I’m Shy at Book Signings

Nose Graze Discussion

Before the book signing…

Beforehand, I’m PSYCHED. I have my business cards ready, my phone on hand for group selfies, and I paint this glorious picture in my head. I see myself walking into the signing, chatting to people while waiting, meeting so many new people, finding other book bloggers, exchanging business cards, making friends, and totally clicking with the author.

I imagine walking away with tons of group photos, pictures of me with the author, new friends to talk to on Twitter, and new blogs to check out.

I’m always wrong.

What actually happens…

I get there, sit down, and don’t talk to ANYONE unless they talk to me first. I’m awkward, shy, and literally can’t bring myself to strike up conversation.

Often times people come to book signings in groups and they’re all already chatting to one another. I feel awkward butting in to say ‘hi’. I don’t want to interrupt them or shove myself into their group.

If someone speaks to me first then I’m usually able to keep up a conversation really well. I often don’t come across as a shy person when someone else is the first to speak. I can keep a conversation going, I just can’t start one.

So in reality, most book signings involve me going, sitting, listening, talking to NO ONE, handing out ZERO business cards, and then meeting with the author for all of 2 seconds because I don’t know what to say to them either. I usually can’t even manage to blurt out that I’m a blogger, because I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging or shoving my blog down their throat (like “GO CHECK OUT MY AMAZING BLOG NOW!”).

I’m too shy

I’m an introvert, I’m anti-social, and I’m shy. I don’t mind being any of those things, but at book events, I kind of hate it. I wish I could be the person who uses bookish events as a way to meet new book lovers in their area. I wish I could use those events to network, make friends, and discover other bloggers. I wish I could actually find things to say to others other than, “Hi, loved your book, bye!”

How do you act at book signings and other events? Are you shy or bubbly and outgoing? Do you meet a lot of new people?

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I'm a 30 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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44 comments

  1. Before the book signing, I am a nervous wreck. I don’t like being around crowds. I overthink things like what I should say to the author and whether I should talk to other groups. (I often tweet to get my friends to calm me down, which sort of eases my nervousness.) Most of the time, I don’t talk to anybody because like you said, they’re coming in pairs or groups and I’m all alone. They have their own dynamic going and I’m too afraid to interrupt. I always feel like I won’t have any substantial to say to them. However, I did find myself making small talk with a couple of people from the last couple of events I went to in October. It was strange tbh because I am a shy person too. I don’t find small talk easy to do because I always feel awkward. (Overthinking and anxiety plays a huge role in my uncomfortableness of situations.) When there’s a few seconds (or minutes) of silence, I freak out. I feel like I should say something, but I never know what to talk about. :{ I want to tell everybody I’m a book blogger, but IDK how I could start a conversation. I need to practice talking to people. Lol.

    All the worrying I did about talking to the author instantly disappears when I’m in front of them. I am surprisingly calm when I talk to them. I always think I’ll hyperventilate or stay extremely quiet, not professing my love for the author’s books, but I don’t. I think I’ve done it once and I did not feel good about it. Lol.

  2. I have been both shy and outgoing at book signings. It just depends. More often than not, I am like you. It is hard for me to start a conversation. But I do tend to talk to the author but not too much. Just enough to feel like I had a good experience and so did they. But waiting in line at book signings, well, I have some odd experiences. Sometimes the people are…not to my liking. I know it sounds bad but a lot of the time there is always these groups who get together and act kind of superior either because they are bloggers or they are the “biggest” fans of the author and I just don’t like that attitude. We are all important, not just them. I don’t think myself special for being a blogger. They are very loud and railroad conversations. This has happened at three signings I went to so it makes me hesitate to start conversations. But then, I have met amazing people who are humble and kind and I love those moments. Like meeting you. So I am 50/50 at signings.

  3. I’ve never been to a book signing or event because they’re ALWAYS in London, which is just too far away from me. It would take me most of the day to get there and being a teenager I wouldn’t feel comfortable going all that way alone anyway. (Plus the train fare is really expensive.) But I imagine I’d be quite similar to you because I’m quite shy too. If someone started talking to me I’d be able to keep the conversation going fine, but I find it difficult to start up a conversation with someone I’ve never met before. Maybe you could try finding a blogger you already know and organise to go with them, or persuade a bookish fried to go with you? Great discussion post 😉

  4. I don’t ever get to find out because I live where there are no book signings nor can I afford to go and travel to any so I don’t really know. I am pretty sure I would be just like you because I am shy to begin with and what you described pretty much sounded exactly like me..lol. People who know me don’t think I am shy but I am like put me somewhere where I don’t know anyone and then you will see exactly how shy I really am.

