13 Jun 2016

Discussion: Jamie's Guide To Surviving Book Events!

On Books Are My Fandom, I will have a post about how to interact with others at events, but I thought I would write a post about what to pack to prepare for the events and what author events actually entail. I am going to give general tips that correspond to all events and then break this up into two sections for specific tips: one for just one or multiple authors at a bookstore and one for larger conventions/festivals.

General Tips

Pack Ahead of Time

Make a checklist about two weeks before the event for everything you need. It should include items like:
  • Books to get signed
  • Post-it notes
  • Pens
  • Additional Book to Read, optional
  • Portable Phone Charger
  • Camera, optional if you don't have a smart phone
  • Snack foods; ideally for me, granola bars WITHOUT peanuts because you can keep them in the wrapper and not get your hands dirty.
  • Water bottle
  • BUSINESS CARDS, if you have them/are a blogger

Get Your Books Ready Ahead of Time

Do you want your books personalized? Check out how to get your post-it notes and books ready! Here's what you need:
  • Square post-it notes
  • Pen
  • Book!
Take your post-its and flip them upside down so the sticky part is at the bottom. Write your name here! Stick it on the opposite page from the one that has both the title of the book and the author's name. This way they don't have to move the sticky note and can still see your personalization! This works even better with hardcovers because you can move the flap to this location so you can easily access it!

Double check that your phone is charged to 100% and that your portable charger is charged/has extra batteries too! 

What To Pack These Things In

If it is a one author event, I use a tote bag because they are typically lighter and will be able to fit in all the books I am going to take to the event. For a multiple author or convention/festival, I take a backpack because it is easier to carry the books around, take the books out, and put them back inside because the opening is larger. I have a camping backpack that I take that unzips ALL THE WAY and will lay down flat so I can easily grab books out and put them back in without messing up order or fumbling with them. But backpacks are easier to use with more authors: they allow you more room to bring more books and have pockets for things like water bottles!

At A Bookstore

Most bookstore events will require you to buy at least one book from them to get into the signing line. Some may require you buy a SPECIFIC book to get into the signing line. Double check before you go and on the day of by asking the associates there. You can also tweet the store to find out the specific details! 

What Time Should I Get There?

I always try to get to events about 1.5 to 2 hours early so that I can be close to the front for viewing purposes and first in line to get things signed. That way I can spend time with the people I meet there and also leave quickly if I have other things to do. For larger events that you are highly anticipating, I would say get there even earlier if possible. 

What Do I Do With My Hands????

Listen to the author speak. Take the occasional picture, but honestly, just live in the moment. Be in awe. I try to stay away from live tweeting events or even writing down notes about what was said until AFTER because I don't want to appear rude. I don't mind doing some of this in the signing line, especially if there is a specific detail I want to add into my recap, but it's just fun to talk to people in line as well. 

When You Get To The Front

If there are multiple authors, try to order your books in the same order as the authors. This makes it easier to distribute books out to them without having to search too hard. You are going to be nervous so you should do as much as possible to ensure you don't feel more nervous or embarrassed. 

At A Convention/Festival

Understand that this is going to be a long day. Plan on this. Wear comfy shoes and clothes that you can sit and stand in. If you aren't comfortable wearing and walking in heels for 8 hours, don't wear them. I typically wear either tennis shoes or Sperrys. I also wear leggings or jeggings with a nice top or blouse (usually sleeveless so I can show off my tattoo tbh). I try to stay away from graphic tees unless they are book related just because I 1. don't own a lot of them and 2. am meeting a lot of authors and want to look profesh in my photos so I can post them on LinkedIn.

Plan Your Day... Tentatively

Make sure you know what is available and what you FOR SURE want to do and keep those times blocked off to do those things. But don't be too discouraged if for some reason something falls through. Have back up plans so that you are doing something else instead. Make sure you schedule a time to eat (this is where granola bars come in handy though) and to just relax and recharge. You don't have to be doing something every second of every day, but it is nice to get to different panels or authors if you have the chance.

Understand You Will Be In Lines

Lines, lines, lines. It is a huge part of conventions and festivals. If there is an author you really want to see, make sure you get in line early so you aren't spending time waiting for the line to move before you meet them. As well, talk to people in lines or pull out that extra book you brought to do some reading. I tend to do a combination of the two while in lines. ALSO, don't be afraid to ask the person behind you to take a photo of you and the author (if that's allowed) if there is no publicist/volunteer there to do so.

Follow The Rules

If they say "one book and one picture," don't bring up four books and also try to get a picture. That is a RICHARD MOVE. You wouldn't want to be at the end of the line and not be able to even meet the author because someone up front did this so don't do this to someone else. Common Canadian Courtesy. 

If the author only wants to sign a specific book (which I have never heard of happening but...), don't bring a different book to get signed. That is also a RICHARD MOVE.

Also, generally, don't cut lines. Don't make people feel bad about meeting an author. If someone asks you to take a picture, do that for them. And take a couple just to be safe. Be patient and allow people the time to talk to the author.

But How Do I Hand Out Business Cards? YOU TOLD ME TO BRING THEM

Tell people you blog. At the end of conversations say, "we should chat more online! Here's how to contact me." If there is a publicist there with the author(s), introduce yourself and your blog. Tell them that you would love to work with them and they can find all your contact information on your business card. Stick them books you've reviewed on the YA shelves. Do you visit this store frequently? Ask if they have an event planner and give your business card to them! You can keep in touch with them about events you want booked and tell them to inform you so you can inform others about said events! 

How many you bring is up to you. I usually bring about 25-30 for smaller events and 50-75 for larger events. I had 65 when I left for TBF Live and came home with zero. (Which was poor planning on my part because I had none for the Maggie Stiefvater event) I would say until you're super comfortable offering your business card to people, bring about 10-15. That way you aren't taking up too much space with them but also have them in case you hand them out.

See my post about what you need on your business card!

Any other tips you guys have for people attending events?


  1. This was great advice! I have yet to attend a high volume book event, but I'm sure I eventually will and these things will certainly come in handy!

  2. Great advice Jamie! I'm looking forward to putting it in practice when I go to ALA next week.


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