So you’re going to an author event. That’s great! They are tons of fun. Whether you will soon be attending your first ever event or you’ve been to several, I have some tips that will help you make the most out of your trip, leaving you able to fan girl and be worry-free.
With self-publishing becoming more and more popular, there are author events popping up everywhere! You can find signings all over the country just about every weekend. Bloggers usually plan these events since they have become friends with indie and traditionally published authors through their blogging. I remember my first signing. I went to Southern Girls in Greenville, NC in July of 2014. I bought my tickets early, probably in October of 2013, when I saw the event page post that there were only 100 VIP tickets left.
TIP: Always go for the VIP tickets! The after party is always a blast and you will get to hang out with your favorite authors, if you’re brave enough to go up to them.
I thought when I bought my tickets that I was lucky to get them. Turns out, I was! They sold out so fast, the event organizer added MORE VIP tickets! And those sold out, too!
Some, but not all, events discount their tickets as the date of the event approaches. If you aren’t ready to dish out the fifty bucks for the VIP ticket, wait a bit. Make sure you also look at the list of attending authors. Sometimes tickets can be expensive, so check and see if spending that amount of money is worth it to you. Who do you want to meet most?
As I mentioned earlier, there are usually two types of tickets. General admission tickets are the cheapest and almost always just allow you admission into the signing. Depending on the signing, VIP tickets can offer different things. Some may allow you to have special time with the authors at an after party, which I think is a lot of fun. Some may provide you with customized tote bags. I suggest, if you have the time and the money, definitely go with the VIP ticket.
Southern Girls was my first signing, as I mentioned above. I had been looking at an author’s website and saw that she would be attending that event. When I saw that it was taking place in my state, I promised myself I would go. I had just begun blogging at that point as well, so I wanted to go and introduce myself to the authors there and get my blog’s name out.
TIP: If you’re planning in advance to go to an event where you will need to stay overnight, try and book your hotel room as early as possible. The hotels that are hosting the event and are closest to the event sell out fast! Most of the time, the event will have a group on Facebook. I recommend that you join, because there will be information provided there that you may not get elsewhere. Usually there will be a discounted rate at the hotel the event is taking place at, so be sure to ask about that.
When it comes to hotel rates, I am the best person to ask, as I work in a hotel. DO NOT USE THIRD PARTY TRAVEL SITES! They will give you what seems to be a big discount, but you're actually paying more. When you pay a third party, they pay us. The hotel only gets a portion of what you pay the third party, the rest goes to the website itself. Usually you have different discounts you can use, such as government, AAA, AARP, or senior discount. You can also book using Hilton Honors points at any Hilton (which is what I'm doing now in 2019 as I update this article). The rate will also fluctuate depending on how many rooms they have left to sell and what's going on in the area. Just do your research and you can find what best fits your budget. Do not risk your safety for a cheap place to stay! If you have a friend that you are going with or are planning to meet there, I would suggest rooming together. It definitely helps lessen the cost of the room, since the price is cut in half. You can also have up to four people in most hotel rooms, so that would cut the price even more.
So now you have your tickets! It’s more fun if you have a friend to go with you, but if not, post in the signing’s Facebook group or the event page on Facebook. You could probably find someone to chat with. I have seen some people bring their husbands or boyfriends, and some have even brought their kids. I personally do not think you should bring your kids along, especially if they are under the age of thirteen. Teenage boys, unless they are true fans of the authors, should definitely not come. They will be bored out of their minds. Most signings will have male models in attendance, and I know a lot of women (cough, me, cough) want to be able to really let themselves freak out when they see them. Sometimes things that young children shouldn’t see are shown, like Ben McKee’s “Made in Ireland” tattoo on his rear. Quite a few inappropriate things might also be said. Husbands and boyfriends should be advised in advance that you will be ignoring them, most likely, and using them to carry your things. Trust me, when your favorite authors are right in front of you, nothing else matters.
You’ve spent money on the tickets and the hotel room. Don’t forget that you will have to have gas or airfare money! Not to mention that there are going to be so many books at the event that you will want to buy. All authors accept cash, but only some accept card. Come prepared! If you are worried about overdrawing from your card, my suggestion would be to withdraw cash from an ATM beforehand, that way you can physically see what you have to spend.
I usually type each author’s name into Amazon and see what comes up. If I have read their book and loved it, I will put it on my wishlist for when I have money. Usually if you order the books from Amazon ahead of time, they are cheaper than buying from the authors themselves. Shh!!! Most authors will also have a preorder set up if you are afraid that they will run out of books. Most will let you prepay with PayPal, but not all of them give you the option to just reserve your copy and pay at the event.
