Jilly: Book Signings

Have you ever been to a signing or other author event at a bookstore? Would you recommend it?

As I may have mentioned 😉 I’m a huge Ilona Andrews fan, and I especially like the Hidden Legacy series, because the books are romance in an urban fantasy setting, rather than urban fantasy with strong romantic elements. All Ilona Andrews books have the same basic components: lashings of imagination, fabulous world-building, characters to care about, strong community, sparkling dialogue, underpinned by kindness and humor, but I love them most when there’s a double helping of romance in the mix.

I was already excited about the upcoming release of Wildfire, the third and final (maybe) book in the series, which will be on sale next month, on 25th July. Then I discovered that Ilona (or more likely Gordon and Ilona, as the author is a husband and wife team), will be in Orlando to promote the book while I’m at RWA National. Whee!

I have two opportunities to see my favorite authors in person. One is at the Avon Digital Day, being held at the RWA conference hotel on Wednesday July 26th. The other is the following evening, at Barnes & Noble in downtown Orlando, with Jeaniene Frost, who also has a new book to promote. I’m planning to hit both events, but based on my experience of past conferences, I suspect the Digital Day will be a zoo.

I’ve never been to an author event at a bookstore, and I have no idea how that’s likely to work or what to expect. I’m hoping it might be a bit more manageable than the Avon day, but that’s guesswork. So far the bookstore website just lists the event and the start time, though I’ll be keeping an eye on it for more information. In the meantime I thought I’d ask around and see if anyone else has experience of attending these kind of events.

Have you ever been to an author event or signing at a bookstore?

Did you enjoy it? What did you like (or hate) about it? Was it worth the effort?

Do you have any tips, hints or suggestions for me? I’m thrilled that I’ll get this extra bonus out of my trip to Orlando, and I want to make the most of it.

Thank you!

PS More details about the Hidden Legacy series, Wildfire, and the schedule for Ilona’s promotional tour, can be found at http://www.ilona-andrews.com.

11 thoughts on “Jilly: Book Signings

  1. Great opportunity, Jilly.

    I met Kristian Higgins at an author event at a local bookstore a few months back. The store had set up a bunch of chairs and there was session (maybe 30 minutes) where she and another author talked, followed by a Q&A. After that, folks queued up to have her sign their books. It was a relatively small bookstore and a good-sized crowd (more than 50 people, I’d say). The talking part was fun – so personal “get to know her ” stuff along with tidbits about her books and characters and whatnot. The signing part was quick,though I never know exactly what to say when I meet an author, and felt rather awkward.

    My basic advice for author events would be (1) arrive early, before the books run out or the author starts to get that glazed-eye look, and (2) plan what to say when you meet, so you don’t have to fumble for words.

    • Sounds like good advice, Elizabeth, especially ‘work out what to say.’ Back in my work days I once met Carlos Acosta, the ballet dancer, at an event at the Royal Opera House. I love, love, love his dancing, so my wonderful bank manager (it was a bank sponsored event) dragged me over and introduced me to him. I mumbled and stumbled and completely fluffed it. Then some over-eager fan interrupted me and elbowed me out of the way. Sooo embarrassing. Mortified.

      Oh, yes–and at RWA a couple of years ago I went to the literacy signing and queued for more than two hours to get some books and swag from Sylvia Day. She’s mega popular, and it seemed everyone else in the queue was a superfan. I was there at the behest of a carer from my mum’s nursing home, who’s a Sylvia junkie. I don’t read erotica so I had a vague notion of the main characters’ names and that was all. Sylvia Day was professional and charming, but as you might imagine, her easy small talk was all around her books, so I fluffed that one as well. And I was the only person in the line that didn’t ask for a selfie. Argh.

      Right. No fumbling for words this time!

