Saturday, June 9

It's Not Personalised

I'm no good at improvisation. It makes me nervous, anxious. Even when I plan to say something in my head, when put on the spot I'm a bluster of awkwardness.

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.


Teresa said...

I'm like you in that I'm not all that into having books signed unless it's by an author I like, and I especially don't want them personalized unless I know the author's work and am sure the book will be a keeper. At bookstore signings, I like to take an old favorite by the author and have it personalized. Sometimes I forget or feel awkward about not having books personalized, but if I don't like the book that much, I'll give it away anyway. I like the idea of someone down the line ended up with a book signed to "Teresa" and wondering who I am and why I got rid of the book.

Jessica said...

Hi Keri! I stood with you in the "line" to see the unveiling of An Abundance of Katherines and was witness to your excitement to see John Green. I adore this entry-- very honest! I like to have books personalized when it's an author I really enjoy or an author I've had the time to chat with.

Also, you've got yourself a new follower! Embrace your weirdness, and I look forward to reading more :D

Jessica from Wastepaper Prose
@JeskuhBS on the tweets

Alexia561 said...

Know exactly what you mean! I love autographed books, but only get them personalized if it's an author I love and know I'll keep the book. Otherwise, I'll just say no thank you and I'm going to host a giveaway when I'm done. A few times I said something lame like I didn't like my name. Had one BEA publicist tell everyone he better not see the books on eBay. Um, really? For a first time author? :o

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I'm jaded because I work in publishing. At a small-press book fair I was excited to find an unusual book, and its author was working that press's booth at the time. So of course I bought the book from him -- and when he asked me if I wanted it autographed, I shrugged and said no thanks. His sadness has haunted me all these years since. I wish I could go back and have him sign it.

Keri said...

Teresa: I once found a book that had obviously been signed by the author to someone they knew. It said “Maybe this will be worth a lot in 30 years! Thanks for the support.” Awk-ward. I think that if I end up not liking some of my personalised books, I’ll still pass them on. You’re right, there is an enchantment to bugging someone with the mystery and making them wonder.

Jessica: Star fish penis lady! Sorry, I couldn’t help myself… Heh heh heh. It was so great to meet you and I look forward to keeping in contact online. Weirdness people unite!

Alexia: Wow, that’s intimidating to have a publicist tell you that. I guess if there was a chance I would sell something on eBay, that would be a good way to unnerve me into not doing it…but it’s also a way to make me (who does not do the eBay stuffles) shuffling quickly in the opposite direction, forever branded with the message: This Author Comes With An Intimidating Entourage.

Anonymous: I guess with some authors it’s a reflex they can’t help. I don’t want to make people sad! I just want them to know that it’s not personal but it is awkward. So awkward.

Jae said...

I don't have any signed books and am not really that into them either. Then again, if it was a book I read, loved, then got to meet the author, that might be different.

I don't have any tips for interacting with authors because I've never done it, but I guess just remember that they are normal people. I'm sure they're glad you're not gushing over them or making them uncomfortable, so they probably appreciate your restraint.

bookbitereviews said...

This years BEA was my first one so it was only the second time ive ever met authors in person/got books signed. I honestly prefer getting books signed that either I have read and loved, I have read previous works by that author and loved them, or I have heard such good things about a book and have been staring at the cover on amazon longingly enough that I know I will love it lol. That's when I get them personalized, otherwise I just get it signed that way I can give them to someone who will love them.

Also as far as acting like a human being (lol) I am extremely shy and nervous around strangers already so when I get around my authors gods (as I like to call them) it's gets intensified lol so I know how you're feeling. I think honestly BEA helped me, though, because there I was surrounded by book lovers so it was a safe zone. Like how I could respond back and exchange cards with you after you commented my headgehog earrings =D. I just tell myself that they are people too and if you get a little too fangirly at least they will remember you and they will feel loved =D

And when you are in the company of books or book people, it's usually a safe zone. Lol GOOD POST TOPIC!!