It feels awful when an author declines to sign a book.
Just vile. You feel like you've bothered them and they'll clearly hate you forever now, and on top of that, you brought a book you loved across state lines, not just to have someone scribble on it, but to make a connection with the person who wrote it, someone who reached down to your heart and touched you. And now that connection is "Please?" "No."
Oh, god, it sucks. I almost cried, actually. And no, I'm not going to tell you who it was. But I stood there in the dealer's room, feeling like crap, feeling literally stung, fighting tears, because I was scheduled non stop and couldn't get to the official signing for this author, or reading, or anything, because I was scheduled opposite it all. And because the author's books meant so much to me, and I was sure I'd never, ever get to mend the mistake of asking for a signature. I'm not an autograph hound. I only get books signed if they're by a friend or desperately important to me. And it's the connection I want, not the signature.
I don't blame the author at all. They had every right to say no and I wish I could have gone to the official signing. The lesson was about choices I will make in the future. Everyone else has the right to make their own choices on these scores.
Up in my hotel room afterward, I made emilytheslayer witness my solemn vow:
No matter how tired or grumpy I am, I will never deny someone a signed book, no matter when they ask me.
I will never show them how tired and grumpy I am.
I will never forget that I wanted this, I worked so hard for it, and it's not a burden to have people track me down in the hall. It's an honor.
I will remember how bad it felt to have someone snap at me and say no, how ashamed and sorry I felt, and I will try my hardest never to make anyone else feel that way. I will remember that they want a connection with me, because they loved my book, and try to give it to them. I will try to always be accessible in all the ways that mean something (while keeping myself safe and sane.)
I will try as hard as I can to treat fans as I want to be treated as a fan.
Now, of course, that doesn't mean I'm perfect and that doesn't mean everybody is my best friend the first time we meet. It doesn't mean I'm super awesome at remembering everyone I've ever met. (Speaking of, will the Michael from Napierville who came to my kaffeeklastch please stand up? I want to email you!)
But I will try. And I will never say no when someone comes up to me with a hopeful look on their face and a book clutched in their hands.