Thursday, April 25, 2024

Another Day, Another Controversy

Posted by: PG Forte

 I am NOT here to talk about the events last week in Denver. First of all because I wasn't there, secondly because plenty of people (some of whom ALSO were not there) have posted huge manifestos on the subject. I have nothing to add and I don't care to speculate. There's enough of that going on in the world right now. On the other hand, last week's events, coupled with a plethora of "memories" of former conventions that showed up in my various social media feeds in the same time frame, left me thinking a lot about the topic of Author Convention/Book Signing/Reader Events in general.

So here's a list of random reflections on the subject. 

1. There are several things authors want from conventions. They want to meet readers who already love their work as well as the readers who will discover them and go on to become super fans. They want to hang out with their author buddies talking books and drinking wine FOR HOURS. They want to network, attend seminars and learn about new opportunities. They want to be wined and dined by their publisher, their editor, their agent--preferably all three.  Alternately, they want to be wooed by publishers, editors, agents, etc. They would really like to sell some books. And they also want to be able to sneak away (when the peopling becomes too much) in order to write in peace.

2. No matter where the event is held, the venue will fail to provide enough staff, especially in the first few days. They will specifically underestimate how much staff will be needed in the restaurants and bars. They will not comprehend how extremely verbose and sedentary authors are. We will spend hours gathering in bars and restaurants talking books and drinking wine. Yes, hours. Yes, every day. 

I mean, think about it. We routinely spend all day, every day conversing with imaginary people. The biggest difference with conventions is that we're only responsible for a fraction of the conversations we take part in, rather than doing all the talking, all on our own. 

If you are the event producer, you will likely have warned the venue that this will be the case. If this is not your first time producing this type of event, you will understand that there is nothing you can say to convince them of this. 

3. If you're the type of author for whom thousands of readers will be willing to plunk down good money for the chance to stand on line for hours in order to get a minute of your time, you probably shouldn't attempt to sign books at a large event. Show up. Chat with your friends. Allow your publisher/editor/agent/etc to pamper you.  Maybe take part in a small, ticketed event where you meet with readers. 

If you attempt to sign in the same place, at the same time as everyone else no one will be happy. Readers will spend hours on line in hopes of getting your signature on books they've brought with them from home.  You won't make new sales. They won't get to buy new books or discover new authors and possibly they won't even get your signature. The event promoters will call you a diva no matter how you behave. The other authors will hate you. 

Oh, yes we will. Especially if your line of readers stretches for hours in front of our table making it impossible for anyone to see us or talk to us or buy our books. You're wasting our time. You're forcing us to spend hours smiling at people who have absolutely no interest in us or our books. Hours that we could have spent in the bar talking shop, plotting new series, drinking more wine...etc.

4. Invariably, there will be problems. Things will get lost, stolen, broken, misplaced. Things will be said. Many of those things will be misinterpreted. In large part this will be because all the introverts will have hit the wall, become depleted of energy and will start to spiral.  And all the extroverts will be drunk, at this point, on the energy that they've siphoned off the introverts (sorry, not sorry) and begin to act out.  And almost as invariably, the event producers will attempt to assign blame to someone else. To anyone else, really. Authors. Readers. Volunteers. The venue. 

My personal belief is that the event producers need to shoulder the majority of the blame because all these same things happen at every single event. They should be expected. 


Anyway, that's about it. I don't know if or where or when I'll ever attend another big author event. This makes me sad because--problems aside--it was always so much fun and I miss it horribly. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...