Having gone to many an author signing by now, I have learned a few tips and tricks about how to be the least amount of awkward you can while meeting an author. These tips come in handy especially during big conventions and things, when you’ll meet a whole heap of authors all at once. Conventions, like, say…ALA annual.
If you haven’t read the book that you’re getting signed, find something else of the author’s and read that. Even if it’s their blog! Familiarity is key to non-awkward interaction. (Or maybe just extreme confidence.)
Don’t have time/can’t find anything? Which might happen at conventions where there’s a lot of newbie authors signing stuff. Here’s what to do! Ask them how their day is going, if they’re having fun at the convention, what their favorite thing is about their book. Easy questions, in other words, that are still somewhat interesting for you to listen to and them to answer.
1b. Prep your camera while in line
If you want to have a picture with the author, prep your camera while you’re waiting in line. Get it turned on, set to the correct settings, etc., and then maybe scope out and see if there’s any helper who can take the picture for you. The person behind you, maybe? A store employee?
Just don’t be that person who fumbles with their phone/whatever for ten minutes trying to turn the flash on, okay?
ALSO (and this is so important), don’t forget to make sure that you can a) take pictures with the author in the first place (sometimes you can’t) and b) that the author is cool with being in a picture with you. Ask them beforehand! “Can I take a picture with you, please?” Yeah.
2. Mentally script what you’re going to say
This is related to numero uno. Usually you only have MAYBE five minutes max to meet an author and get your book signed (even less if it’s super busy), so you have enough time for one medium-long sentence/question and the author’s response. Prepare what you’re going to say in advance so you have minimal stumbling of tongue once you get up there.
In settings where you’re meeting maybe 10 authors in the same day, I’d even recommend writing down the author’s name and the question you want to ask them somewhere and reviewing it while you’re waiting in line to meet each author.
3. Don’t be a conversation hog
If you’ve got a long story to tell about how you’ve loved their book since blahblah blah, ASK if you can tell them the story before you tell it. Most of the time they’ll say yes. Sometimes they’ll say no, because the line behind you is 200 people long and they don’t have time for long stories. Either answer is okay! Just use your judgment. Maybe if you can’t tell them the story there, email it to them later? Just be cognizant of your surroundings and how the conversation is going overall.
This goes DOUBLE if you know the author personally. Signing times are not the times for you to catch up– do that after, when there aren’t antsy people waiting for you to stop hugging and kissing and whatever. Okay?
4. Say thank you!
Well, duh. You ARE a polite sort of person, aren’t you? Why wouldn’t you say thank you?
Also, if you haven’t read the book before, maybe say something about how you’re looking forward to reading it. And that you hope the author will have a nice day. It’s just POLITE, okay? Sheesh.
5. Wait ’til you’re out of sight to squee
It’s makes you look like less of a dork.
What are YOUR tips for author signings? Got any that I haven’t covered here? Let me know in the comments!