Terry Pratchett's advice to booksellers



The UZI ladies cracked me. :joy:


I know Pratchett was always gracious and considerate, and I’d advise touring authors to follow his example. Most do, but a few authors let fame go to their heads. A friend of mine worked at an independent bookstore. A bestselling author came promoting his latest book. She picked him up at the airport. He looked at her Honda and said, “You didn’t send a limo to pick me up? DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”

That set the tone for the rest of his time there.


The Earl of Longford,an eccentric figure in 1970s Britain, wrote a book called Humility - and marched into a bookshop in Hampstead to complain that it was not being given enough publicity in the window. (The Daily Telegraph mentioned it in its obit - but I can vouch for the story having worked with someone who was there when it happened.)


I have zero fame and my books sell worse than medieval Latin Saints Lives. But I’ve done a couple local signings, and yeah, they’re rarely a hoot. The bloom wears off on that rose mighty fast. I would add a suggestion to those getting your book signed who already know the author socially: Tell the author, “Inscribe it to XXX,” even if you had the author as a professor in 1999. I’m always terrified of ruining the book by inscribing it to “Darla” when the the person’s name is really Mary, and Darla was the other blond girl who sat next to her in my intro to comp course. And if the author says “how do you want this inscribed?” don’t say “To me!” That’s a polite way of saying “You expect me to know who the hell you are, but I haven’t a clue.” And if the author says “How do you spell that?” don’t look like he’s an idiot, because he’s seen six different people in his career named Darla, Darlah, Da’rla, Dharla, Tderla, and Daalah. He’s trying to remember which weird-ass spelling of your name your parents saddled you with.


David Sedaris does great book signings. For his signings you write down the names you want inscribed and hand him the paper. He also has a no photography rule.

The one time i had a book signed, I offered to spell my funky foreign name and he just figured it out on his own. He was showing off slightly, but I was impressed.

Just in case you never saw it, there’s a great author video on book siginings.

“Yes, of course we know who you are. That’s why we didn’t send a limo.”

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