Booking Through Thursday: Live and In Person

btt2.jpg The Booking Through Thursday question for this week is:

  • Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? Gotten their autograph?
  • How about an author you felt only so-so about, but got their autograph anyway? Like, say, at a book-signing a friend dragged you to?
  • How about stumbling across a book signing or reading and being so captivated, you bought the book?

I know this must sound strange, but I have always felt funny about getting an author’s autograph. I just feel awkward about it. Then I always wrestle with what to say. And I don’t want to stand in a long line. I’ve only gotten one author’s autograph, and that was Elisabeth Elliot’s. I’ve read most of her books and heard her speak at least a couple of times. One of those times I did stand in line to get her autograph. As she took my book and I glanced at the table stacked with her books, I said, “How do you find time to write all those books?” (How lame is that?) She said, “You don’t find time; you make time.” And that was my big moment with Elisabeth Elliot. 🙂

Our local Christian bookstore has fairly frequent author events, from panel discussions with Q&A afterward to book signings. So at those events I have heard speak Terri Blackstock, Beverly Lewis, Karen Kingsbury, Tracie Peterson, Ted Dekker, Lisa Welchel, and a few more I’m forgetting. Those events were a lot of fun and I enjoyed hearing and seeing the authors, but I’ve never mustered the courage to stand in line and meet them. I always wrestle with what to say. “I really liked your book” sounds so lame, though I imagine authors love to hear it. Then what do you say if you didn’t like it, or did but had a few “issues” with it? (Sometimes I think too much!) I do think a book signing with a line of people behind you is not the place to have an in-depth discussion, issues or not.

By the way, those events are great marketing tools (hint to bookstore owners. 🙂 ) I’ve gone to see an author I liked and ended up buying books by another author who was there that I had never heard of before.

Updated to add: I just remembered meeting one more! Bill Myers came to my son’s school to speak a few years back. My youngest son loved his Agent Dingeldorf series then and brought them to be autographed. Parents were invited to the event but I think I may have been the only one to come. I came into the auditorium early and sat in the back to be out of the way when students came in. He came in and chatted here and there with people who came in, and he came back and asked me who I was. I answered “A parent.” (Duh. I am such a brilliant conversationalist!) We talked for just a few minutes, but I don’t remember about what. I enjoyed hearing his presentation to the students.

Other than that the only author I’ve “met” was one just inside Barnes and Noble trying to have a book signing, but no one was there. He was greeting people as they came in and telling generally what his book was about. That was really awkward! I kind of felt sorry for him. I don’t remember his name or his book. It probably would have been nice to have stopped and talked with him a bit, but I had planned to only dash in and out that day and my mind was on what I needed to do.

So….what would you say if you met a favorite author?

20 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Live and In Person

  1. I only ever think of something interesting to say after the event! I can never think of good questions for Q&A sessions either. And like you, I don’t think the book signing line is the place for interesting conversation.

    So what would I say? If I really had to say anything, I expect it would be “Oh, I really like your books”!

  2. I’m like you – as you saw from my post on this question, part of my problem is that I don’t know what to say. Thanks for your comment and I hope you enjoy Adrian Plass’s books if you do read any.

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog!
    As posted on my blog, I’ve only ever met (in person) Elizabeth George. But, of late, with all the book reviews I’ve had the privilege of doing, I’ve gotten to “talk” to many authors via e-mail. I’ve come to find that most authors are just like you and me, pretty down to earth, and easy to talk to.
    Those author events at your local Christian bookstore sound fantastic. We live kinda out in the boonies, so I don’t see our local store doing much like that, though I certainly wish they would!

  4. I would love to have heard Ted Dekker. I’m slowly working my way through his books. I have a few of Terri’s too but have yet to get to them on my ever-growing book pile.

  5. Wow, I would have loved to have been able to go listen to any of those authors. I have never been to a book signing or met any authors in person. I have emailed a little bit with Brandilyn Collins but have never met her in real life although I would love to.

  6. I heard Elisabeth Elliot speak in Anderson about 9 years ago–then my 10-year-old son asked to come meet her afterward as he had just read a biography of her husband. He was unfortunately going through a wrestling mania phase at the time (introduced to him by a neighbor, grrrrr!!!). I went home, picked him up, brought him in to meet her–and her first question was “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I was EXTREMELY relieved when he did NOT answer “A WWF wrestler.”!!!

