Whether it's a bookstore, a book fair, or other special event, book signings can be a lot of fun, and a great way to engage one-on-one with potential readers. However, we authors can sometimes let our enthusiasm get the best of us, so please consider this a reminder that we need to treat our fellow authors with respect.
The worst experience I ever had at a book signing was during a big event weekend in Tombstone, Arizona. The local bookstore had so many authors signing books that they ran out of space inside the store, so they seated me, along with another author, out on the boardwalk in front of the store. This should have been a strategic advantage, as there was more foot traffic outside the store. Unfortunately, the other author was a non-stop talker.
He talked and talked and talked about anything and everything. Yak, yak, yak, yak, yak. He wouldn't shut up, not even when I was trying to talk to potential readers about my books, or trying to close a sale, and yes, his incessant talking actually killed some of my sales. As if this weren't bad enough, he started babbling on and on and on about a rather controversial book he was planning to write about his religious beliefs. So, not only was I stuck with him yapping my ear off while trying to talk to my customers, he's quoting Biblical scripture, chapter and verse, in a very loud voice, in a very public place. So instead of stopping by my table, people was literally running away.
Please understand that while I strongly believe in religious freedom, there is a time and place for religious debate, and it is never on a sidewalk in front of a secular bookstore, at a secular event, where all the other authors are signing non-religious books. So, instead of a successful weekend as I normally had at Tombstone events, I had a disaster. I hardly sold any books, all because one very self-centered author couldn't keep his stupid mouth shut.
A book signing is where authors come to connect one on one with their readers. So if there are other authors at the same venue please show some respect and some common courtesy. This means you keep your conversations with other authors brief, and try to limit those conversations to those times when there are no customers around. Most importantly, keep your mouth shut while other authors are talking to potential buyers. Nothing is more unprofessional than interfering with another author's sale.