Thursday, July 14, 2016

To Event or Not to Event, by Christine DePetrillo

Do you participate in book signing events as an author and/or a reader? I go to them as an author, but not as a reader. Is that weird? I’m an avid reader. I eat books. If someone said you can only have books or chocolate, but not both, I’d pick books… about chocolate. Just kidding.


Seriously though, why is it that I feel compelled to haul myself to book signing events to sell and sign my own books, but don’t salivate over the possibility of attending such events to gush over my favorite authors? I have a million of them. This is kind of a mystery to me. I’d like to get to the bottom of it. Someday.

In the meantime, here are my top five reasons to attend book signing events as an author:

1. To meet fabulous readers in person – I can’t tell you how much joy it gives me to be in the presence of people who have read my books and have liked—maybe even loved—them. People who want to follow my characters as they fall in love. These people are the reasons why I continue to write. Without them, I’d have lost my writing fuel a long time ago. A big thanks to all readers!

2. To get my books in new readers’ handsThis is about promoting and marketing. Sure, I love my current readers, but I’ve got a heart big enough to accommodate MORE readers. I want them to enjoy my work, get sucked in, and anxiously wait for my new books. I’ll admit it – I want FANS!

3. To scout out what other authors are writing – I snoop at book signing events. I peruse the other authors’ tables to see what they think makes a good book. Sometimes I agree. Sometimes I don’t. But at the end of the event, I’ve got a finger on the pulse of what other writers are producing. I’ve also been watching which tables get the most traffic and ponder the whys of it. I like to learn from these events as much as I like to sell and sign stuff.

4. To role play – I’ll admit it, my life as an elementary teacher is fairly “ordinary.” When I attend these book signing events, however, I get to be a Romance Novelist. It’s kind of sexy and mysterious and attendees are wondering, “Where does she get her ideas? Has she done some of the things in her books? What kind of research did she have to do to get that scene right? Are Black Wolf Tavern and The Clumsy Grasshopper real bars?” I get to put on another hat and play for a few hours. It’s fun!

5. To goof around with fellow authors – This might be my favorite part of book signing events. Writing is a solitary endeavor. It’s just me, my laptop, and some cuddly pets for most of the journey. I interact a bit with my editor and cover artist. I bounce ideas off of critique partners. But essentially I’m alone in my process, talking to my fictional characters, who quite surprisingly, answer me back on a regular basis. I attend book signing events to connect and be surrounded by other folks who “get” what it means to be an author. Not everyone does, you know. Plus, I’ve made some great author friends whose antics at these events I wouldn’t miss. (Like, I leave some of these shindigs with a stomachache from laughing so hard. Ask author Heather Rigney of The Merrow Trilogy. She’ll corroborate.)
So those are the reasons I hop on board the book signing party train as an author every now and then. Maybe one of these days I’ll go to one purely as a reader. Give that whirl and see what happens.

What are your thoughts on book signing events? Yay? Nay? Only if you’re forced to? Not if you’re life depended on it? Once a year? As often as possible? Only as an author? Only as a reader?


The Maple Leaf Series, Books One to Six, available now. Book One is FREE in ebook. Always.

SAFE, The Shielded Series, Book One, coming soon. 


Andrea Downing said...

I love signing for the same reasons as you but, like you, I don't generally attend as a reader. I think the reason, for me anyway, is that I am so bombarded with book ads from Amazon and Book Bub & so on that my TBR list is unreasonably long--I'll be sitting up in my grave and reading at the current pace of clearing them. Soooo, I'm afraid to get many more.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Of course I want to sell books. We all do, but the comraderie with other authors and with readers is a primary reason I take part in book signings. This is a lonely, lonely business. Doesn't hurt my ego to, as you say, get to be the Romance Novelist either. That's always fun.

Jannine Gallant said...

I live in a small town with few book signings (other than mine), so I've never gone to one as a reader. After the first one, which every one I know turned out for, my signings have been less than exciting. (Apparently the novelty of Jannine the Romance Writer wore off!) So, I've given up on them. I wouldn't mind participating in a group signing in a larger area for the fun and camaraderie, though!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Just book-signed with 400 other authors at RwA. Strange experience. Venue is everything.

Leah St. James said...

I've done larger and smaller, including an outdoors signing one time (in the Shenandoah Mountains around Halloween) that was really, really COLD. I love them for all the reasons you mentioned. Great list, Chris.

Betsy Ashton said...

I love to join other writers at book signing events. I have three more scheduled this year. May be able to squeeze in one more.

Unlike Chris, I attend book talks given by my favorite writers. I too live in a smallish area, but this year it's celebrated its 50th year of existence. (I live at Smith Mountain Lake, which reached "full pond" 50 years ago.) My arts council sponsored three NYT best selling authors -- Kathleen Grissom (The Kitchen House), Sharyn McCrumb, and Diane Fanning (true crime and historical mysteries). I went to all of the talks. (Okay, truth telling time. I know each of these wonderful writers personally and count them as great friends.) And when I gave a book talk not too long ago, Diane Fanning took time out to come hear me.

Alicia Dean said...

Hmmm, I hadn't thought about this before, but I actually DO like to attend as a reader. If it's one of my favorite authors, I go a little 'fan-girl' :) I love your reasons for doing a book signing, though. Very well said!

Barbara Edwards said...

One of the reasons I love the RWA conference is the literacy book-signing and the chance to browse hundreds of new authors work.

Diane Burton said...

I just went to a booksigning with 40 authors last Saturday. What fun to see what they do to promote themselves. Not just bookmarks and other swag but banners! Holy cow! Banners on stands or attached to the table front. Authors who had Square to take credit card payments. All was eye-opening. I love meeting new people, authors and readers. Of course, I have another identity: Liz's mother. LOL She'd told friends of hers to visit. Margo and I are doing a signing in Sept. It's so much fun to go to events with another author.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I'll sign books wherever I can. There are quite a few multi-art events in AZ and a few book only events. It's fun and I love interacting with readers. I'm doing a large one next weekend in Payson. But oddly enough, I haven't noticed any for authors I'd go to see. Hmmm...I need to check out if there are any.