How do I order Coraline from Cody's or B&N before the signings and make sure you sign it???
I'm gonna be in NY - but i'm gonna miss your tour. Pleeeeeeaaase post an answer when i can still order the book...
your dedicated fan (a bit of flattery can work sometimes...)
Easy. With a very few exceptions, you can do this with any author doing a signing at any store. Telephone or e-mail the store in question. Say "Milton X. Vondegarde will be signing in your store. I can't make it to the signing. Can I reserve a signed copy? can it be personalised to me?" And the person on the other end of the phone, or at the other end of the e-mail will normally say yes. You give them a credit card number and spell your name (or the name of the person you want the book dedicated to) and you're done. Either you'll pick up the book, or you pay postage.
Don't dictate a long message you want the author to inscribe on the lines of, "Dear Hermione, while we have never met your dear friend Ernest (you remember, the hatmaker from Dundee, red hair, can't pronounce his Ws) wanted me to personalise this book to you, and tell you that I wish you all the very best in your career as an artist and he hopes that your cold is doing better. Also please pay particular attention to chapter ten because it makes the whole point about the relationship between men and women better than he ever managed during that argument in Vancouver. Yours, Neil Gaiman." A name, spelled correctly, is enough.