Saturday, September 15, 2012

Live and in person

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 audience.

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 now!


  1. I would have LOVED to attend author events as a teen. My only childhood author visit was from a local poet, David Laszlo. He did a workshop with my third grade class. Instilled a huge love of poetry in me.