I’m off to Denver for the big Book Bonanza signing and thinking about the various author signings. They are getting more and more popular for authors, and sprouting up in so many states, authors now have a huge selection to pick from.
I try to do my best to hit different geographical locations each year so I can meet the most readers possible. This past year, I’ve already done Rome, this week is Denver, and in September I’ll be in NYC and Kentucky.
Signings can get expensive, though, so authors need to be careful about which ones they decide on, and why. Most of the time, financially, I come out in the hole. Even if there are no table fees (but the majority DO have fees), and the books I sell, the amount for plane fare, taxis, eating, and miscellaneous (like the famous bar bill lol!) is way over what I make in book royalties. Also, my time away from my office is expensive. I could be using those days to write a new book, which is the fastest and most economical way to make more money in a writing career. I’m old now, too, so when I return, I usually need a minimum of 2-3 days of downtime, shoveling out from my administrative duties before I can even think about getting back to writing.
So, what do I really get back from attending an author signing?
Let’s go over them.
Most signings will have other authors attending who will make you fan girl. One of the best parts is scrambling around to each table, getting to meet so many authors face-to-face and get your own signed books and swag. There are usually dinners or reader parties so you get to network, meet new people, and get a fresh vision of the writing world. I always come home with a bunch of new friends I adore, my Facebook friend list explodes, and I read new work from authors I haven’t tried before. Plus, you get to meet all your old friends from before, and catch up. Everyone is always super friendly and welcome, and even if you’re going alone and are afraid to leave your room, if you take a deep breath and just go out there, I promise you won’t regret it.
I love to use author signings to see places I’ve never been before. It’s a tax write-off, you can take your assistant or a friend/spouse/child to be your assistant, and tack on a few days in the front or back of the signing for vacation. I’ve been to places I would have never chosen and am really grateful. Also, make sure you actually leave the hotel. Book some type of tour or sight seeing thing, and make sure you go out to dinner or lunch to experience the local cuisine. Grab a few authors you’ve never hung out with and tag along. I’ve met the coolest people that way!
Simply put, meeting my readers is a priceless experience. I write in isolation, for a nameless, faceless public. But when I get to see a reader up close, my mind is blown. When she thanks me for my stories, or excitedly squeals about which books are her favorite, or shyly asks to take a picture, or apologizes for carting around a box of dog eared, well-loved backlist books for me to sign?
It’s the coolest thing in the entire world. Not gonna lie. I get all mushy and happy inside. Suddenly, all those hours of struggling with my character and my stories are worth it. Suddenly, I’m not worried about my sales, or if my latest book is tanking, or if I’ll be able to wrestle my current story into submission. I’m just humbled that a real live person is freaking out over a book I wrote. It gives me a reset in my mind. It motivates me to keep going and do better, because I just met a person who is reading my stuff and my stories are important to her.
There is nothing more inspirational than talking to readers.
This past month when I travelled to Rome, my husband was my assistant. Afterward, slumped in the chair, hand numb, exhausted beyond measure for signing for more than eight straight hours, he looked at me with a new expression on his face I’ve never seen before.
“I think I took 300 pictures of you,” he said in awe, shaking his head. “I saw a reader cry. And you got gifts! Good gifts! They love you.”
He got to see the Coliseum and the Vatican and eat pasta and pizza and stroll the ancient streets. But when I asked him what his favorite part was, he told me the signing, because he’d never experienced something that amazing. He was proud of me.
Pretty damn cool, huh?
OH, and trust me, I’ve also been the author who doesn’t have a line, sitting there with a big ass smile on my face while the author’s line beside me backs up in front of my table. But I got to talk to the people waiting in line and many of them bought my book! And the handful of people who did show up specifically to see me were gold. They kept me writing. Personal conversations and reader experiences remind us of why we are doing this.
Now, a few tips for the readers who come to this.
Yes, we are tired, and have signed endless books, but when you get to my table, I’m meeting you for the first time. I AM excited. I AM humbled. I AM grateful you read my books. I LOVE fangirling and LOVE talking about my books! Tell me your favorite couple, or book, or series. Ask me questions. Give me a hug (I’m Italian we hug everyone). Take a pic. Tag me on Facebook. Tag me everywhere.
This is why I’m here – for YOU. When you drag in that carton of books and apologize profusely, I’m in sheer heaven. I love signing your books. I love interacting with you. I wish I had more time, but I will make sure I use those precious few minutes the best way possible, so you feel special.
Because, my readers, all of you are.
After all, you made my dream come true.
Sign on, peeps.