Discussion: Author Events Problems

So, on Tuesday I went with my friend Sam to see an author event at Books of Wonder. It was initially set up for only Ally Carter, but Amy Christine Parker, Kass Morgan, and Elizabeth Keim eventually joined in on the fun. I've come to accept the fact that as a college student I won't always be able to attend events, but I want to do so when I find the time, so I was stoked to meet Ally for the first time. The more disappointing part in this was the fact that I own every Book Ms. Carter has ever published, on top of Kass Morgan's debut and Amy Christine Parker's latest novel, GATED. If I still lived at home I would have been on that signing line like white on rice. Who doesn't want to meet the Queen of spy novels and the author of one of my most anticipated television shows? I mean, really!

I love this bookstore. So much.
But something stuck out to me at this event. Hell, I'm guilty of it. Most people were there primarily for Ally Carter, if not only Ally Carter. Initially this was her event alone and for some reason the other authors were added in.

While the camaraderie during the Q&A section was downright hilarious and easily made me love hot boys with Australian accents kissing in the woods even more, there was something partially lacking in regards to the other authors at signing time.

It's almost as if some readers shunned them. Books of Wonder had this entire trail of a line leading around the store primarily for Ms. Carter and they just let people trying to get to the other authors cut right down the middle because there were so few of them. To add insult to injury, part of the line actually ended right beside the part of the table that the other authors were sitting at. It's like they nearly got author-shunned come signing time and the stock was almost immediately placed beside them. Most of the questions were geared toward Ally as well. While I welcomed the Ally-dominated event, I can't even begin to say how bad I felt for the other authors. Seriously, these feels are going to be mentioned a lot.

I seriously think this went through some reader's minds
This made me flash back to another signing I attended in the past. Two huge name authors were there with one moderately popular one and then a not-so popular one. My heart went out to the author who was surrounded by lines and had no line of her own. It was not a fun thing to witness, and I'm sure it's not the best thing to experience, which makes me wonder why this happens. Author events are supposed to be fun and uplifting, you're not supposed to walk out twenty or thirty minutes after the signing starts while the line for the New York Times best seller keeps growing.

I went to this event to see all the authors, not just Ally. And my heart went out for all of them once again. Their attempt at exposure almost seemed to potentially backfire because so many reader's were solely focused on a single author instead of wanting to broaden their horizons. I found myself fascinated simply by the discussion, but I suppose this happened because I went into the event open to possibilities instead of having a one-track mind.

Elizabeth Keim is an extremely interesting individual. Her obsession and love of Russia, especially when it was experiencing its Soviet era, was both quirky and entertaining. She easily held my interest.

Because of the premise of this book, I was curious to see her speak, and she definitely made e curious to pick up her book when I find the time. I think it may be one of those hidden gems.

Kass Morgan has this really gorgeous look about her. I loved her hair, her outfit, her makeup, her everything. She's very well-spoken and downright hilarious. I mean, hello! Hot Australian boys kissing in space and in the woods. Who doesn't want that?

I was excited to see her speak because I was curious about her thoughts on the future television series stemming from her debut. While I only gave it three stars, I'm anticipating this series. This is mainly because while the premise and plot of the book was outstanding, I felt as if the book lacked detail that made it read more like a scripted plot and television show instead of a legitimate book. Nevertheless, I'm curious about book two.

Amy Christine Parker was highly entertaining. She was sitting beside Ally, so their banter got everyone laughing.

I'll admit that I did not finish her book, but I still wanted to see her. And that's not to say her book was bad, I didn't finish it because her heroine is not the type of heroine I was in the mood to read when I picked up the book. I think her book requires a certain mind-set because of the creepiness in this cult dominated post-apocalyptic world. 

It was beyond interesting to learn what inspired her to write this book, and I do plan on picking it up in the future when I find myself in the proper mindset. This book is definitely all about the mindset, that belief was confirmed at the signing.

Ally Carter is a New York Times best-selling author. She's an author that millions of kids have grown up with. She's nearly untouchable.

If you ask me, I prefer her HEIST SOCIETY series, but both of her series are my go-to reads for awesome spy novels that get me giggling.

I can also honestly say that she is so awesome you wonder how in the hell she is still single. True. Facts.

I was waiting in the signing line for Ally with my friend primarily because I wanted to meet the author that was heavily responsible for making me the reader I am today. I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU was one of the first books I ever read and adored. I don't even talk to my friend Fay anymore, but to this day I'm thankful that she introduced me to this series. Without this book, I probably would have never found my way to the blogosphere. 

After about 40 numbers (less than half of the people there) were called, Morgan, Parker, and Keim notified the beloved owner and his adorable service dog that they wanted to leave. Why? Because they had nobody else waiting on line for them and had finished signing stock. And, really, this just got me thinking. Those three authors are relatively new and on a completely different level then Ally. A debut author simply can't compare to a New York Times Best-Seller. They're like three chicks trying to march alongside a chicken. Her experience and large fan-base clearly overpowered and overshadowed this event and instead of being given a chance, they were roughly ignored or completely forgotten about.

Which got me thinking...why are they not given a chance? If someone is put alongside your favorite author, aren't you curious about why they are there? What got them there? Don't you want to know about their writing? I do. I went to the event for all four of them, even if I had one of them primarily in mind, and I learned a lot of new things. Hell, new interest for me was generated and a new understanding for some was created as well.

I understand that there's nearly blinding sensation when you're in the presence of a favorite author. Everyone experiences that. Who doesn't fangirl? But just take a deep breath and step back next time. Do you really want to ignore the possibility of finding a new potential favorite? Put yourselves in their shoes...everyone should be given a chance.


