“Now I Understand Why She’s a Multimillionaire” — Children’s Author Refuses to Sign Older Book

"No one should be made to feel they have to buy a new one."

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

May 21 2024, Published 2:22 p.m. ET

Author Refuses to Sign Children's Book, Internet Piles on Hate
Source: Getty Images; X | @monisha_rajesh

An high-profile but unnamed children's book author is getting slammed on X (formerly Twitter) by a fellow writer for refusing to sign an older print copy of one of her books. The worst part? The famed author denied a child their signature.

This, presumably, is a tactic employed by the author and their publisher to ensure that folks are purchasing newer copies and reprints of her work.

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Monisha Rajesh (@monisha_rajesh) asked other writers on the popular social media platform if they have this same stipulation when fans of their work come to visit them. Looking at the swarm of replies that came in response to her post, it seems like none of them did.

"Question for authors: when readers come up after a ticketed event do you sign old copies of their books or only the ones they’ve just bought after the event? Just had a v well-known children’s author refuse to sign an old book," Rajesh posted on X about her experience at an author's book signing event.

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Source: X | @monisha_rajesh

Judging from the responses that Monisha received from numerous folks who responded to her tweet, it seems that it's really not par the course for authors to refuse folks who attend readings or book-signing events just because they approached them with an older print of their titles.

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Food writer Nigella Lawson wrote that she never makes fans she meets feel the need to have to purchase a new print/copy of a book just so she can sign it: "I always sign old books people bring from home. No one should be made to feel they have to buy a new one."

Monisha said that she's never made a fan of her work feel like they needed to buy a new book either and that she actually prefers to see someone pulling out a tattered copy of an older print of one of her works: "Same. In fact I’m more thrilled when they pull out a battered copy with the pages falling out."

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Writer Jason Okundaye also wrote back that he's never even thought about checking the copy of a person's book when he was signing it and remarked it was rather off of the author to do that: "I don’t think I’ve ever paid attention to whether it’s an old or just bought copy, what a weird thing to do."

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In a response to Jason, Monisha highlighted how the story somehow ended up being sadder than an author denying a fan a signature because they brought forth an old book — she said that she brought her 7-year-old daughter to meet the children's book author, only for them to turn her away because she wasn't holding a new printed copy.

Joanne Harris said that while she doesn't refuse to sign older copies of her works, there are some non-negotiable hard stops she won't budge on when it comes to putting down her John Hancock: "I’ve always accepted to sign anything within reason ( I did once refuse to sign a baby:-)"

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Another X user shared their experience with another author and how grimy they thought it was on the writer's part to deny Monisha and her daughter a signature: "As a patron, Sarah Waters signed my incredibly battered copy of Tipping the Velvet without raising an eyebrow. The dedication says 'glad you enjoyed it!' Seems incredibly mean-spirited to disregard that part of your readership."

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Monisha added that the event for the writer in question wasn't even thrown to promote a new book or anything ... they just simply wouldn't sign an older copy of the book: "I was pretty gobsmacked to be honest. I sign everything people bring me. I mean, they’ve all been paid for and the event wasn’t about a new book. Never meet your heroes I guess."

Another user on the app shared how this kind of behavior could ultimately turn a person away from an artist's work and despite previously enjoying that book, taking a look at it after that interaction would be a reminder every single time of the author's behavior.

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"Imagine taking a long-cherished copy of a book for the author to sign, and he refuses as it isn't fresh income? I suspect that book would be a little less cherished afterwards, and that's really sad," they said.

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Someone else said that this type of behavior comes off as even more mean-spirited since it's coming from a children's book author: "That seems so mean-spirited and entitled ... they will have benefitted from the book sale whenever it was and should appreciate long-standing fans. Somehow even meaner from a children's author."

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When another commenter who jumped into Monisha's X thread about the incident asked if the author outright refused to sign the books or simply looked annoyed, Monisha said: "She said pointedly 'did no one tell you I can’t sign old books?' Then sent the young woman by her table to tell the queue behind. I’m an author too, I’m very aware of how this works."

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like it was a bad idea to meet one of your heroes because they let you down so badly? Do you think it was grimy of the author in question to make that comment to Monisha in front of her kid?

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