Author Tips

Actually, no – it’s not our tips for you lot, it’s what you can tip us.

American humourist (or do I have to say humorist?) David Sedaris has revealed an interesting money-making tip for authors in an interview with the National Post.

Sedaris says he left a tip jar on his signing table at a book tour and made a grand total of $4,000. At the end of his “best evening”, in Dallas, he said, he made $530. “I told people it was all for me to spend on candy,” he explained. “They were delighted because it’s funny to give money to someone who doesn’t need it.”

But there was a downside to the lucrative venture which eventually stopped Sedaris continuing, as he explained. “The problem was then I started hating people who didn’t tip me,” he said. “I didn’t say anything to them, but I would just sit there thinking, ‘You cheap son of a bitch. I just signed four books and you can’t even give me a dollar?’ And why should they? But I just got so involved in it.”

I wonder how well this would go down on author book tours? Can you imagine a line of authors at a convention just flipping over their hats and making puppy-dog eyes at you until you hand over money? Maybe it’s the future in a shaky publishing climate.

Personally, I accept all major credit cards.

Or just beer.

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About Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.


  1. Good signing etiquette (COUGH – link: http://www.pornokitsch.com/2009/06/10-tips-for-behavior-at-booksignings.html) is that you should always have one of the author’s latest books at a signing. Which (royalties pending) is essentially the tip – you’re acknowledging the author’s commercial requirements while fulfilling your own collecting/fannish needs.

    It is nice. Everyone wins. And the worst case scenario is you wind up with four signed copies of CITY OF RUIN which you can give to your friends at Christmas.

    Granted, if you hassle an author with 40 copies of their old books that you then put on eBay a tip (or a percentage) is more than deserved.

    Not sure where I’m going with this. Even Sedaris realized he was being ridiculous. The end.

  2. How about I write you a personal cheque? Haha.

    As for the tip jar then that is a good idea if more people knew about the instability of things to do with the industry. May even be worthwhile setting up a charity for publishers!

  3. And there was me offering to pay people to come to my signings. Obviously I have it the wrong way round…

  4. Jared – how could I forget your amazing etiquette guide? I think you’re right – buying a copy at the signing is probably the best thing to do and covers that base of ‘tips’ quite nicely.

    I do remember seeing Terry Pratchett sign once: a few chaps came at the end with 30-odd first editions, and he patiently went through and signed them all.

    Andy – cheques will do nicely. 🙂

    Tim – usually stores pay/bribe readers with wine and nibbles (if they’re doing it right!)

  5. I am always impressed by the authors that politely sit through the 30-odd books at the end. That’s not particularly fair to the venue as well… I guess in a few cases, everyone has discussed it & agreed it in advance (it seems that most of the reputable dealers know the authors well), but, yikes.