Monday, April 27, 2015

My Thought Monday #2 (Attending An Author Con/Event)

Hey readers! Welcome to another thrilling installment of My Thought Monday. A weekly post where I get to rant and/or rave about happenings in the book world. I got a lot of positive feedback from my mega post last week where I laid out my thoughts on "Young Adult vs. New Adult: What's The REAL Deal?" so I knew I needed to follow it up with another interesting topic today. Today's topic is one that has been on my mind for a while now: general reader/fan etiquette while attending an author convention/event. This is a major topic of importance for me so I'm excited to get down to business.

I'd like to offer up my thoughts for discussion among authors, bloggers, readers, and all members of the literary community. I understand that my views may be in the minority on some fronts and would love to hear your thoughts. Please note that while I would love to hear your thoughts, I will not tolerate this as a place of hate and negativity. If you so choose to put forward your thoughts via comment, Twitter, Facebook, email, etc, please do so professionally. I am fully aware that sometimes the bookish world is the last place you want to put your personal thoughts, but I, for one, am tired of being quiet. It's time for me to take a stand on issues that are important to me in this community. It is my belief that, only as a community, can we pull together and make real change in this bookish world we all know and love.

Here we go:

Attending an Author Con/Event: What YOU Should Know

So you've found out that fifteen (or fifty) of your favorite authors are signing at an event next weekend and you're able to attend. The rush of excitement of meeting some of your favorite authors and bookish friends leaves you positively giddy. Maybe this is your first event signing, or maybe you're a seasoned vet in the field, either way the feeling of excitement never dies. That is, until you get to the event and see some of the behaviors that will turn you from flailing fangirl to Hulk-smashing angry.

What do you do? How do you handle said situations? Today's post is written from not only my own experiences, but also the experiences of a handful of bloggers and authors who frequent cons! This post is directed towards readers and authors. Rather than include these tips in paragraph form, I'll be doing the in list form for easy reading!

DO: Remember that authors are people too. While everyone likes to be in the spotlight for a moment, don't overdo it. The biggest complaint I've heard from authors is that some fans are overbearing to the point of being scary. It's totally okay to freak out and flail when you meet an author (trust me, there have been times when I've been SHAKING from excitement), but remember to keep it to a dull roar. 

DON'T: Push yourself onto an author. Regardless of the pedestal we place them on sometimes, authors are human beings as well. They face the same issues as we normal mortals do: social awkwardness, anxiety, etc. If an author isn't standing up to hug and take a picture with you, don't be offended. Maybe they don't feel comfortable being touched. If an author isn't really seeming to connect with you, don't chalk it up to them being an 'author behaving badly', recognize that maybe they aren't comfortable in the situation. Put yourself in their shoes. I see this a lot on social media: "____ was such a bitch because she wouldn't hardly talk to me/take a picture with me." Don't be that fan.

DO: Introduce yourself to everyone you can. Is an unknown-to-you author sharing a table with your favorite? Be sure to take a minute to say hello to them also. Author events/cons are all about meeting new people and introducing yourselves as readers and fans to other members of the literary community. Sometimes it's a great feeling to get to know the person before you meet the author. I have had great luck with this personally. In fact, some of my closest author connections have come from me meeting the author in person before ever actually reading their books. Once I know they're an awesome person in real life, I can definitely love their books with no questions. I've, admittedly, been involved in a lot of awkward conversations with authors on this front, but I wouldn't change them for anything. Maybe you're seeing a sci-fi author, but the author sharing their table writes hardcore erotic romance? Nobody said you have to buy their book and sign up for their mailing list, but even just a simple "Hey, I'm _____, nice to meet you" will make an authors day, and give you a connection. 

DO: Take advantage of any one on one time you may get with the author. My favorite author events have been the ones with fewer fans. The ones where the setting was much more intimate and I could actually have a conversation with the author of my choosing. Seek out smaller events, local signings, etc to ensure you can really make a connection with your favorite author. There is a don't associated with this that I'll get to later. 

DON'T: Assume that the author will remember you. I hear a lot of whining from fans about how they can meet an author five different times and the author doesn't run up and embrace them when they meet again. Some authors have MILLIONS of fans, do you really expect them to recognize them all? No. Absolutely not. This one is a huge pain point for me. Just be glad you can be in their presence. Do you honestly remember the names and faces of every person you ever met for 5 minutes in your life? Now if you are lucky enough to have an author recognize you from a past signing, take it as a small blessing and go on with it. Authors will often say things such as 'oh I recognize you!' or 'oh you were at my signing in _____' if they do recognize you, but don't assume anything. It makes an ass out of you and me both. Also, don't push them to remember you, that gets awkward.

