Of course you do, everyone knows her. But yeah, we're, like, friends." (Pretty much what I said to Shannon Hale. ACK! But the next time I saw Shannon Hale... she remembered me, I think.)

Sometimes Hiding Behind Kids works: "Hi. Here's my kid Toto. She likes to read too and so why do you think she should read your book?" or "Hi. Here's my kid JJ. We read all the YA books together. So yeah, how does YOUR book compare to Twilight?" (We did this over and over at the Authorpalooza last February.)

Or Bring Someone Else: "Hi. I'm Suey and this is my friend so and so.... and she'll talk now.... because yeah, she reads too and everything." (Now, this could be good and bad both. What do you think?)

Then there's the Name Dilemma: "Hi.... so can you sign my book to Suey, it's easier than my real name, and perhaps you'll remember Suey for when I blog about you or send you an email or comment on your blog, and yeah I know it's funny nickname and I know it's what you call pigs to eat with but yeah my college roommate named me that and yeah.... okay maybe you SHOULD sign to my real name after all ..... then again maybe you could just sign it to the whole family because this book is actually everyone's I think.  Wait, actually maybe Toto/JJ/Moder/The Mr. got this book for Christmas? Hmmm... I can't remember... so yeah, maybe you should sign it to them...or maybe......" ( I pretty much go through this at every author signing. Seriously pathetic.)

Perhaps you do the Ultimate #1Fangirl (or Stalker #2): "Hi! Omigosh, I love your book so much. I love you so much. I write about you ALL THE TIME on my blog! Yeah, can I have a picture!?? Please? Omigosh, I can't believe I'm talking to you! Wow, this is so cool. Omigosh. I've read ALL your books. Ten times. Omigosh." (This is totally how I felt talking to Brandon Sanderson, but I really truly hope it didn't sound quite this bad. If I ever meet Markus Zusak I WILL sound this bad. Suh-woon! Someone will have to go with me and pick me up off the floor.)

Then there's the It's Me Again (or Stalker #3): "Hey hi! Remember me? Yeah, so does it look like I'm following you all over the place? Because yeah, I am! But hey, you keep writing so I have to keep getting books signed, silly me." (Pretty much what I said to James Dashner, just the other day.)

Or the opposite of that, the Foot in the Mouth Approach: "So, um. Who are you? Why are you here? Did you write a book or something? Is it good? Oh, so THIS is your book? Oh, nice cover anyway. So, why haven't I heard of you? I mean, after all, I'm a book blogger and uh, I've pretty much heard of everyone." (LOL... so NOT something I would ever say! But I have said "nice cover" to an unfamiliar-to-me author, and have since bought the book!)

Do you find yourself saying these same silly things? What other approaches do you use while talking to authors? Do you have any Witty Brilliant suggestions for me? Do you always promote your blog to them? And if so, how? And all you people who get to go to the Big Huge Festivals like BEA and meet author after author after author... what do you say to them all? I know some of you are the Witty Brilliant types and are probably wondering what I'm even talking about here, but for those who are the shy, reclusive types, I seriously want to know... what do you say?


  1. I love this post because I've been on both sides of the table--as the one signing and the one fangirling--and I can tell you that the "what to say problem" is just as nerve wracking on both ends.

    But you are definitely memorable, Suey!

  2. This is so true! Funny too. Have fun at your book signing :D

  3. HAHA what a complete roflfest!! Thanks for this post :)

    Unfortunately not many big authors ever come to my ittybitty country, but your approaches look completely true under what I imagine to be realistic circumstances.

  4. Okay, I seriously said that exact same thing to James Dashner the other day. I swear I see him everywhere.

    And, I know when I see Shannon Hale I'm going to say something so totally stupid. I need to write a script or something...

  5. You're doing better than me... I've never gotten up the nerve to go to one to begin with. Even after having an email conversation with the author!
    (Okay, so if I'd been able to, I probably would have gone to that one.)

  6. I love author signings! And I am usually pretty good at finding something to say.

  7. Bree: Ah thanks! I think it's the weird name that's memorable, right? But I can imagine that being the author has to be very nerve wracking too, and that's why I wish I could think of something to say that not every single person before me has already said!

    WinterWrite: Well, I guess it remains to be seen now whether I actually get to experience an author signing today after all!

    Natasa: Glad you enjoyed it!

    Emily: Shannon Hale will put you so at ease, you won't need to prepare a thing!

    Britt: We need to get you out more!

    Lenore: I can tell, just from your blog and popularity that you are one of those Witty Brilliant types that we quiet types need to learn from! So.. what DO you say?

  8. LOL I am so shy that I can imagine going through this kind of agonizing debate--what do I say (that won't make me look like a nutcase)?? I haven't really been to a signing (I've yet to see any big names visiting our town) but I hope I can get up the nerve to do so if someone ever does come for a signing!

  9. Since I work at a bookstore and am in charge of author signings all the time, I have dealt with this problem more times than I can count!!! One of my most popular approaches is the "pseudo-informed" approach...I research them before I see them, read their recent blog posts, articles and reviews about them or their genre, etc, then ask their opinion. In a way, it's almost the creepiest of all the stalkerish ones...

