Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Author Events: The readers speak up!

Introduction by Melissa Amster

As part of a recent giveaway, we asked our readers if they think of authors as celebrities. I believe that all but one replied with a resounding YES! I would definitely have to agree. I go to author events and get all starstruck. When Jennifer Weiner called me BY NAME in front of everyone at Sixth & I Synagogue in DC, I nearly fell off the bench I was sitting on. I almost forgot my question, I was that blown away!

I've been to several author events over the past few years. The first one was in 2005, to see an author I really liked. I was pregnant with my older son at the time and it was hot in the tight space we were standing in. However, it was so worth it to meet this author. I just realized that I should have brought a camera. When I went to see the author again in 2009, I came prepared and even took a picture for someone else who forgot their camera. (We became Facebook friends after that.) When the author spoke that time, they came off as conceited, saying they had spoken to bigger crowds than the one right before them. During my turn with the author, I told them about a name coincidence between my second child and someone in their family. They said "oh, I met him." The fact that the only other time this author ever saw me was when I was pregnant with my first child, made me realize how disconnected they are with their readers. While I still read this authors' books, I have no desire to go hear them speak again.

With Jane Green, Northvale, NJ, July 2009

On a positive note, when I was still living in New Jersey, I got to meet Jane Green at a book signing she was doing at an independent bookstore. She was a lovely speaker and I could have listened to her talk for hours...maybe even days! When we got to have our books signed, she saw I had a camera and took the time to have a picture taken together. Then she even commented (in a nice way) on my camera holder, which was a baby sock. Aside from that, the bookstore brought in Starbucks iced tea and frozen yogurt from a place nearby. It was a fun evening out (or as my friend and I called it..."our hot date.") Since then, we've connected via Facebook and she's visited Chick Lit Central a couple of times. She wrote a nice and personal comment on Twitter about how I gave her latest novel, Family Pictures, FIVE stars on Goodreads. I even chose her for the International Chick Lit Month Hall of Fame in 2012. Authors, like Jane Green, who are kind to their readers make it so worthwhile to go to book signings!

Last week, we asked authors what book signings are like for them. This week, we got the readers' perspective! Check out what some of our regular followers had to say about their experiences. We'd love feedback in the comments section sharing your experiences, as well! (Please leave out names if it's negative, as no two experiences are alike and I don't want to slander anyone.)

I have a bunch of author stories I can share, depending on what you need, I can tell you about the first time I met Jen Lancaster and she bought everyone some truffles--one dropped on the floor and who was I to let it go to waste so I picked it up and popped it into my mouth! Classy girl that I am, Jen and I became friends and I was acknowledged in her next book, "Pretty in Plaid!"

Or when I met Julie Buxbaum (The Opposite of Me, After You) at a signing (we had been corresponding previously via email) and she decided to go out for dinner and drinks with my friends and me afterward. A couple of her friends who were at the signing whispered something to her before we left for dinner. I asked her what they said, and she said, "Are you really going out with them -- you don't even know her!" Like I was a stalker fan going to kill her!

Or the first time I saw Emily Giffin at a signing and she asked if anyone had any questions. This was before she got really famous and she was at the library where her mother worked at Lisle, Illinois. When no one raised their hand to ask a question, I raised mine. When she pointed to me to ask my question, I asked, "How do I get a copy of that book?" It was her original ARC of Baby Proof.

She said, "This one?" and pointed to it.

I said, "That one."

She said, "Email me and I'll mail it to you."

I emailed her and sure enough, she mailed her original copy of Baby Proof to me. In it, it says, "For Stephanie, My BFF" And it's dated 3-21-2006.

Since then, she and I have kept in touch, and have exchanged family Christmas cards, and I've also had the pleasure of having margaritas and burritos with her!

I've taken my kids to book signings, and my oldest who was about 10 at the time asked Stephanie Klein to sign his leg, so all my kids had her sign body parts! She looked at me to make sure that was OK and I shrugged and said, "SURE, why not?!"

