Book Festival Etiquette: Getting Your Book Signed by the Author

April 24, 2017

For all of us, UntitledTown is brand-spanking new. We’ve never had a Book and Author Festival in Green Bay. Some of you may have never attended a Book Festival at all!

How are we all supposed to act? Are there rules?

Whether this is your first or 10,000th time attending a reading or joining a writing workshop, let us reassure you that it is very, very difficult to attend a Book Festival wrong. This week, we’re featuring a series of Book Festival Etiquette posts on different topics.

Today’s Topic: Getting Your Book Signed by the Author

If I already have a copy of the author’s most recent work, should I still purchase one at the venue? While many book festivals require you to buy your books on site and/or require only hard covers to be signed, our authors are open to their readers and their budgets.

We will have book sellers on premises to sell some books and self-published authors will also be there selling their own books, but yes, you are welcome to bring your own books to every single one of the author signings and you are not limited to only having hardcover editions signed.

Can I bring more than one book to get signed?  Typical etiquette usually is that if there’s a line, you have one book signed and then go stand in the back of the line for your next book to be signed. Generally, it’s silly to do that if there’s only one person waiting behind you—you can say, “Do you mind if I ask the author to sign two books?” to the person standing behind you, and people are usually gracious enough not to mind.

However, it’s another thing if you come with an armful of books and try that— you’ll probably get a sigh or even a dirty look from the people waiting behind you. So, after you get one book signed by the author, it’s generally prudent to step back to the end of the line and wait for a second and third and fourth go-round. 

The reason behind this is two-fold—at some point the author’s hand does start to wear out and they may choose to stop signing books. So, it’s not fair for someone to have brought nine books to be signed and then have eight people who didn’t get even one book signed. Our UntitledTown volunteers are trained to watch for this predicament and will give gentle nudges for people who don’t know the etiquette.

What about the Sherman Alexie and Margaret Atwood capstone events at the KI on Sunday, April 30? Two of our authors, Sherman Alexie and Margaret Atwood, do have a limited number of books they can sign according to our contract— and when we hit that number, that’s it. For the Sherman Alexie and Margaret Atwood events, we will be holding very firm to the “one book per person” rule. Of course, you’d be welcome to go stand in the back of the line for a second go-round, but in the case of those authors, you’ll likely have a very long walk to the back of the line.