Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bad Author Behavior

There should be a Remedial Courtesy 101 course required for book signing events. I'm serious. I've been at multiple author events many times and always come away appalled and distressed at the total lack of consideration some authors exhibit.  And we aren't talking big names who are legendary egotists, though they above all should set a better example. No, these are my peers, those who are with a small press or perhaps independently published who are appearing at the local bookstore. And I am ashamed of many of them. Why, you ask? Here's the Top Ten:

10. They think everything should stop with their arrival--which may actually be twenty minutes late. Sorry but showing up on time is a sign of respect and maturity.

09. They think they can "wing it." They either aren't used to public speaking or they have a higher estimation of their oratory talents than an appreciation of reality. Sign up and attend Toastmasters and learn to scour "like, you know and uh" out of your vocabulary.

08. They expect the bookstore staff to wait on them hand and foot. "Get me a water." Sheesh, you can't even say please? These people are working--and NOT for you.

07. They have no concept of how to choose a selection to read. "I'll read the first twenty pages of Chapter One." Remember KISS: Keep It Short and Simple. And while we're on the subject:

06. They never explain before they read what the listeners need to know. They mumble on and suddenly stop in the middle of a sentence with, "Oh I should tell you that before this, this guy was like you know, wanting a puppy and like his mom wouldn't let him have one, so now he's like found this baby angora goat..."  Even if people hadn't dozed off with your first fifteen pages, stopping in the middle is like throwing a bucket of ice water in their faces.

05. They never practice reading aloud, stumbling over words and mumbling in a monotone.

04. They glare at customers who aren't interested in their genre. Hey, not everyone is into the Life Cycle of the North American Maggot and Their Favorite Dead Meat to Eat. Sad but true. Get over it and direct the customer to an author they might like. Or just plaster a smile across your face and stay quiet.

03. They make a ruckus to correct another author. This really bugs me. Yes, people get facts wrong. That doesn't give one a license to go Jerry Springer and stand up shouting. Embarrassing or humiliating another author in front of possible readers only proves what an insecure idiot you are. Sit down and shut up. Talk to them afterwards, quietly, if it bothers you all that much.

02. They drone on and on and on. I don't care if they are a professor at Harvard, if members of the audience are fidgeting, drooling, snoring, or seem to have gone catatonic, it's time to shut up.

And the Number One Bad Author Behavior:

They forget there is any other author in the room, hogging the microphone or the stage, never acknowledging how long they have been denying someone else the opportunity to talk.

Whatever happened to courtesy and manners? Has anyone else had to deal with this?


~Jude Johnson
 Author, Dragon & Hawk
Available from Champagne Books
My profiles: Facebook Blogger Blogger


Anonymous said...

I agree, and with a few words changed your behavior 101 instruction sheet applies to general human behavior in dealing with others in everyday life.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year, (2008 and 2009)

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Love your list, Jude - haven't come across someone like that yet, but I don't go to that many!

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I guess I've been lucky. Must be my scintillating personality.

T. M. Hunter said...

Thankfully, all of my readings have either been me, or me and another author who knew the appropriate etiquette...signings, I've never had an issue with other authors on a personal level, though I was often left shaking my head at the lack of effort they'd gone through with their (usually) self-published or vanity titles.

My favorites are when they look at you in awe and are mystified that you didn't have to pay anything to get published...

Jude Johnson said...

Thanks everyone. Mike, you are so right, it's lamentable how inconsiderate people are in general these days.

Rosemary & Julie, you two are most fortunate! I think I've run across some of these offenders because I've been in large group festivals, signings, and fairs. Seems I see the same few who ruin it for others in this area, so I'm trying to avoid such events.

Todd, lack of effort is mind-boggling, isn't it? I have seen it with traditionally published people as well, and it always makes me wonder why they bothered to write anything at all.

Sorry to be cranky and negative on this post. Self-absorbed people irk me. ;-p


January Bain said...

Wow, I had no idea! I've done shows for my art work many times before and I was always so grateful anyone showed up that it was rather easy to follow rules that people should have learned in kindergarten. How sad that you have had that kind of experience, Jude. Authors should be called on such rude behavior!!! Thanks for pointing it out.

KMTolan said...

Heh, I've seen pretty much all the rules broken. Some by Names, and some by folks with a small press. Had one fellow get out in front of me at a panel and try and turn the whole seminar into e-book bashing and an advert for his first book.

Then there are the authors like Todd McCaffery and David Weber - approachable, sociable, and happy to share their time with other authors on a panel.

K Tolan