At a recent meeting of several publishers, editors and book store personnel, we heard an earful about authors who do not honor their commitments to appear at booksignings. In some instances, the author submitted their photographs and biographical information and the stores issued press releases to local media; placed the author on promotional literature in the store, which was picked up by book clubs and store patrons; and sometimes posters were developed in-house advertising the author's upcoming appearance.
Then the author does not show.
Sometimes the author will call or email and tell the store that they are backing out. The excuses range from no excuse at all... to they didn't feel like making the trip... to a legitimate emergency. When it's an emergency, the store understands and will usually try to reschedule the appearance. But when there is no excuse given at all or the author backs out because they didn't feel like it or they got what they believe is a better deal elsewhere, it hurts not only that author but other authors trying to get an appearance in that store.
Authors who have been in this industry for any length of time know that every commitment reflects on their professionalism and ultimately, their image.
Authors who are new in this industry often do not realize just how small a community this is, and how long the memories.
To be sure, there are a host of problems from the other side as well: book stores who don't order the books for the signing, or who fail to tell anyone else in the store or out of it that there is a signing... And publishers are trying to work with those venues to make things easier and smoother.
But when it's the author who simply does not show up or provides a flimsy excuse at the 11th hour, it reflects very poorly on that author, on their publisher or publicist, and impacts other authors. Book signings and appearances are like any "real" job. Would you take a job as an account executive, for example, allow your boss to schedule you for a convention, and then fail to show up there? How long do you think your job would last if you kept doing this?
Why do some authors believe their commitments should be anything less?