DO: Limit yourself. Maybe the event sponsors haven't placed an official limit on the number of books you can bring for each author, but that doesn't mean you should bring them all. I get rather angry when events place strict limits on the number of books you can bring to an event. Let's take a specific event into consideration. One of the largest book events in the country has a 'three book per author limit'. While I can agree that this is reasonable, it really sucks when you have an author present who has over 30 books in their arsenal. How do you choose? Also, how bad would it suck to stand in line for an hour only to have three books in a five book series signed? Thankfully, most events I've been to have been fairly lax on these rules and only ask this as a request. There are events that aren't so lax and will count your books when you arrive. Have more than the required number? Get your three signed and then get back in line. Sorry folks, it's the rules. Whether I agree with them or not, I definitely see where they're coming from. I once went to meet an author who had over twenty books in publication as of that date. The woman two people in front of me had a wagon full of books. A freaking wagon people. She had every book the author had ever published. And, while the authors eyes got as big around as basketballs when she saw all the books, she never said a words and still signed them all, because she was awesome like that. Now while this fans day had been made, I was absolutely livid to have to stand behind her and wait. As were the fifty some-odd people behind me grumbling. My point here people is to be considerate of other fans who are attending the event. If you have an offensive number of books to have signed, wait until the very end. The authors, event organizers, and your fellow fans will be appreciative, plus you get to spend more one-on-one time with the author. Make it count!

DON'T: Act like you and the author share a deep personal bond of friendship. If you share a personal relationship with your favorite author, it's one of the greatest feeling in the world, but don't ever assume the author feels the same way. Story: I once had a blogger friend ask me to get a book signed by their favorite author. This friend told me that the author knew I was coming and played it off as though they were the closest of friends. Insisting that they talked every day as old chums. Upon meeting the author in person, I brought this up and the author, very kindly, informed me that she had absolutely no idea who I was talking about, then signed the book just as she would for any normal fan. Don't make yourself sound more special than you are when it comes to author relationships. All it does is build up jealousy and animosity about you from other readers. This plays a big role at signings. 

DO: Dress comfortable. I hear this debate a lot. "What should I wear?" I like to keep two things in mind when dressing for an event. 1) What's going to look good in pictures? and 2) What is going to be the most comfortable? Author events aren't all hanging out with your favorite authors. In fact, most of it isn't. 80% of your time at a large author event will be spent waiting in a line of some sort. I was recently present at an author event with nearly fifty authors and nearly two thousand fans. I sat in like for hours at this event. Of the four hours I was there, at least 3 were spent in some form of line. You come to expect this from events, it's an unfortunate downside, but it happens. Just think about what is going to be comfortable when you're sitting/standing in line waiting for your 30 seconds with the author. If you have a fun crazy T-shirt, wear it! Authors love when fans dress like that! Don't worry about dressing to the nines for an event though, trust me, more people will criticize than compliment you. I went to an event once where there were two guys in front of me in line wearing suits and ties and my only thought was "wow they look stupid" as we stood in line for an hour. Same with you ladies, why wear heals and a cocktail dress to stand in line for hours on end?

DOMark your books. Post-it notes are your best friend when it comes to an author signing. There are fewer things more frustrating than getting home to see that an author has misspelled your name. Honest mistakes happen, but they can be easily avoided by simply placing a post-it note with the name you'd like inscribed on the title page of the novel. It's quick and easy, and it makes the singing process much streamline and effective for authors. It also minimizes mistakes. Don't, however, write personal notes on for the authors on those post-its, as the author will sometimes be so in the zone that they write your whole message in the books. True story, I've had this happen a handful of times!

DON'T: "Stalk" out your favorite author. I've only recently seen this trend and it's sketchy as hell. These authors are traveling across the country to make it to these signings. In some cases the author has been on multiple planes, trains, and automobiles to make it to the hotel. The last thing someone who just traveled twelve hours to get somewhere wants to do is be hounded as soon as they walk into the doors of their hotel. Seriously fans, keep it professional. Seriously. Don't be a creeper. That's a real quick way to earn yourself a bad name in the literary community.

Do: Bring a backpack, book cart, duffle bag, SOMETHING! One of the very best parts of a book event is that you're always going to leave with more things than you came with. Whenever I go to events, I pack myself full of so many books I can hardly move. While I always enjoy myself, carting around those books can be a huge hassle. A hassle that has caused me to miss out on some of the more important aspects of a signing. Rather than try to carry all of your books in a small bag (or purse for you ladies), think big. Bring a backpack, purchase a rolling cart (I got mine at Staple's for less than $20 and it's a life saver), grab an extra suitcase on wheels. Trust me, it may seem crazy, but your back will thank you later. Books get heavy. Also, this way you can rest easy knowing that ll of your books are secure in one place!

