Fear in Writing: Book signings and the authors who do them

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Friday, January 15, 2010

Book signings and the authors who do them

Last night I went to my first ever author's reading/signing.  Even though I am an aspiring author and life-long writer, I have never attended one of these before.  I read books, so why do I need the author to read a chapter to me?  And surely I know they're writing process from interviews and blogs, so what could I learn from a Q&A session?
But Elizabeth Kostova was different.  I have read The Historian three and a half times.  As I told her last night while she penned her name in my first edition, it is my comfort book.  When I am out of new titles and nothing else appeals, I open this fifty-pound book and drift into its beautifully imagined, gothic world.

Will I attend every book signing I come across?  No.  Did I learn much about the writing process?  No.  I did learn a lot about this author, and I find her even more fascinating than before, perhaps even more interesting for what I did not learn.

I will turn out for my author friends' signings!  So please do not hesitate to tell me about them!  Sitting beside me last night was a couple slightly older than my parents.  The man was wearing a gold ring that looked strikingly familiar.  I kept stealing glances until I finally had to ask his wife, "Did your husband go to Rice University?"  It turne out he had, like eight people going back to my grandfather's generation in my family.  And she had attended University of Houston, where my father achieved his Masters in Architecture.  This gentleman was James E. Crisp, history professor at NC State and author of Sleuthing the Alamo.  Crisp has another book coming out titled How Did Davy Die? and, for all you mystery buffs, his wife tells me he has received some "death threats" from those quite unhappy with his reinvestigating history.  A little controversy is always good for selling books, but I met the man and he is nothing if not polite and reverential to history and literature.

Aaahh, well, you have wasted another perfectly good minute reading my blog.  Go write!

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  1. Book signings can be fun, but are lots of work and kind of stressful, particularly if you're a no-name author, like me. More than once I sat alone and ignored in Barnes and Noble.

    Still, when you do connect with a reader or two, it's very, very rewarding--particularly if they've read your book. You'll find out what the other side of the desk looks like pretty soon, Michele.

    Best Wishes Galen.
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  2. You're so funny...reading your blog is never a waste.

    I've never been to a book signing. But I hope to do one in the future. And I would love to go to your book signing, as well ;) If you ever do one near Indianapolis, I want to hear about it so I can go!

  3. Hey, will you drive to Philly if I ever have a book signing there? Thanks! :)

    Really, I do feel I should support authors more by going to book signings. Paying it forward, karma, and all that. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. I hate I missed this one!!!

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  5. I've been to few author appearances. Looking forward to doing my own!

  6. I've done 300+ book signings. Hate to say it, I really don't enjoy reading from my books! Discussing the meaning behind each one is much more fun.

  7. Galen- You are so encouraging! I will definitely make it to one of yours! And I will say this one was well-organized.

    Carol- Thank you and THANK YOU! How kind! When I publish I will travel all over! I have been to Indianapolis twice and loved the city both times. What a cool downtown you have!

    Simon- Bonus! My sister lives in Philly! It was great to support another author and schmooze a bit...Plus supporting an Indie bookstore was nice!

    Kristi- We'll catch another one together! And Whole Foods is right next door so we can do coffee or dinner (healthy!) afteward.

    Alex- Let us know when and where!

    Diane- 300+!!!!!! The discussion was my favorite part as well, especially watching the people asking the questions. You definitely get some weirdos attracted to authors!

  8. This was a very well wasted minute, I shall say. I loved the Historian! And Will have to check out "how did Davy Die?". I have never been to author reading either, but I will go to my writer friends...

  9. Awww, Jm...Any excuse to come to Atlanta, btw!

  10. I've never been to one but it sounds like a good experience. I've never read this book either, but maybe I should!

  11. I have never been to a book signing but I am dying to go!

  12. Book signings can be fun or awful, depending on who the author is and how much you know about them. I took a class where I had to go to several readings/book signings. Since I had to meet a quota I went to a lot where I didn't know anything about the author . This is how I learned about a few of my now favorites, and other times I got some nice naps in. Elizabeth Kostova would be great though!

  13. Steph- READ it! I cannot recommend it enough.

    V.S- Pick a book you really care about, and decide not to care if the author has a personality or not. It is about the experience and supporting your favorite writer. Or, even better, do it for a friend and go with other friends!

  14. I always enjoyed going to book signings. Being the person signing? Not quite as much fun. :) Lots of questions about where the restroom is.

    I'll need to read "The Historian." Thanks for the tip!

    Mystery Writing is Murder
    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

  15. One of the (very few) disadvantages of living in small city Canada is the complete and total lack of opportunities like this! I'd love to attend an author signing :)