Preparing for an author event can be a lot of fun, but it can be a bit overwhelming as well. This is especially true if you haven’t attended many events in the past, and even more so if you have to travel to such an event. Some author events are like conferences in themselves!
Let’s use the Houston Teen Book Con as an example. This is an all-day event, local to us, that hosts 20-some authors in one awesome place. The event starts off with book sales, then you attend the opening speech, followed by a bunch of panels. The day is closed out by a closing speech and the book signing portion of the convention. That is one super packed day of author fun! There are tons of people, long lines, and not nearly enough time. Strategic planning is mandatory to get all of your books signed. So where do you start?
Research the Author Event in Advance
- Event hours and location. Go to the event website and get a feel for the structure and timeline. When does the event officially start and end? Understand how long it will take you to drive to the event, park, and walk around the venue.
- Authors attending. Who will be at the event? Will any specific authors need to leave early, or arrive late? Plan whom you want to see. Sometimes you cannot see every author you wish to. In cases such as these, a priority list is good to have made ahead of time so you can make sure you get to see the authors you are most excited about. (Insider’s tip: Chances are good that the author you most desire to see is also the one everyone else wants to see. Read: Long lines. Instead, hit up the lesser known authors first, as their lines will be shorter. Enter the big name author’s last as they will typically stay ever after the signing is over in order to get everyone already in line a chance to have their books signed. Cheating? Maybe. Smart? Definitely!)
- Book buying. Decide on a book buying budget first! Then decide which authors you want to meet at the event and look up their available books. Don’t be surprised if you end up wanting to buy 10+ books. It happens. Make a list and rank the books to help you decide.
- Plan the panels. Often there will be more available panels than there are time slots. At the Teen Book Con, for example, there are 6 different panels, but only 4 panel time slots. Each panel presents 4 times, so you can attend any 4 of them in any order. Pick the panels that interest you the most, and decide the order in which you plan on attending these panels. Don’t be afraid to geek out and MAP IT OUT!
Attending the Author Event
- What to wear. First and foremost, you want to be comfortable. This will be a long day of running around and lugging books. However, you will likely want to have a photo taken with authors, so be sure what you’re wearing is flattering. I’ve seen a wide variety of selections, from jeans and tennis shoes with a simple t-shirt, to dresses with flats. This is probably not the time for stilettos.
- Don’t break your back. Rose had this amazing idea for her “cart-o-books” that she brought to an author event we attended in Austin. So while the rest of us carried our books, she got to pull them. This is pretty much a luggage dolly with a crate. Julie will typically remember to bring a backpack to events like this, so at least that is easier than carrying everything in one hand. But Rose’s idea is much better.
- Pack water and snacks. There might be very little time between panels and other events to stop for lunch. We recommend you bring some water bottles and snacks with you to keep you going throughout the day.
- Stick to your plan, but amend it if needed. You did all your research and planned out your day, but when you arrive, you notice that some of the panels might have been rearranged, or maybe a last minute author change was made. You should be able to make changes to your planned out day, but having a good starting point is so much easier than just showing up and winging it.
Are you traveling to a new place for this author event? Allow yourself some time to be a tourist! We attended an awesome Colleen Hoover and Griffin Peterson event in Portland, Oregon, and spent half a day just seeing the sights. So be sure to plan some time to visit the local attractions.
Author Event Packing Checklist
- Camera and charger/batteries. You’ll want to take pictures of everything. Of course a cellphone camera works too in this case.
- Cell phone, charger, and battery pack to charge on the go. You know you’ll kill some phone battery tweeting about how much fun you’re having.
- Comfortable but cute clothes, for however many days the trip is. Be sure to anticipate weather. Have an umbrella and a light jacket with you for example.
- Notebook and pen. You’ll probably want to take notes of the cool and funny ways the authors answer questions, and document the other parts of the event. This is especially true if you’re a blogger and plan to write about the event later.
- Bookmarks/business cards to pass out to other book fanatics standing in line with you. We have these bookmarks for our blog we ordered and they are hella cute and we hand them out whenever we meet new book geeks like us. It helps make new friends and its a great way to share you blog and give out your contact info.
What do you think about our tips? Do you have anything to add? Sound off, we’d love to hear your thoughts on attending author events.