What do you do when someone comes to a sponsored event (like a bookstore) and asks you to sign a book they've purchased elsewhere? This great question was posted on Carol Hoenig's blog-Authors Behaving Badly: What not to do at your book signing event).
When my book first came out (Noah's Wife) I was so excited that poor check-out clerks at Wal-mart had to endure me talking about it and presenting them with a business card. I wanted to stop everyone I passed on the street and share the excitement I felt. For so many years I had written in that secluded and uneasy place where only the love of writing, the joy of learning the craft and HOPE kept me going. I recently spoke to a high-school/freshman college class, and I brought my rejection folder as show-and-tell. It is a large expandable file that is so stuffed, papers are bulging out of it. I held it up and said, "Every piece of paper in here is a rejection." At this age students are too cool (or too afraid of not appearing cool) to actually speak out loud, but I saw their eyes widen.
Into that momentarily space of their attention, I said, "At every rejection, I fell into a dark, lonely hole and the only way out of that hole was...to write more. I kept reminding myself--THE ONLY WAY TO INSURE FAILTURE IS TO QUIT TRYING." I wrote six novels before this one got published. It's now won a national award, but the doubt never goes away. What about the next one? What if it isn't as good? What if I disappoint people?
We just have to keep going through the doubt.
Whoops, I have written all this and not exactly answered the question that started it. If someone brings you a book to sign, regardless of where it came from, you sign it of course, with graciousness and express the sincere pleasure of meeting someone who cared enough about what you wrote to want to have your signature and meet you. (The bookstore should be glad to get someone in their door, for whatever reason.) You also bite your tongue when someone tells you how much they loved it and that they are passing their copy of your book to all their friends and relatives! LOL. That's a hard one, but remember, it's about relationships, and if all those friends and relatives also love the story, they will tell their friends and relatives and look for your next book. And remember, you are now privileged, humbled and grateful to experience the fruition of being a writer--greatest miracle of all--the story that you labored on for so long, that was conceived in the womb of your mind, is now out there in the world, alive in other minds.