  5. I am a shy person in groups where I know little to no people. I’ve found that the authors that I’ve been in contact with a lot I’m usually talkative to, everyone else probably thinks I’m a snob but I’m not, I’m just shy. If I meet up with a fellow blogger, she’s always very talkative and I wish I could be like her. Instead I’m quiet and tend to fumble my words. If I go to a signing with my daughters, they usually pimp my blog and business cards because they know it’s hard for me to.

  6. Ashley I’m like the exact opposite of you! I can engage conversation with someone really easily, but then I’m really hard at keeping up a conversation because I run out of things to talk about or I just get super overwhelmed by everything. But sometimes if I’m particularly excited or I know people who are going to be there, I’m really hyper and crazy, otherwise I’m just kind of quiet/shy. I definitely know what you mean about being an introvert though, because at school and in general I’m a lot like that. For me I kind of need a good topic to elaborate on and then I know what to say, but I’m really bad at staying on certain topics. But with authors I totally know what you mean. All I can ever manage to say is, “hello I love your book that’s a cool bookmark there kthxbye.”

    Fantastic post, Ashley! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine
  7. 100% agree! The book signings I generally go to are at my local indie where I’m close friends with one employee and therefore acquaintances with most of the rest, so I often am sitting by myself but chatting with friends when they run by between moving things around. I loved Brandon Sanderson’s signing since he took the time to ask each person if they had a question for him, instead of you feeling the need to speak up. I was so surprised that at first I couldn’t think of anything, haha!

    On the meeting other bloggers/book lovers thing, I feel like I need a t-shirt 😉

  8. I’ve never actually been to any kind of book event, because where I live they just don’t have them. It’s super lame. But, if I were ever to go to one (and I hope to someday!), I guarantee that I would act exactly as you’ve described yourself! I’m a shy, introverted person who has trouble starting conversations with others also. It sucks, but can’t help it! It’s hard to just walk up and introduce yourself! At least for me and you…I’m sure it’s easy for some and they just don’t get why we are the way we are!

  9. I’ve been to very few book signings and I’m shy like you. Never talking, barely greeting the author, all of that, even though the authors have always been top-notch friendly. Usually the only thing I manage to say is something embarrassing, like mixing up ALA with a local anime convention of the same acronym because I was only half-paying attention. :\
    The only time I’ve behaved myself at a book signing was when I knew the author already and showed up unexpectedly as a surprise. Much easier to be friendly when you’re already friends.

    Whitley recently posted: Mockingjay: Ch 11
  10. I have a very outgoing personality, but I’ll tell you what…my nerves were racing like crazy at my book signing. But you have to imagine that a lot of other people are anxious too, and I kept that in the back of my mind. It helped creating that common denominator—plus our shared love of books—and I was able to walk around and introduce myself to those around me during the downtime. Turns out, everyone was just as sweet as could be and I made some new author friends. I also learned that someone traveled almost 3 hours just to meet me and get her copy of Unguarded signed…and she admitted it took her an hour to pump up enough courage to come to my table 🙂

    Ashley R recently posted: Blood Promise Update & Cover Reveal
  11. I am introverted, as well, and never do well with starting conversations. What I did was search out other bloggers online that lived near me, and made plans to meet them at the next author event. While it was awkward at first, I’ve made lasting friends that way. AND you will be in a group at signings from that point forward, which definitely makes it easier to meet new people at each one. 🙂

    Smash Attack recently posted: And we’re closing in on the finish line!
  12. I’m a blend between the two (although this is speaking from the experience of only two author events). My first one I was lucky enough to have been approached by several different people, so it was really easy for me to make conversation and keep it going – I just can’t start it, like you. And the authors I met (Leigh Bardugo, Ann Aguirre, Jessica Brody, and Gennifer Albin) were all really sweet and easy to talk to as well, so that took care of my problems.

    My second one was meeting Marie Lu, and that was really awkward for me. I didn’t talk to anyone (except to ask the guy in front of me if he could have my two books signed since I had five and we were only allowed three at a time and I didn’t want to wait another hour in line), and the most I said to her when I had my books signed was “I just finished this one [pointing to Champion], and I had such a hard time putting it down after I read it!” Talk about awkward…

    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted: Can You Read a Fluffy Book After Something Intense?
  13. Oh man. It is totally the same for me! Usually, I go with my sister, so we don’t feel *completely* alone, but we both end up just sitting there quietly, afraid to strike up conversation with anyone else. Just like you, I can keep a conversation going, but only if someone else initiates it with me, first! And then, when we go through the signing line? Oh gosh. Usually, I’m too shy to say anything noteworthy or non-awkward to the author, lol.

