Book events: 3 Survival Tips for Authors

Susan Gloss signing books for book club members at an event at Barnes and Noble, Appleton, Wis.

Most of our work as authors occurs in solitude, typing at a keyboard, jotting down notes, or working through editorial suggestions. It’s a bit of a departure from our “habitat,” then, when we’re asked to appear in public. Here are my survival skills for those occasions.

  1. Lower your expectations. As a debut author, your opportunities to speak in front of large crowds will probably be few and far between. Maybe you’ll attract a sizable audience at a conference or at your own launch party. But chances are that the majority of your book-related events will be for a much smaller crowd. Half a dozen book club members, perhaps, or a handful of bookstore patrons. It’s important to remember that small events can still be successful. Connecting with readers and letting them see that there’s a human being behind the book, has value. If readers really had a chance to talk with you and learn about your book, chances are they are more likely to tell someone else about it.
  2. Come caffeinated. Let’s face it. Standing in front of a group of people you don’t know and saying something intelligent takes energy. And if, like me, if you’ve worked a day job and wrangled a 2-year-old before arriving at your book event, you’ll probably be drained. I find that sipping a cup of coffee during my drive to the event helps give me the boost of enthusiasm I need.
  3. BYO Swag.  These days, many publishers don’t have the budget to produce posters, bookmarks, buttons, or other freebies for a debut novel. Most authors I know make their own. Many Walgreens stores have a great same-day poster service, and they often have coupons for buy-one-get-one. Sites like VistaPrint often run great promotions for bookmarks or postcards in bulk. A small budget for printed materials can go a long way in advertising your event or having swag to give to attendees.


Author: Susan Gloss

Susan Gloss is the author of the novel VINTAGE (William Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2014). When she's not writing, toddler wrangling, or working as an attorney, she blogs at Glossing Over It and curates an online vintage store, Cleverly Curated.

6 Replies to “Book events: 3 Survival Tips for Authors”

  1. Thanks for the tips, Susan! I had no idea Vistaprint did bookmarks and am so excited to check those out! I adore your beautiful book cover. It caught my eye amongst a sea of books at Barnes and Noble right away. I can’t wait to read it!

  2. Postcards are great! If I receive a “save the date” for a book event Before the event, I try to make it to the event. I have favorite authors. When I am at a big bookstore, I would look for the book and if it’s not there, I ask the salesperson. They would say it does not exist then I show them the postcard and say “Yes, the book exists.”


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