Thursday, December 17, 2015

Going to a Book Signing??

If you’re like me, you love to do fun and exciting things, but sometimes you wish you could get a dossier on how they work. I work at a book store and have helped to host author events and I still get apprehensive about attending one as a reader because omg what happens at one of these things!?

So let’s start off with…

Why Go To an Author Event ?
  • They’re fun!
  • You can get your book signed, which is so special. The person who wrote those words and created that story is there to sign your book. So cool.
  • Events support bookstores and we really need to support brick and mortar stores. We don’t want them on the endangered species list.
  • Events support authors. As fun as these events can be, the author is there to sell their book. And if we, as the readers, want more books, we need to buy buy buy! (And then tell everyone you know about the books you love. Please!)
  • You can meet other readers! Now, admittedly, I am not the best at this because I’m kind of shy in these situations, but one time I “met” someone on twitter while waiting and I think that totally counts. But seriously, have you ever felt like no one else “gets” it? Like, I LOVE some books and it’s nice to be in a room with other readers who are just as crazy excited as I am.
  • Sometimes (not always) you get extra little perks for coming in person to see an author. These can range from a bookmark to a special reading from an upcoming work to advice on writing. Just keep in mind that sometimes events are too large or busy for these extras, but really, a signed book is special enough.

What Exactly Happens at an Event?
This is going to be tough to answer because they’re all so different. Let’s start from the simplest to the more complex.
  • The majority of the events we host at my bookstore involve an author sitting at a table with a pile of their books. We make announcements when we can, but usually it’s curious customers or fans who follow the author online and come in. A lot of these events are from local authors and are not necessarily set up by the publisher. These are great opportunities to get older books signed and to talk to the author about their works.
  • A panel is another popular type of event. For these, 2+ authors will each speak (maybe give a reading of their newest work), answer questions, or just chat and talk about their books/life/writing. Then, the audience can pick up the books they want and get a bunch of signed at once! These types of events are great because you get more bang for your buck (where ‘buck’=time).
  • The next level, if you will, of book signings involve getting a number before it starts, which indicates your place in line. Generally, the author(s) will give a short presentation (just like with the panel type of signing) with readings and/or questions and then the attendees form a line with their numbers to get their books signed. You still get a moment with the author(s) and they will usually personalize your book, but these events have A LOT of attendees so it moves a little quicker. (But don’t fret! I went to the signing for THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan and they were so gracious with their time! I got a personalized book, a photo, and time to discuss the UK.)
  • Festivals. I’ve only been to the National Book Festival many years ago with my sister when it was on the Mall in DC to get Harry Turtledove’s autograph for my brother-in-law. Recently I went to the NoVa Teen Book Festival put on by One More Page Books in Arlington, VA. This event is set up with several events happening at once so you can plan your day. It was organized from a panel level in the auditorium down to intimate Q+As with authors. Festivals and book conferences are awesome because of the hugely well known authors who attend, but they are busy and crowded. If anyone has been to more festivals and conferences than I have, please let me know and I’ll include your advice! It will also depend at these how the signing part will go. At the NBF, the lines are insane and you can't feasibly see everyone. At the NTBF, which is much smaller, they set the authors up in the cafeteria at the school and you could go around to whomever you wanted!
  • Even though more people probably attend festivals and conferences, I am putting ticketed/wristband events at the more complex level. My store recently hosted Rick Riordan who is so wildly popular that one family came all the way from Utah to Virginia for it. We actually didn’t sell tickets to the event- attendees had to buy the book when it came out to get a wristband and then the event was two days later. Another way to handle this type of author is to sell tickets to the event which usually includes admittance and the book. Keep in mind, though, that a lot of times there is not a line to meet the author. Our Rick Riordan event  was a presentation and then you picked up your signed book afterwards. (Just a note: he does this so more people can see him.)

  • Do I have to buy my book at the event?
    • Wellllllllllll, gray area here. Remember that the event is for the success of the author and the bookstore so yes, please buy your book there. BUT I get it that sometimes you might already own the book and if the author is taking the time to sign the books you already own-awesome! But please buy something else-hopefully by that author!
    • That said, depending on the event, it may be required that you buy the book from the host. Typically that information will be provided on the event page, but when in doubt, call the store.
  • May I bring older books to be signed?
    • Sometimes. Generally, the larger the event, the less likely it is that the author will have time to sign your older books. I’d probably either ask the author on twitter or call the store (but they might not know!).
    • My advice for this is to find out what bookstore your favorite authors love because a lot of times, they’ll sign stock there. I get all of my new Maggie Stiefvater books signed just by pre-ordering them from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA. Sara Raasch and Lisa Maxwell often sign books at the Fairfax, VA Barnes & Noble.
  • Do I buy my book before or after it’s signed?
    • Depends. (Are you sick of that answer yet?) If your book is your ticket for a place in line, then buy it before, but if the author has stacks of books on the table and a more casual line/audience, then you should be fine purchasing it after.
  • What do I do before the event begins?
    • Waiting can be the worst, eh? Like I said, I can be kind of shy, so if I’m there alone, I check out twitter or use my time wisely and read.
    • It’s also a good time to scope out the best spot if there’s going to be a presentation or to get in line for an earlier number for the line.
    • Or just pick up more books to buy. Always a good idea.
  • What do I do after the event?
    • I usually like to hug my book and then tell everyone I know to read it.

So I hope that helps some. Feel free to ask any other questions and I’ll do my best to answer or to find the answer. Reach me on twitter for the fastest response:)

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