How should an author respond to an eager fan who inappropriately requests an autograph?
An author’s behavior at a public event should not go over the top even if your reader’s behavior does.
People in the public eye–like movie stars, pop musicians, and yes, even authors–sometimes have to deal with over-exuberant fans whose behavior goes over the top.
A book author goes into a restroom stall only to have an eager fan pass a book under the door, requesting an autograph.
I’ve heard stories like this from several authors and I’ve even witnessed it, myself. It happens more often than you might think. The person requesting the autograph probably likes your work and means well. They are not trying to be difficult or offensive; most likely they are excited about seeing you and in their eagerness, they say the wrong thing.
How should an author handle this?
You could smile and say something like, “Sorry, I’m busy.” Or even just one word, “Sorry,” would suffice.
Perhaps you have a quick sense of humor and could come up with something funny, yet non-offensive to your fan, indicating that now is not a good time.
How not to handle this
But by all means never, ever give in to the temptation to retort with a nasty put-down or criticism of the person. Any public interaction with a fan can be handled firmly and politely; it is not necessary to go for the jugular. (And yes, behavior in a crowded restroom is indeed a public interaction.)
I’m sharing a real-life story of bad author behavior at a public event, as well as the possible career ramifications as a result, in my article, Author Autograph: A Case Study.
Copyright 2006 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.