 - Stephanie Elliot a.k.a. Booking with Manic

I recently hosted an author/book release event in my area for Jane Porter.  She was promoting her new book, The Good Daughter, and asked if I’d be interested in getting a bunch of girlfriends together for a fun night of books, food and cocktails.  I had never hosted an author event in the past, but knew that it would be a lot of fun and something that my friends would really enjoy.  There were twenty of us all together, but Jane made an effort of talking to, and getting to know, each person individually.  She discussed her new book and the premise behind the Brennan Sister Series.  She even read one of her favorite excerpts from the book while everyone munched on traditional Irish food (which was appropriate since the book is based around an Irish Catholic family).  There were books available for purchase and many brought books from home for Jane to sign.  Everyone received a special Jane Porter bag filled with all sorts of goodies to take home at the conclusion of the evening.  All in all, the event was a huge success.  Everyone had a great time and it exceeded my expectations.  

-Marlene Engel

Marlene (left of Jane Porter in the black shirt with curly hair)
and lots of Jane Porter fans!

I love author events and have been known to drive over 6 hours for them in one day. Here are what I think makes them most memorable

• Author stories about their road to getting published. I recently went to s signing with Heather Gudenkauf and she passed around her rejection letters and spoke to the difficulty of getting published, but also the positivity of her agent and how great the people were. She stressed that there was rejection, yes, but you had to keep a thick skin and keep pushing!

• In my mind, a successful author event is organized and rewards people for being there early or on time. Passing out ticket numbers or having solid organization for moving from the speaking to the line for the signing is extremely important! I also hate when signings make you buy the book AT the signing. I tend to buy new books the day they come out and do not want to wait until the signing. I am 100% for supporting the bookseller that hosts the signing, but I want to buy the book early!

- Amber Johnson

I’ve actually had pretty good experiences with author events, including those of Jane Porter and Patti Callahan Henry. For Jane, I got to eat and have drinks with her because she actually came to my book club meeting. She signed everyone’s books (even her backlist), talked about her book (She’s Gone Country) and participated in the normal girl talk about kids, husbands and aging. I’ve been to a few of Patti’s events, because she’s local and it’s always a party. The last one I went to was at a hotel in midtown Atlanta, and just by pure chance, Betty White was sitting at the bar. So I got to say “hi” to her too! How cool is that?

The reality is, the bigger the author, the longer the line to meet and greet. It can get boring waiting in line for sometimes over an hour and being afraid to go get a drink for fear of losing your place. By the way, free wine is great, but free wine is usually cheap wine, so beware of the cheap-wine headache! I don’t know the answer to the line problem, because it obviously reflects the popularity of the author when so many people care to show up, which is fantastic. Maybe some sort of “take a number” system? At the end of the day, it’s all subjective. I recommend you consider who (and how popular) the author is, the venue, the distance traveled and your own desire to meet the author.

- Allie Smith

Amy with Emily Giffin, NYC, July 2012

When I was contacted by Chick Lit Central for this piece, I started thinking about all the author appearances I have gone to in the Atlanta area. The best experience of going to a book signing was the first one I went to for Kristin Hannah who was on tour at the time for Winter Garden. I went with a colleague to the Borders in Buckhead (the uptown district of Atlanta), GA. Although I got the time wrong for the start of the book signing, I got a chance meet some people in the area. One person I met while waiting which was totally unexpected was Emily Giffin. I really enjoyed hearing Kristin speak that night.

- Jencey Gortney

Here are some other experiences from our team (in case you missed them the first time):
Melissa A. meeting Jen Weiner in the DC area: July 2010
Amy meeting Jen Weiner in NYC: July 2011
Melissa P. meeting Jen Lancaster in Scottsdale, Arizona: May 2011
Amy meeting various authors at a special book event hosted by Wade Rouse in NYC: September 2011
Melissa A. meeting Jodi Picoult in DC: March 2012
Tracey meeting Rachel Bertsche in Chicago: January 2012

Now it's YOUR turn to share! Got any funny, crazy, or entertaining stories about meeting authors? Even a pleasant or not-so-pleasant one is fine here. (Just remember, no slander!)

1 comment:

Pauline Wiles said...

I have a couple of author events pencilled in my calendar but no funny stories, so far. Loved the anecdote of the fallen truffle!