Ever have an experience like this? You hurriedly finish work just in time to scramble around in the kitchen making a quick dinner, inhale it while wondering if everything is packed in your “author bag/box/container” and then throw kisses over your shoulder to family as you roar away to the evening’s author event.
Is all this rushing and stressing to set up and then attend author events really worth it? It depends.
There is something magical about being able to interact with readers, particularly readers who enjoy your books. In a career where much of one’s time is spent interacting with a laptop more than people, making those real-life connections is refreshing and uplifting. It can push on a writer who has been dreading the next chapter to be written or edited, encourage the author who just received a harsh critique from another writer or spur one’s creative energy. It’s also a wonderful way to get to know what readers like and don’t like, new trends that are emerging in the literary world, and to be a help to would-be authors. Nothing is as fun as being asked writing/publishing questions, is it? And helping others on their way to finish that short story, novel or poem is a great feeling.
On the other hand, there is a lot of time and effort involved in author events. Planning, organizing, promoting and then commuting to and attending the event itself–it can be a large chunk of time depending on the venue. Plus there is no guarantee that anyone will show up or if they do, that they will buy a book or even choose to read one of your books in the future. It’s probably more likely but certainly not guaranteed.
So what’s an author to do? More entrepreneurial-minded authors might say something sensible like, “Well, take a look at the ROI,” (that’s Return on Investment, a business term I know because of the freelance work I do). “If it’s not making you X than let it go.” And then there are the creative souls who want to share their work with the world. We have, after all, spent weeks, months and sometimes years crafting this artwork. Why would we choose not to see people’s reactions to it in person? To interact with the very people we wrote the book for?
But is our time better spent in focusing on our next writing project? Does it make sense to spend five hours on one event when that time could have been used to promote our book online or work on the next title?
What do you think? How many author events do you choose to do each year and why do you choose to participate? What have been some drawbacks to attending author events? Any unexpected positive surprises?
J.P. Choquette pens her Green Mountain Thrillers from northwestern Vermont where she also lives. In her free time she enjoys playing in the dirt, walking, reading and drinking hot sweetened beverages. . . but not all at the same time.