    Kelley (Another Novel Read) recently posted: Almost Here! (January 2014)
  14. Yes. Yes. YES. Except, well, this sums me up in any social situation (because I haven’t been to a book signing…I nearly went to one, but I KNEW I would be too freaked to talk to anyone let alone even meet the author…so I passed). I hate it sometimes, that I’m like that. It’s frustrating. Especially when I’m surrounded by seriously awesome people. I’m still working up the courage to tell my librarian (who knows me kind of well) that I actually run a book blog…

  15. I’ve never been to an author event. The closest thing I’ve been to was the midnight release of one of the Twilight books (Eclipse?) and everyone there was either way younger (like, 7th-8th grade) or older (their moms and, yes, grandmothers) than me. I don’t mind talking to strangers but they were all in groups, so I just sat on the floor and read. And got stepped on by the little kids who got dragged along and were running all over the place.

    Jenna recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday: New Authors
  16. Ok so I thought it was just me!! I am soooo shy at book things! I feel so silly after wards not getting people’s emails or blogs to keep up with them because I have great conversations with all these wonderful books people especially while waiting in line for signings. But if they don’t talk to me first I’m usually sitting alone reading my e-reader. I am even shy when I get to the authors, I like them so much but all I can do is smile and say thank you! I always feel like such a dork. Maybe you and I should go to something together so we have a friend to talk too lol. You are not alone!

    Michaela recently posted: Top Ten New to Me Authors 2013
  17. This is totally me!
    Before the book signing, I have some high hopes – I’ll meet new people, talk to them, maybe mention that I have a book blog, and I’ll chat with the authors confidently. Instead, I come off as an awkward turtle; there’s awkward silences if I even manage to open a conversation with someone, nervous jitters, and my face gets all red when I talk to authors. I’m simply the forgettable person – I say “hi! I love your books!” and that’s basically it. I don’t know how all the other people manage to have such great and long conversations with the authors, I know I can’t.
    There is a simple solution for me with the meeting new people problem though: I ask on twitter if anyone else is planning on attending the signing too and ask if they mind meeting up. Since I kind of know who they are already, conversation comes easily and we can chat about all the books while we wait for the signing to start. This sadly does not solve the author problem though – even my friend who is not into books chats along with the authors A LOT better than I do. I’m completely envious of people who could do that effortlessly.
    Don’t worry Ashley, you’re definitely not alone in this!

  18. Ahahaa this is usually me in real life, but when it comes to books I’m not shy! I butt into conversations (which so far hasn’t gotten a negative response), start bookish conversations randomly with random people in line, and blurt out to the authors that I have a book blog and force my card on them. Haha. I feel TOTALLY awkward, but I do it anyway because I feel the need to blab about books! And it does pay off sometimes – I met Lori @ Writing My Own Fairy Tale this way, and had Julie Kagawa tell me she knew who I was (and gave me a hug), and also met a girl that I’m now friends with on Facebook!

    But, there are sometimes when I’m practically stuttering in front of an author that I’ve been dying to meet, and I act like a crazed mindless fangirl, then forget to do things like take a picture or give them my card or sign my tote bag. Then I walk away feeling like an idiot! I wanted to kick myself at YALLfest because I forgot to get a picture with Veronica Rossi and I didn’t even try to force my tote bag upon Tahereh Mafi (even though she probably would have said no anyway).

    Be assertive, Ashley! 😀

    Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat recently posted: 2014 Review Pile Reading Challenge
  19. Haha, unfortunately, I’m pretty shy myself when it comes to book signings, except when I know people. I love meeting bloggers there, but unless I talk to them constantly, I’m so scared to approach them. Don’t even get me started on the authors! I wish I could “crazy fan girl” over them, but I mostly just stare at them and smile like a sad excuse of a fan/reader, lol. I never know what to say to them except “I LOVED YOUR BOOK!”. Except when it comes to JLA, at her events I’m bubbly and all over the place, lol, Idk.

