Being face to face with an author is unnerving, whether I have read their work or not. Other people may be able to gush with grace but I, alas, cannot. Mostly I am just silent.
Could I tell Guillermo del Toro how much I loved Pan's Labyrinth? Nope. Chris Colfer what an inspiration he is? No way. Dude, I couldn't even stand a few meters away from John Green (having finished The Fault in Our Stars only a couple of days previously) without shaking.
I've always liked to pride myself on not being one of those crazy scary fan girls. Sure, I obsess over fiction...but people? Not to the same extreme. I've also never had much of an attachment to autographs. It's just a written name, isn't it?
Having a book you love signed by the author, I'll admit, is pretty epic...but what about an author you haven't read?
Some readers adore signed books, even if they aren't familiar with the author, or didn't get it signed in person but received it second hand. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but I find it strange to have a book by an author I have not read signed when I don't know if I'll like it or not. Even if I do like it, there is a wonderful freedom in knowing that I might be able to pass it on to someone else who will appreciate it...and if not them, someone else.
I'm ashamed to say that the books I've had personalised to me, before I had read the author in question, are ones that sit on my shelf still unread. You would think having my name in a book would make me more eager to read it but instead I feel that I am eternally stuck with a book that I am unacquainted with. I have been married off to it in a rush and now I'm panicking.
Yes, I am weird. It's no secret. I embrace this fact. Yet, there is nothing so awkward as when I go to a signing and have to tell the author in question that I don't want it personalised. Either it's a "just signed" or - in a worst case scenario - I have to actually use the word "no" when they ask.
It's moments like these that my ability to say what I actually want to - like how I saw a promotional trailer for their book and am really enthused to read it - would come in handy. Instead I'm usually blundering a "thank you, thank you so much" and shuffling away as fast as I can.
To credit the authors, most of them are lovely and haven't given me that "sure, yeah, whatever" feeling when I was an awkward mess in front of them. They know that my preference in that moment isn't personal. It's the authors who always smile at me when I'm over-analysing everything I do, still unable to say anything that makes sense, that compel me more to read their books.
What is your preference when it comes to having books signed? Do you put much store by signatures and personalisations? Also, if you have any tips on how to act like an actual human being around authors, please share.