Friday, April 27, 2012

Learning through Author Events!

I just finished my first round of author signings on The Words of Wonder  Book Tour and thought to share what I learned and pick your brains on what you, as readers, hope to encounter when going to an author event.

My shortlist of lessons learned:

1.  Team up with other authors if you can!  I joined forces with J. Anderson Coats, author of THE WICKED AND THE JUST and Anne Nesbet, author of THE CABINET OF EARTHS.  (If you haven't already, these are fabulous books, so mark them on your to-read list!)

Having a team event relieved the pressure of all-eyes-on-me that I would have dreaded.  Besides that, it was incredibly FUN to meet these ladies and talk writing, publishing, and all the rest with them.

2.  Invite family and friends.  Given that we are all debut authors, it was wonderful to have some friendly faces show up at our signings.  Event numbers can be hit or miss, so knowing that you're guaranteed a few enthusiastic readers is a plus.

3.  Have a giveaway.  We put together a little basket with some swag, candy, and some of our absent tour-member's books to give out.  Not only was it fun to put together, but having the giveaway in the middle of the event gave some variety to our presentation.

4.  Figure out a creative way to do readings.  While your attendees may be expecting to hear a passage from you book, expect that they will (or have) read it.  I've been to signings where authors read from new or old projects (something I've always appreciated).  We decided to do a popcorn style reading where audience members called out a page number and we each read a sentence from our book in a beautiful, poetic, mashup.

5.  Have a general idea of talking points, but keep it flexible.  We found that this varied a great deal depending on our audience.  One signing was very interactive, with lots of reader-generated Q&A.  Other times, it was up to us to carry the flow of the conversation, so it was nice to have some things we knew we wanted to share.

6.  Have fun!  In the end, the numbers don't matter too much (though we all cringe at the thought of the two-people-show-up signing), but the opportunity to get together with other like-minded folks who love books and writing is a gift.  Enjoy it!

Okay, now it's your turn.  What do you love or hate at author signings?  What do you (or would you) do at a signing?  For readers, what are some memorable moments of signings you've attended?


  1. First off, what a cool trio. Did you guys come to Portland? If so, how the heck did I miss it???!!!!

    Cool things at book signings: SWAG. I'll never forget the look on my then 5th-grader's face when Rick Riordan called out his name as the winner of one of the Percy Jackson t-shirts during his reading here in P-town. (Dad was equally thrilled.)

    I love the idea of your popcorn style reading. Very inventive!!

  2. I'll let you know if we ever make it down to Portland! Would love to visit Powell's! :)

  3. I liked the popcorn-style reading, too.

    Thanks for some great ideas!

  4. Teaming up is so key. Otherwise you feel just sort of lonely sitting behind a desk by yourself! We also found it helpful to get out in front of the table sometimes, as strangers approaching a few authors can be intimidating for them!

  5. Great advice, Marissa. Another thing to note is that SCHOOLS LOVE AUTHORS! International schools, especially. When I have a paid event, I always try to visit state or public schools that can never afford to have visiting authors. But any school is a great venue. Not only do you give teachers and kids a break from a long day of lessons, you also get kids interested, maybe even turn them on to something new- YOU!... and they always tell friends! I'm doing a cross-curriculum project with a school in NJ that is using my book as the template! It's so exciting! With international schools, you get kids who move all over the world sharing your book with friends, well, all over the world. Go global, I say!!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!