Monday, March 22, 2010

In Praise of Author Events

by Pamela

I’ve had the privilege of attending a few author talks and book signings over the years. Not only do I go whenever I can, the women of What Women Write regularly support authors who make their way to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

Friday night Joan, Julie, Kim and I trekked to the Dallas Museum of Art to see and hear Melanie Benjamin as she promoted her new book Alice I Have Been. Kim interviewed her here on the blog and mentioned to Melanie we would be attending. Melanie suggested dinner afterward and we eagerly agreed to accompany her.

Author events I’ve attended have run the gamut—from a folding table set up in an out-of-the-way corner of a book store to an auditorium filled with enthusiastic fans. Melanie had the benefit of being tied in to a museum-wide promotion of Alice in Wonderland, with activities running throughout the museum all evening. Her presentation was well-received by several hundred people (by my estimation) and the line for the book signing stretched down the hallway.

True to her promise, Melanie joined Joan, Kim and me for dinner, and we chatted like old friends until the restaurant closed. Melanie shared insights into the publishing industry and offered encouragement about our own writing journeys.

Why attend author events?

As a writer, I feel a bit of an obligation to support those paving the way to publication before me. As a reader, I love hearing an author tell about how the seeds were planted that grew into a treasure for me to hold in my hands.

During Melanie’s presentation she shared how an afternoon spent viewing an exhibit at The Art Institute of Chicago transformed her from a little-known writer of chick-lit to an in-demand historical fiction author. The transformation wasn’t instantaneous. Like most creative people, she had a problem leaving her comfort zone, but when she took that leap of faith, she never looked back.

The exhibit, Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll, featured photos taken by the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—among them, pictures of Alice Liddell, the child who inspired the famous story. The photos haunted Melanie and years later, she decided to tell her interpretation of Alice’s story: Alice I Have Been.

Over dinner she shared more about her writing career, overcoming losing her first agent only to be inherited by an agent who admitted to not liking her book. Eventually she landed another agent who has championed her writing and landed her a two-book deal.

Everyone’s publishing story is unique, but listening to Melanie’s path to success simultaneously encouraged and discouraged me. As long as you endeavor to write the best book possible, your odds of becoming a published author drastically increase but, so many obstacles stand in your way, it’s surely not for the meek. Ultimately I found Melanie’s enthusiasm contagious—as she talked about her newest project, the looming deadline she’s trying to meet while promoting Alice, the foreign rights for her current title, the cover art she clearly loves.

To keep up with author events in my area, I signed up for email alerts from And I'm carving a special nook into my bookshelf to house autographed book copies--so I don't lend them out! (Does anyone have my signed Elizabeth Berg novel?!)

Do you attend author events/book signings? Which were your favorites?


  1. I like the idea of a special shelf--must work on that!

    In addition to Melanie Benjamin, I loved meeting Jamie Ford and Adriana Trigiani. (By the way, does anyone have my signed copy of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet?)

  2. Ummmm ... I might, Pamela!!!! >:-} I know I have one of your EB books! Still unread. Nice post.

  3. I don't have your EB novel - I checked!

    It was great fun to see Melanie and hang out with her for awhile after her presentation. Just wish we had ordered twice the tapas!

  4. Great post, Pam. I so wish I could have gone with all of you. Thankfully, Kim got me a signed copy of Alice I Have Been. Can't wait to read it. I've attended several author events/book signings. I especially enjoyed listening to and chatting with Billie Letts, one of my favorite authors. I'll always treasure what she wrote in my copy of Shoot the Moon. Where the Heart Is remains among my top favorite books.

  5. Thanks, guys, but I'm pretty sure the Elizabeth Berg book has been missing for years. I loan my stash out pretty freely.

    I've communicated with authors online as well, but nothing beats listening to them in person and forging a connection.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...