DON'T: Be afraid to ask for a picture with the authors. Unless there is a strict 'no photos' rule, most authors will love to take a picture with their fans. Remember to be considerate to those behind you in line. It's always a great idea to have a friend with you to take pictures. If not, this is a perfect opportunity to perfect the 'selfie', as it gets old having to ask people to take pictures for you. As a fan, it's great to have a photo as a memento, but also as an author, it's exciting to see those pictures pop up on social media! Be sure to tag the authors fan page when you post online! *Note: a fun tip is to make sure you have your security pass code on your phone turned off if you intend to use your cellular device to take pictures. It's a real time saver when passing your device to friends, assistants, or fans to take your picture* 

DO: Meet fellow readers and bloggers. Funny enough, some of my greatest experiences at book events have come from all the friends I have made in line to meet the authors. Some of them have become some of my very best friends. Make good use of the time you'll be sitting and waiting. Remember, you're all there for a reason, so you already have at least one thing in common! Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation, just don't be that guy who won't shut up.

DON'T: Criticize an authors' works to them in person. Author cons/events are not Facebook,Goodreads, or Amazon. Keep your reviews there. nothing will frustrate an author more than you telling them how you feel their stories should have been written. They are the guests of honor, not you.  You wouldn't tell a chef how to prepare his special dish, or an artist how to paint, don't tell an author how to write. Just don't. Keep your negativity at home, this isn't the place for it. I've seriously seen fans stand in line just to tell an author they hated their works. Seriously? Get the hell out of here. You people are disgusting.

DOIf you're getting something signed or meeting the author, DO tell them your favorite scene, favorite character, or something you loved about their books. Authors love positive feedback just as much as we all do. Let them know what you loved!

DON'T (Authors only):  Pitch your book to another author ever. Especially at a signing. Keep it professional. It's fine to ask for advice, but don't make it uncomfortable.

DON'T : Assume you're presence is more coveted because you traveled far to attend the event. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. People, I'll be blunt. Nobody cares if you traveled across the street or across the nation to attend an author event. Do not just assume that since you traveled quite a ways to be there that you are going to receive any form of special treatment. I have traveled ten minutes for an author event, I've also traveled ten hours through tornadoes and blizzards to author events. You're all fans and nobody made you come. Don't try to act like you're something special. I was recently at a signing where a group of readers tried to act high and mighty because they'd traveled a whole 4 hours to be there. I had traveled ten hours and a friend of mine traveled 2300 miles to be there. We just laughed. Those girls sure looked stupid when it was announced that some fans had traveled internationally to attend the event. Just be glad you got the opportunity to come. And remember, you may be tired, jet lagged, etc, but you're not the one sitting behind a table signing until your wrist sounds like a cement mixer, after traveling cross country. Food for thought.

DO: Take time into consideration. Be sure to hit up your favorite authors first to make sure you get to meet them. Author events can get real out of control, real fast. Make sure you have a game plan, complete with maps and a course of action to ensure you get the most out of your time there. While some authors will stay later to sign things, others simply won't or just can't. A signing I attended once just had to shut its' doors, as the facility was closing. Keeping a schedule will help avoid any unnecessary frustration.

DO: Give feedback to event organizers. Did you love an event? Did you absolutely hate it? The only way to make sure things change for a future event is to let the organizers know in a professional manner. Writing a simple email or dropping off a comment card will greatly help event sponsors plan future events. Is there an author you'd like to see invited, a new venue you think would work better? Don't complain, help make the next one better! Event organizers and sponsors are always looking for tips and feedback to improve future events, let your opinions be heard! Remember to keep it professional though, not doing so is a quick way to find yourself banned from future events!

And above all...

DO: Have fun! Be yourself! Make the best memories you can! Remember that these events are special and that you have the power to make them be as great as you want them to be. I can promise that if you adhere to some of the steps above, you'll have a much more memorable and enjoyable experience!

So as you can read, a lot of planning goes into creating the perfect author event/con experience for both the author and the reader. I have attended more events than I can count and can say without hesitation that they are my favorite part about being involved in the literary community. The connections that you make are priceless. By following these dos/don'ts, you can ensure that you have the best event experience possible! If you're interested in seeing more information about some of the events I have been to, head over to my Hall of Fame page to learn more! 

Got some more hints/tips for readers and authors? Add them in the comments below and I'll add them to the list!

I'd like to also reiterate that all thoughts expressed above are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of any authors, bloggers, publicity/publishing, companies that I may work alongside. If your thoughts are different, please sound off in the comments or via Facebook, Twitter, or email. All of my contact links can be found above. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Until next time, Happy Reading!



  1. These are some great tips Ethan! Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. Thanks for sharing. These are great things to remember and think about.