BTS: Signings & Events (one author’s perspective)

October 9, 2023

I was fortunate enough to attend 3 amazing events this summer: Readers and Authors Get Together (RAGT) in Erlanger, Space Coast Book Lovers in Cocoa Beach, and Books at the Beach in St. Pete’s. I haven’t traveled this much since before covid, and I’d forgotten just how much work goes into attending these things.

First off, let me just say that signings and reader events are awesome. I mean, where else can you hang out with hundreds of other avid readers and every event, every activity, every everything is focused on books?

Not to mention, you get to meet other authors, readers, and industry professionals, make new friends, and forge connections that can last years. 

And don’t even get me started on the chance to travel to new places and experience new things. For example, because of these events, I got to eat beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans and bottle my own bourbon in Kentucky, neither of which I would have ever done otherwise.

But as wonderful as these events are, there are some downsides too. Some things you might not know…

  1. Authors must be invited to participate. They can submit interest forms, but unless you’ve attended in the past or you know someone participating, chances are the event’s already booked by the time you hear about it.
  2. They’re expensive. Table fees, travel costs, food and lodging, ordering tons of books and cool swag add up really quick. FYI: most of the authors I know shell out a lot more to attend these events than they make at them. It’s not about making money; it’s about putting yourself out there.
  3. Prepping starts months in advance, from making reservations to creating games, stockpiling supplies, purchasing prizes and gift baskets, etc. That’s time we’re not writing, promoting, or doing any of the other 1,329,238 indie authors have to do to stay afloat and relevant.
  4. They’re energy penny intensive. For a social introvert like me, meeting lots of new people and being in crowds can be overwhelming and physically exhausting, no matter how much love meeting readers, authors, and talking about my favorite subject – books! Sometimes I end up skipping optional activities just to go back to my room and breathe. 

This doesn’t apply only to authors. These events are hard on readers too, for many of the same reasons. So what continues to draw us back over and over again? Because at the end of the day, signings and reader events are a chance to meet with others just like us. Because no matter what our lives are like outside the venue, inside, our love of books binds us together. We are a community like no other. And to be surrounded by hundreds of people who get you? Well, that’s priceless.