I sat down with a couple other book geeks and we brainstormed some suggestions for book-signing attendees. These are meant to help everyone - fans, collectors, booksellers, authors & publishers. Having good manners keep the various attendees happy and being prepared lets everyone get the most out of their experience. (Good lord, I sound like a Disney After School special.)
Please leave your own tips, suggestions, corrections and stories in the comments!
1. Say “Please” and “Thank you”. Shake hands, or at least make the offer (don't be offended if the author doesn't want to - what with the 2,000 signatures they're cranking out...).
2. One of the books you’re getting signed has to be the author’s latest. And, if the event is being hosted at or by a bookstore, it should be purchased from them, on the day. If you already have a copy, get one for a friend. The success of the event/tour is measured by how that book sells.
3. Unless the venue specifies otherwise, you can bring your own – older books – along with you. But think about it from the perspective of the author or the bookstore - the publishing business model means they make money off of the new books, not the old ones. Be fair and bring/buy a mixture of books.
4. Generally, authors would rather inscribe than sign. An inscription means you that you’re getting a keepsake. A straight ('flat') signature means you could be putting it on eBay that evening. Some signings for hugely popular authors are the reverse - assembly-line style settings where the author is trying to churn out as many signatures as possible in a set amount of time.
5. Ask before taking a photo. Again, a photo of an author signing your book often means that you’re selling that book on eBay. So, time-permitting, ask to be in the photo with them.
6. Be sensitive when it comes to proofs (advance reading copies or galleys) - especially recent ones. A proof is meant to go to an editor, publisher or marketing partner, and is not meant to be sold (or resold).
7. Be conscious of the other people in line. If you intend on taking up a lot of time with a special request, let the kid with the paperback go in front of you. If you’ve brought a lot of books, you should clear it with the bookseller first, and wait until the end of the signing.
8. Make friends in line. The quickest way is to admire the books that other people brought with them. But there's no harm in getting along, and you might even learn something.
9. Have your book or books open to the page you want signed. If you’ve got a complex message or an easily-misspelt name, it can be helpful to bring it with you on a post-it note and have it on the page already.
10. Don’t be a dick. Don’t tell the author that you hate the way the trilogy ends, bring thirty books and demand to have them all signed on the spot, or warn the author not to ‘smudge’ the pages. (All things I've sadly seen... and I'm sure there are many worse stories out there)