If the really big names are at your event (K. Bromberg, Sylvia Day, EL James, Jodi Ellen Malpas are a few for romance) there will usually be loooooong lines. I have not been to one of those events (yet!), but I have heard from friends that it gets kind of crazy. They will either take your name or give you a number and they will call you over a PA system when it is your turn to see that author. While it may seem like fun to go see these big name authors, I don’t think it is worth it . I enjoy being able to just roam around and not having to plan my time around when I am going to get to meet a certain author. At smaller indie events, you get to really spend as much time as you want with them. You really get to connect.
TIP: Bring some sort of rolling bag! It will save your shoulders from aching later, since authors will basically shove swag at you. You will have so much stuff, it will get hectic trying to find what you need, especially in those tote bags that events usually give out. I promise, this is definitely something to invest in. Those big beach wagons work well too!
If you’re trying to think of how to make this signing easier, I highly recommend investing in a rolling tote (not suitcase). One that opens at the top, so that you don’t have to lay it down to open it up. I had a smaller rolling cart at my first signing, but I carried all my swag in totes on my shoulders. They ached so badly at the end of the day.
While you’re thinking of what else to bring, think about bringing an extra phone battery or external charger. If you do not bring a digital camera, you will be using your phone for all the pictures. Your battery will run down quickly and you don’t want it to die! Also, make sure you have enough space for the thousands of pictures you are going to take. Possibly having a storage app on your phone, such as DropBox, to automatically sync your pictures will allow you to delete some when you need more room.
Oh, you will most likely get thirsty. You aren’t going to want to leave the authors to go find a vending machine. Bring bottled water along with you. I didn’t and I wish I had!
TIP: If you’re a blogger, get business cards made! Authors love bloggers and usually they will have something extra for you to giveaway. They will take your card and contact you after the event.
I love being a blogger! Going to events, I make sure I have kindle cases to get signed, a t-shirt to get signed, and business cards! You can never have too many business cards. VistaPrint is where I get mine. You can use the code TV500 to get 500 business cards for $9.99 + shipping and tax . I see this offer on television quite often, but I am not sure how long it will last (It still works in 2019!). VistaPrint usually has amazing offers going on and they will email you when anything goes on sale. You can also Google “VistaPrint promo codes” and find many promo codes that you can use to get discounted items. Some codes may be good for free shipping, some may be discounting only certain items. Some may not even work. Retailmenot is a good website to use when looking for promo codes. Getting shirts are also a good idea. I don’t usually wear my blog shirt because I get each author to sign it. I then hang it up on my wall at home. You can usually buy shirts, totes, or other items at the event and have all of the authors you meet sign it for a keepsake.
You will most likely get a lot of doubles when it comes to swag. That’s a great chance for you to give things away on your blog! Usually the authors like to tell you that they’ll be happy to provide books for giveaways. I think it may be a good idea to carry a notebook with you and write down which authors say that. You will never remember when the event is over. Kindle cases are a great item to giveaway. You could also donate them to auctions and they will raise quite a bit of money.
I have seen some readers that buy blank canvases at arts and craft stores, then paint them and have authors sign them. They will look awesome hanging up on your wall. Readers are creative. Pinterest might be a good place to look for ideas beyond these.
Usually authors have some swag items that they will charge you for, like mugs or tumblers. I have seen (and bought!) a wooden paddle from one author at Authors in the City this past March in Myrtle Beach. Make sure your hubby knows whether he’s allowed to buy anything on your signing day, since you will most likely spend everything you have. But trust me, it is worth it.
TIP: Wear comfortable shoes! There will be a lot of walking and standing, and while you think those sexy heels might just complete your outfit, your feet will be screaming at you by the end of the day.
Now it’s the day of the event! You have your outfit picked out for the signing (make sure it’s something cool, it gets hot in there!) and now you’re trying to figure out which shoes to wear. Sneakers are probably the best for your feet. You will be on them quite a bit and you don’t want your feet to be killing you before the after party hits!
Some events have themes for the after party. If not, try dressing it up a little. It’s not a black-tie event (well, most aren’t), but you do want to look good! At Southern Girls, I had THE BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE when all the models went on stage and started dancing and SHAWN FREAKING DAWSON POINTED AT ME AND CALLED ME ON STAGE TO TAKE HIS SHIRT OFF. There’s a video out there. And that’s not it! He then jumped off stage AND PICKED ME UP IN HIS ARMS. TALK ABOUT SWOON!!!!
Most events also have photo booths! The alcohol is flowing and people are feeling loose. The pictures get kind of crazy, but it’s all in good fun. I have some pictures that Shawn took with me. I will never ever forget that night .
TIP: If there is an open bar or alcohol available, try and cut yourself off at some point. Nobody likes a sloppy drunk. Plus, you want to remember this night.
I hope this prepares you for your upcoming signing!
I will never forget what one author told me at my first signing. “Signings are like chips. You can never have just one.”
And she was right!