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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The nitty-gritty of book signings 

This piece from the WSJ about how to prepare for book signings by bigtime celebrities has been linked in all sorts of places (I first saw it on Publisher's Lunch). Not surprisingly, something akin to an emergeny response plan has to be in place to control the crowd and make sure they are only after a signature, nothing more:
The memorabilia problem is particularly nettlesome when dealing with an author whose fame derives from achievement on the playing fields or pop charts. Inevitably, there coming through the line will be a tsunami of programs, apparel and CDs, items that have absolutely nothing to do with the business at hand. "In the interests of letting all the people who attend have an audience with the celebrity, you have to put a cap on what will and won't be signed," says Mr. Bogaards.

Signature management is similarly problematic for perennial bestseller types like John Grisham, Tom Clancy and Jan Karon, author of the wildly popular "Mitford" series. "Some of them, like Anne Rice, have a backlist of five or 10 or 20 books, and we could have a reader coming through the line wanting her to sign all of them and also wanting her to sign some body parts," adds Mr. Bogaards, declining to get specific about the body parts in question. "So now at her signings we say she'll sign one thing from the backlist plus the new book. Everybody walks away happy."

OK first of all..."signature management"? Is that like an official career field or something? Jokes aside, these are the kind of events that have me just a bit disenfranchised with the whole signing etiquette as a whole. Long lines for a simple signature? I'll pass, thank you very much, especially considering the print runs are so enormous that a simple signature's not going to be worth a hell of a lot anyway. Sure, fans like "the touch" as Bogaards puts it at the article's close, but is it really worth it in the end?

Still, considering how pervasive signing events are as a means of publicizing a book, it is important to have protocols in place. Especially when those collectors show up...

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