An Eventful Year (Part 1)

On April 11th, my ‘official’ season of book events will begin. The unofficial start was Coastal Magic in Daytona back in February, but since there’s a gap between that con and my others, it almost was like the end of the 2014 season.

This year, I’ll be in Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando, Louisville, St. Louis, Orlando and Atlanta, beginning April 11th and finishing August 16th.

10686000_10152497079049145_2026524481_oWhy do some authors participate in events and others don’t? And what are the benefits to both author and reader? So glad you asked.

As a rule, we authors tend to be a tad bit hermit-like. We love writing about people and far away places, but we’re just as happy to stay home rather than interact with real people. That’s one reason the computer and the Internet has been such a boon to the authors of the world. We can appear to be social without taking off our pajamas. Win-win.

Some of us feel that events have sufficient intrinsic value to abandon our PJ’s and put on real clothes and meet real people. It’s scary, yes, and for most of us, it’s exhausting, but we force ourselves to do it because in the long run, it’s fun. We meet our readers. There is little as thrilling as having someone come up to my table and begin discussing my characters as though they are mutual friends. . .people who enjoy the voices in my head as much as I do!

There are other authors who prefer to save that time and money, and that’s okay, too. Viva la difference, right?

The benefits of events to an author, aside from talking to people who share our love for our books, is spending time with those who speak our language. My husband and kids, for instance, love me. I’m pretty sure, anyway. But they really don’t want to talk about plot lines, recalcitrant characters, editing, formatting, releases, promotion. . .at least, not as much as I’d like to. So plop me down in a room with others who know what I’m saying when I mention BookBub or KU or Facebook promotion, and I’m a happy girl.

I also get to meet bloggers who I might only know online. That’s always so much fun. I love when someone comes to my table or 10597079_10152418618164145_478778960_opanel and introduces herself first as her name, and then adds the name of her blog. So exciting!

Of course, I enjoy meeting new readers, too, and telling them a little about what I write.

Speaking of readers, what do they get out of events? So much. First of all, if I’d been able to attend author events when I was younger, I would’ve been in hog heaven. All those authors to meet and talk with . . . and then there’s the swag, and the chance to have your books signed. . .to listen to authors on panels share about their processes and tips, aspects of writing and publishing–it’s really a gold mine of information and fun. If you haven’t attended one, you should plan to try.

Plus, you are almost 100% guaranteed to find at least one new author whose work you love. You have the chance to chat with them, check out their books and see what they’re all about. That’s a hidden bonus of author-reader events.

I have a few pointers to help you get your money’s worth out of attending these events:

–If you can do it, stay in the event hotel. First, you’re helping out the event, most of which have room blocks they must fill to meet their obligation to the hotel. Second, you’ll get interaction with authors that others don’t: riding up and down elevators, chatting over breakfast, hanging out at the pool or the workout room. . .

–Check out the author list a month or two before the event, and try to read at least one book from each author, if you have time. Most authors have at least one free book, so this isn’t as expensive as it sounds. I’ve loved to have readers come up and tell me they did this. . .such a great idea!

–Introduce yourself to your favorite authors when you meet, and tell her which of her books you’ve enjoyed. Do *not* tell her which of her books you don’t like or say anything like, “I found lots of typos in your book.” You won’t make a friend. Later, if you get to know the author well enough and it feels right, you can offer that information.

–Even if you’ve met the author before at another event, or even if you feel like you know her very well online, don’t expect her to recognize you. We don’t all look the same online, and some people <cough, cough> are terrible at putting names and faces together. Assume she needs the intro and be pleasantly surprised if she interrupts with, “Of course I know you!”

–Plan to buy at least one or two books. Most authors sell their paperbacks for between $10-$15. It helps if you can buy one.

–Attend panels, if they offer them. At least attend one or two. You’ll enjoy them, I promise, and it will help both the authors and the organizers.

–Bring something for all the authors to sign. I’ve signed Kindle and/or Nook cases, bags, T-shirts, frames, special scrapbook pages, printed photo montages. . .you name it. It’s cool to have all the authors from one event sign in one place!

–At the signing, don’t just visit authors you know or recognize. At every event, there will be newer authors who need to talk to readers. Stop by their tables, ask them what they write and get to know them. You might find a new favorite!

–If you’re a writer attending an event as a reader, feel free to tell the signing authors that you write, too. But please don’t ask them for advice, help or information if there’s a crowd at their tables. I suggest offering your card or name, with your email address, and asking if you might contact them online with questions. Some, if they have time, might offer to meet you for coffee while at the event to have a longer discussion. But by giving them the option, you’ve been gracious and professional.

–Talk about the event online before, during and after. That’s promotion, and it’s appreciated!

So I hope I’ll see you in one of the cities listed above. For more details, click here to see when, where and how to meet me at some point in 2015.

See you around the con!

{Next week, I’ll talk about dos and don’ts for authors at events.}

Peace, love and romance~

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