This summer, I finally dipped my toe into the wonderful world of author appearances. I spoke on a panel at Jordan Con, went to a local author event at my local library, and participated in B-Fest at Barnes and Noble. I’ve got to say, it’s kind of addictive. I’ve been on the lookout for author events ever since. Here’s a brief summary of each one.
I didn’t plan for this to be an author appearance. I went for Brandon Sanderson and a pitch panel. But while I was there I noticed a local author panel on the agenda, and asked the coordinator how I might get involved in the future. To my surprise, she invited me to participate that day. Fortunately, I had my books on hand (I’ve learned to always keep a box in my trunk, you’d really be surprised how often it’s come in handy).
It was a small gathering of people, but they had great questions (mostly about the publishing process), and I met a fantastic author named Michael J Allen (check out his books here) and a few other people from my hometown, Columbus Georgia, which was a nice surprise (Jordan Con was in Atlanta).
All in all, this was the perfect panel to break the ice with this whole in person thing. I didn’t have time to get nervous, there weren’t a lot of people so it was really more conversational than speechish, and I met some great people. I’ve already talked to them about going back next year.
My library held an ice cream social meet and greet for people to meet local authors. This was a bit more crowded. There were four authors, counting myself, so people would go table to table, eating ice cream and talking. Again, most of the questions were on writing in general, but that’s fine. I can talk about writing all day. Plus I sold a few books, met some great local authors (Grady Thrasher, an amazing children’s writer who really hit it off with my daughter, Erica Jantzen, a super friendly writer of women’s fiction, and the amazing Phyl Campbell, an incredibly prolific writer who I convinced to join my writers’ group.) I sold a few books and got my books into more library branches here, made some author friends, and met some teenaged writers who are seriously going places.
I’m glad I had some events under my belt before I went to this, because I had a better idea of what to expect. This was my first official signing, but mostly it was an author talk. I didn’t have the safety net of other authors this time, it was just me, the amazing staff at Barnes and Noble, and ten teenage girls all dressed up for the Selection Prom (the event prior to mine). I’d met one of the girls before. She was a fan who’d reached out to me via my daughter’s gymnastics coach, so we’d grabbed coffee and I signed her books. I was so glad she was there because she always has great questions and great book recommendations. But I shouldn’t have been nervous, because the other girls were all just as excited about reading. This time instead of talking about the publishing and writing process, we just talked about books. My books, other books on Greek mythology, and then YA books and trends in general. I can talk about books all day.
I sold and signed a ton of books, and I got my books on the shelf in Barnes and Noble, so that was pretty awesome.
In person events are great. I really enjoyed meeting readers and writers, no matter what side of the table they were on. The biggest benefit I got out of these events was having done the events, if that makes sense. Author signings and appearances were this kind of nebulous thing always floating around inside my head. I worried about what would happen if no one came, if I didn’t have anything to talk about, or just being in front of a crowd in general. But those concerns were ill-founded. My audience is young adults. I’ve taught in a classroom full of teenagers held against their will until the bell rang. In comparison, chatting with teens who are willingly hanging out because they’re excited about reading is a cake walk (not to mention a thousand times more fun). I learned that a small turn out isn’t a bad thing, it gives you the opportunity to really get to know the people who did come. As for being nervous about running out of stuff to talk about, my books, books in general, and writing are endless sources of conversation for me, so that was a silly concern.
I can’t wait to find more events.