      • The selfie thing always feels weird to me. “Hi, you have no idea who I am an will forget me the minute I step away, but can we snap a photo and pretend to be great friends.” Ugh. Maybe it’s just my introverted nature rearing its ugly head. That said, I do have a photo of myself with Jo Beverly, taken aboard a reader/writer cruise. I’m glad to have it, but it only exists through the efforts of my sister-in-law. I’d have slunk away unnoticed if left to my own devices.

        • With you on the selfie thing, Elizabeth. Apart from pics with the other Ladies, selfies will not feature in my plans for Orlando.

  2. I’ve gone to a couple here in Datyon. SEP did one at Books & Company when First Star I See Tonight came out. Same format you’ve discussed, 30 minutes of chat/reading, then the book signing. In an interesting twist, she gave away books to the first person to respond to quiz questions–e.g. Why does she read romance? Because life is too short to read depressing books. Then the book signing queue. I was wearing my Golden Heart necklace.Kat was with me. In a pre-choreographed move, she pointed that my necklace and SEP did a double-take and congratulated me. At which point I turned mumbled, “thank you,” got my signature and faded, thus tossing away the chance to ask if she had any suggestions for pitching it.

    • Oh, Jeanne! Bet I’d have done exactly the same. The weird thing is, in an executive role I have no problem being super-assertive on behalf of my boss or employer. Same for the benefit of my friends or family, or in a domestic situation. But in a social group, or when it comes to pitching my work, or networking, if it’s about being assertive for myself, I’m horrible.

  3. I met Lois McMaster Bujold at a con — I’ve “talked” with her for years on the mailing list as one of many fans, but I was so tongue-tied and befuddled! Still, totally worth it! I was travelling from Japan, so had no books for the various book-signings that went on at the convention in Denver.

    I think they get so busy, and I suspect that part of their brain is on “meet-and-greet” bot mode (I am a minor celebrity in my town as one of five exotic foreigners who teach at a LOT of schools, so I sometimes get public recognition from kids I don’t recognize). It’s probably best to stick to the script — tell ’em you love their books. If you have a difficult name (Jilly doesn’t!), have a business card handy for the inscription (or the inscription itself, if it’s a weird, short one). Then let the others have a chance (-:.

    I think follow-up is perfectly OK! A quick email that says, “You probably don’t remember me, but I met you at X-Venue in Y-City. I was the (quick description), and I was wondering if (you’d like to be a guest blogger/you have any ideas for pitching for a beginner/you’d like to take a look at the review of your book that I wrote).”

    Email after probably works well for a lot of reasons: they can focus on it at their convenience. They are writers, and writing may be a happier medium for them to communicate in. And they can ignore it at their convenience, as well.

    (-: I hope you get to meet them, and make a little contact that you can follow up on. IIRC, you already “know” them on the internet. It’s so nice to be able to put faces to names! It might be worthwhile to ask (via email) what they are doing, and if they have time for a more informal fan-meet. Sometimes authors go to dinner with their fans after these book signings.

    • Ilona and Gordon will often do a meet-and-greet in a nearby venue before/after a signing, which is really generous of them. Haven’t seen anything like this suggested for Orlando, but I can hope 😉

  4. I think—depending on the author and maybe number of people attending the signing—that tying up the queue while you chat up the author is Not Done. Long ago I saw someone try to engage Jessica Mitford when she was signing the books, and when the manager’s efforts didn’t persuade the guy to move along. Security was called. Maybe by the time inscribing is happening, the acceptable conversational gambits are short platitudes. Good news for the introverts! My RWA chapter sometimes has opportunities to take visiting authors or editors out to meals or drive them somewhere. I once had a Penguin editor in my car for two hours. That was fun. 🎁

    • Yeah, unless there’s a clear signal to the contrary, I’d assume the protocol is to keep it short and sweet and move right along.

      Jessica Mitford! Isn’t it somehow appropriate that she’d have a stalkerish superfan? Obviously he took the hint when Security got involved, so all’s well etc and we can enjoy the story. You definitely win the prize for Best Booksigning Anecdote 😀

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