    Vi recently posted: Best I’ve Read 2013
  20. Wow, this is pretty spot on with how I feel EVERY time. I always think I’ll be able to get past that awkward thing but never do. I attempt to speak to the author but come out a babbling mess. I always feel sweaty/sticky and probably make no sense to who I’m speaking too. I always manage to thrust a blog bookmark at the author but I’m crazy awkward and I’m sure they are like…oookay. haha. It’s good to see I’m not alone in this. I love this post topic!

    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted: Review of Avalon by Mindee Arnett
  21. I never go anywhere new without someone I know, so when I first went to a book signing, I had my BFF with me. I started blogging a few months after that so on my next signing, I already knew most of the other bloggers here in Manila and I had people to talk to. I’m lucky that they’re all very outgoing because I’m also not one to start a conversation.

    As for talking with the authors themselves… that’s something I still have to work on lol.

  22. I am the very shy writer who sits on the other side of the table. My heart pounds, my hands sometimes shake. I wish I could speak the way I write with everything all thought out. But I can’t. I hope it helps to know that some of us are just as introverted as you.

    Andrew L recently posted: Drew’s Piano Recital
  23. I’ve only been to one book signing and one local blogger meetup. During the signing I was really nervous and shy but luckily I had a friend there. I ended up talking to the author briefly and she was awesome and took my business card. 🙂
    The blogger meetup was different though. All the people that knew each other sat on one side and the people who were new were lumped together. I barely talked because I was so shy but at the same time I also felt ignored by the hosts. I’m gonna say that one wasn’t the best experience.
    I think in the future if I bring a friend I should be ok, but alone I’m not always the most social.

    Kelsey recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday: Cress
  24. Yeah no I am not at all shy at book signings. Very animated and flaily pretty much from the start. I’m also that annoying person who chats with the authors forever so I pretty much always wait to be the last person. It does help that I know a lot of the people that are local to here — bloggers, my book club, the shop owners and other random people who I just always see at events. But even if I went alone I’d probably chat somebody up. Although in my first couple months of blogging I went to a Jennifer Donnelly signing and it was super small and everyone was so quiet and nobody was talking at all sooo I sat there alone but definitely chatted her and the booksellers up.

    In short, I’m probably annoying. I’m like HI PEOPLE!!! LET’S BE FRIENDS. Very very outgoing during these things!

  25. I’ve only been to one book event, and I think it was a disaster when I was talking with the author. I was so awkward. But I spent the whole time waiting for the author with my friend.

    But I do hope you get past the shyness! I mean, Ashley, your business cards are amazing, and I just want to have them myself. And you’re in London, so there are probably tons of events. Drag your boyfriend to one of them so he can give you that confidence boost. Or go with a friend. Tell us how your next author event goes!

    Shannelle C. recently posted: Half-Stars and Math
    1. Haha, I actually did drag my boyfriend to a Cassandra Clare signing. Then I felt bad because we were probably in line over 2 hours. He was such a trooper! (and probably the only male there)

  26. This is the story of my life. I almost hate going to book events without someone with me because I act exactly like that. I’m awful at starting conversations. I’ve been to two author events alone. One of them worked out pretty well because the author was very talkative and it was low-key event. She helped me open up and talk. I was SUPER awkward at the second one. I had no idea what to say to anyone. I took my boyfriend with me when I went to a John Green event, but that was just as bad. We didn’t talk to anyone, but each other. He clearly didn’t want to be there. We just sat there, got a signature, and went home.

    I went with some friends to YALLFEST last year. That was so much better. My plan from now on is to bring along someone (who isn’t my boyfriend).

    Laura Ashlee recently posted: Graphic Novel Review: The Cute Girl Network
  27. I’m extremely lucky, because most of the time, when I do head to a signing, I always end up running into someone I already know! At the times when I’m on my own though, I end up being very introverted and shy. I’m not like that around the authors (where I turn into a flaily, babbly mess), but I am like that with other people there for the signing.

  28. I get super excited, then once I finally get to the author my mind just goes blank, I’m either really quiet or I babble and go all red. It’s really embarrassing, I also tend to waffle/stutter when I’m nervous so even if I’ve got a perfectly planned conversation in my head, it’s nothing like that when I finally speak! I don’t know how people do it!

  29. That’s so funny. I feel the same way! Which is ridiculous since I am a crazy outgoing and talkative person but for some reason when it comes to these things I just freeze up! 🙁 #Fail.

  30. Loved this. Couldn’t have said it better, myself. So excited at first, the visual keeping me awake at night … then the close it gets, the more nervous, as I remember how much of an introvert I am. Starting conversations and small talk – I am the worst!

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