  7. I know I’ll be very nervous if I do have the chance to meet my favourite authors! Then again, I’m still hoping to attend a booksigning event. It’ll be fun and not to mention that it’ll be a great way to know more about the authors. Happy BTT!

  8. Well, I thanked him for his wonderful books and asked him some questions about his characters. He (Steve Hamilton) was friendly and started the conversation, so I’m sure they’re aware that fans might be a bit tongue tied. With such a good first experience, I probably won’t hesitate to go to another signing.


  9. I’m not sure I would know what to say either, so maybe it’s just as well I’ve never been to one. Isn’t that strange how a lot of people feel that they wouldn’t have anything to say (or at least not anything interesting). I mean, we are all intelligent human beings (given that we read a lot!!) and authors are just people too. Seems like it shouldn’t be that difficult!

  10. I get google alerts when my name comes up on the internet, so I saw your post. Just wanted you to know that I would have loved to meet you at a book-signing! You have no idea how often we authors sit awkwardly at book tables wishing someone would talk to us. We get so anxious if we’re not selling a lot of books, because the bookseller usually gets stuck with all those books, not to mention the expenses of getting us there. We’re also very insecure, so we never get tired of people saying they like our books! We rarely get that much feedback. We sit in isolation, feeling like no one reads what we write. It’s great to see the faces of actual people who do. Next time, don’t be shy. Remember that we’re much more anxious than you are! 🙂

  11. I second everything Terri said. I’m more newly published than she is, but I write suspense, too. We really do love it when people take a minute to stop at our table and say “hi.” Frankly, we don’t expect scintillating conversation. A frieindly face goes a long way, whether you’re interested in buying our books or not!

  12. Folks in the US are so lucky!…

    My hubby asks me this question a lot too because he sees me reading ALL (well, most of the time), and I answer exactly the same thing: You don’t find time (dear); you make time. And then my family wonders where I find the time, work aside, to read, blog, and do photography. Again, the same answer. LOL.

  13. Hey, a writer popping in here to state emphatically that “I really liked your book.” is NOT lame! Are you kidding? We love having people tell us they liked our book! Make that statement and watch us grin and preen and decide that you are our very best friend in the world. Actually, almost anything you say makes us happy, because as Terri and Jill said, most of the time we are sitting there just hoping someone will come by and say hello so we don’t look like the loner at the corner high school lunchroom table. Especially those of us who don’t have a gazillion books. The strangest comment I ever received was by a woman who, when she heard I write Christian novels, picked up my book and glanced at the cover, saying, “I just love Karen Kingsbury. But this doesn’t look anything like a Karen Kingsbury book.” She set it down and walked away. (sigh) Another great comment I’ve received more than once: “Uh, where’s the bathroom?” So as long as you don’t say either of those things, we will welcome you as our new best friend.

  14. How refreshing to see this discussion. Chiming in as another author, I have to tell you, many of us feel as tongue-tied and shy as any reader at a booksigning. I love signings with multiple authors, but dread individual ones. They put us at a table near the door, and people walk in, eyes forward, steps hurried to get past us in case they might accidentally make eye contact and have to acknowledge us. We smile and try to look inviting. We feel sorry for the booksellers, who’ve gone to the trouble to order a stack of our books and host us. A few authors are good at engaging strangers, but many of us are introverts, especially in a public situation. Giving a talk or reading is a bit easier for me, as it gives me something to do. A friendly smile is so nice to see. A few authors are popular enough to get lines, but many of us are thrilled to have a few people stop to chat, even if you haven’t read our books or ever heard of us before. And who knows. You just might like our books.

  15. Wow! An author’s event right here! 🙂 Thanks so much to all of you for your comments. And yes, this discussion has encouraged me to actually approach an author next time rather than just buying her books and slipping out the door! I’m also glad to see some author’s names that I am not familiar with so that I can go look for your books.

  16. hey, I think we’re having a cyber signing! Now you see that we are just like you. Just as insecure. LOL Maybe it would help to approach us if you realized we live for any word of support. LOL

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