Recently, Cynthia Leitich Smith posted an excellent guide to speaking at author events; I've been meaning to link to it, and have finally gotten to it here! Additional strategies were discussed in the comments thread to that post.
Multi-author events have come to be my favorite. In fact,
at the launch party for my second book--which was technically a solo
event--I invited any authors who were able to attend to display and sign
their books, too. I try to participate in group rather than solo events
whenever possible. It's more fun for the authors as well as the
At author events where I speak (instead of just signing
books or reading an excerpt), I try to give readers some backstage peek
they might not get from just reading the book (following advice I read
once in a book by Nikki Giovanni--advice she followed herself when I saw
her speak at the Philadelphia Free Library).
Most local author
events do not have great mobs of people, which means that if your
favorite author is appearing near you, you just might have the chance to
chat for a little while. I did one signing where a young writer and fan
of the author sitting next to me got to talk to that author for a good
half hour about writing tips, favorite books, the author's motivation
and writing process, etc. I can't promise you that this will happen. It
is not likely to happen if, for example, your favorite author has been
camped out on the bestseller list, and movies have been made from
his/her books, and you have seen him/her interviewed on TV. In that
case, you are likely to wait in line for a book signature. But most
authors don't fall into that category: many of us have time to answer a
few questions and chat a bit.
My favorite events of all are
meetings with book clubs who have read either of my books. I am
consistently wowed by the insight, enthusiasm, and intelligence that
people bring to these discussions.
I'm a little envious of
today's young readers, who have online forums, blogs, chats, and videos.
I would have loved to have a community of fellow readers at my
fingertips when I was growing up. And while I imagine authors were
touring back then, I never heard of any author events near me. I didn't
attend my first author events until adulthood. But I'm making up for it