  10. I feel the same way! Usually I am too shy to really say much of anything and then wish I would have after I get home.

  11. Love this! I should have written a funny post about it too, but my only approach so far has been:
    ...silence... "Thanks!"

    I really don't say much. Probably because the few times I've spoken I said something that came out rude or stupid (I'm looking at one of my Shannon Hale experiences).

    So, will the Bring Someone Else approach work if I make you do the talking?

    Once, I managed to leave my husband in the line for signing while I went to the bathroom and came back to find him through the line already. I have to admit feeling relieved (in more than one way). :)

  12. I am so shy face-to-face I've never even gone to a book signing. I think I'd be nervous to meet my favorite authors in person, and say something utterly inane!

  13. I actually did the blog-talk thing at the last few signings I went to (during the LA Times Festival of Books). And I gave the authors my card so I wouldn't have to spell my name for them :-).

    But I never really know what to say either!

  14. And this is why I have not yet gotten the courage to attend an author event. I seriously have NO idea how to act or what to say. But if I ever met Stephenie Meyer, I would totally be stalker-fan.

  15. You are so freakin' funny, I want to come to a book signing with you now, just to guess what approach you are using.

    I can talk fine to someone I know absolutely nothing about but, let there be any relationship with even a book I've read and I babble like an idiot.

  16. I'm so glad I am not the only blogger who is nervous about whether or not to through in the fact that they have a book blog at an author signing - phew! I usually just blush, say I love their book, love them, and really appreciated the talk they just had, etc etc.

  17. i've only gone to a few signings and try not to say anything to idiotic. i usually just tell the author that i enjoyed the book and would appreciate it if they'd sign my book. boring but safe.

    nat @book, line, and sinker

  18. I pretty much do the shy thing--I didn't even have a blog yet the last time I was at a signing but I'm not sure I'll have the courage to bring it up.

  19. This is great! You are so right! I never know what to say. I always think I should find a specific moment in the book that I really liked and talk about that. But I can never choose, because I second guess myself too much.

    I had tons of fun last night, thanks for chatting.

  20. It would help if I actually went to author signings! The *one* I did go to, I was sent there as part of a blog tour, so I basically just said that. Sigh. If I lived in a cooler place...

  21. I used to ALWAYS be like that. As far as the 'blogger' approach, once I printed out the page of my blog that included the review and took it to the author. I felt dumb, but he totally recognized it, and said it was one of the first reviews for his book he had read, so it all worked out okay. Nowadays it seems like I've usually talked to the author first on Twitter, so I say "Hi, I'm Jen" and get a blank stare, and then add, "@devourerofbooks" and I get "Oh, HI! So great to meet you!" etc.

  22. Lol, such a funny post! I don't go to author signings very often, but I tend to be super shy about it when I do go.

  23. Katy: Yes, do go if someone comes!

    Cherylynne: I bet they like that approach.

    Tina: Yes, me too. I can't think when I'm nervous at all.

    Melissa: You've added two new approaches: The Silent Treatment and RUN AWAY!!!

    Jeane: But if you get the chance just go, shy or not. Really!

    Florinda: I'm starting to be less and less shy about the blog talk. I figure, what the heck. If they don't care oh, well, if they think it's cool, then cool!

    Michelle: You'd be JUST FINE at an author event. I know it!

    Susan: Ha! Yeah. Then you'll see how truly unfunny I am.

    Amused: Yes, that is my normal approach too. But then I'm always sad I didn't try harder to "be memorable" as Bree said up above.

    Natalie: Yes the Safe Approach! I should add it too.

    Lisa: You should... bring up the blog I mean.

    Lyn: Thanks for dropping by and yes it was so much fun last night!

    Melissa: You need to get out more too! :) I imagine you know just what to say to the authors.

    Jen: Interesting approach! I'll have to ponder.

    Kim: It appears we all feel pretty shy. Funny, isn't it. Those scary scary authors!

  24. LOL!!! This was a great post!!! I loved it!!! I can completely relate and just end up clamming up and saying the bare minimum! I'm not the greatest at being witty on the spot!!

  25. Love it! I met my first author at a signing the other day. I did the "Shy Approach" by hiding behind her books until she was alone. Then I said Hi. And then slipped "Blog Talk" in there.

    But yes, it was kinda scary!

  26. I am the painfully shy one. I have been to two author signings. One was for Kaleb Nation, and I don't think I even remember what I said. I do remember asking for a picture. Yeah, it was awkward. I didn't know what to say to the guy.

    The other signing was to a Deseret Book ladies night. They had a group of authors there, but I went to see Jennie Hansen. I mentioned my blog, mostly because I think she knows me as Haiku Amy. She actually wanted a picture with me, which I thought was cool.

  27. Ha! So true! I'm the talk-incessantly-because-you're-nervous book blogger or the let's-talk-about-snakes-because-I-haven't-read-your-book-yet book blogger. Sigh. Why couldn't I have had a more intelligent conversation with Markus Zusak? Oh well.



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