  1. My problem with events is that often word does NOT get out about additional authors. In July, I was eagerly anticipating a 3-author event, only to discover by chance the day before that there were 2 more authors scheduled for that event who had not been included in the publicity. Just last week, I showed up to a store a couple hours prior to a signing, only to be told by the staff that another author was participating. I was mad because I had an arc of hers, but it was sitting at home. I get that events are tough for store staff and publicists, but I would love to see a better effort to get everyone's names out in advance so readers know who to expect.

    As for your experience, 1. I almost wish that the other authors hadn't been included simply because this was the last ride for the Gallagher Girls. The swan song, if you will. Of COURSE everyone is there for Ally! GG is so meaningful to so many people. It's true that you really can't compare debuts, even really good ones, to best-selling series. It's not fair to anyone. 2. But since those other authors WERE there, I do wish people had been more thoughtful. Although it may not have been their fault. Again, you show up for your favorite author, and you may not know the others' work at all. There are many open-ended non-specific questions you can ask a panel, true, but if you have a burning question that only applies to one author... I have an almost pathological need to have all authors at evemts sign something for me. I feel guilty if I don't. However, not everybody has funds like I do. I'm not rich by any means, but I have a Grown Up Job that allows me to have a decent enough book budget. Again, people should be thoughtful and respectful, but if you don't know an author or you can't afford to grab their book for the signing, it's hard to keep things on level footing.

    I hope that made sense and wasn't too rambly. I'm sad Amy, Kass, and Elizabeth had a not-so-great night. Here's hoping that their next events are better, and that we all learn a lesson from this.

    Mary @ Mary Had a Little Book Blog

    1. Yeah! Not all authors are publicized which is so annoying. Initially, this was Ally only when I looked it up. I found out about the other 3 day of because they updated it a few days ago or something like that.

      I mean, Ally tried turning it into a full author event. For example, someone asked about her cover girls--mainly geared towards her, but she passed the microphone. None of the other covers had direct models except for one of them though, so it just made it obvious that the event was Ally-centric. And I love Ally, but still!

      I feel guilty if I don't have something for all authors either, but it's something you adjust to with time because you can't just afford everything or it's not your cup of tea or something. I'm a broke college student! I'm not buying a book unless I really want it. I still get in line near the end to talk to them and pick up some swag though.

      I hope their future events are better too <3

  2. I've only been to one signing with this problem so far, and I was actually there to see the Little Author next to Big Name Author. In that case, it was actually nice because I got to talk to Little Author for a minute rather than be ushered through the line very quickly like the people for Big Name Author.

    I completely understand what you mean, though. It might be a little misguided to put a bestselling author alongside not-so-popular-authors. I get that the point is exposure, but I think maybe the authors have to be a little closer in how well established their careers are. As a writer myself who hopes to get published one day, being the Little Author with no line seems completely horrifying and embarrassing. At least the 3 authors at the event you went to were ALL less popular than Ally Carter, so there wasn't just one person left out.

    1. That's so great, though slightly rare! And yes, I adore being able to talk to them, but you can almost see them being antsy and wanting to get out of there out of embarrassment.

      I think that if the 3 of them were together without Ally, it may have worked better. There would have been more focus, more questions...just MORE for THEM. I find it horrifying and embarrassing too :/ You just can't help but feel bad.

  3. As a "little" author who has done events with big name authors, I can share my experience with you. Why do we do events with bigger authors? Two main reasons: 1) often a book store won't want to do an event at all unless there is a big name draw. 2) if a small name/debut author does a solo event or an event with only other small name/debut authors, attendance might be incredibly poor.

    Is it sad to feel shunned during the signing portion of the event? Not as much as you might think. At all my events, I've had people come up to me and gush about how they're now so excited to read my book - a book they would have never heard about or bought if it wasn't for the draw of the big name author. I appreciate the big name authors who have invited me to share in their audience - I might not have gotten the chance to do events at all otherwise.

    1. Unfortunately, I see your point and I wholeheartedly the draw of being with big name authors. The big names were little names once too, you know? I just think you guys should be given more of a chance and more attention instead of being forgotten at some point.

      I think people checking out your book is so great! <3 At times, though, it's hard to know who will be at the event because the bigger names are so publicized that the little names are not often mentioned. It is a huge bummer.

  4. I only sort of know what you mean, because I'm in Canada and visits here by authors are extremely rare. I volunteer at the library and we have teen author festivals. I've gone to three so far, and from what I've encountered, it sucks that little authors don't get the attention, but I think they'd rather have a "big author" there just because the attendance here has been extremely poor for "little author" events. I've felt awful for the authors. It's weird because I always think they're rock stars, and I'm surprised sometimes at how few authors really get the rockstar treatment.

    Great post btw.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  5. I've seen this happen at YALL fest before, but I actually think it's a good thing that debut authors tag along with established ones at panels. I think it's a marketing strategy. Because if Kass just had her own panel, she wouldn't have had nearly the turnout as Carter did. So by piggy-backing, she's able to promote her book to people who may not have heard of her before. That way she's getting the word out. So I never look at it as author shunning or anything like that. Just being there is good promotion -- and maybe next time when she has more books published, she'll have a bigger crowd and turnout. Although, it is probably awkward for the author at some points, but I'd say it's a big honor to just be there and have that opportunity.

  6. I went to a signing at Books of Wonder last October and they had 7 authors, all fairly well known, but a few that were higher ranking were Rachel Cohn and Libba Bray. I just feel that the way they set up their events/signings is weird. They had this loooonnnggg line and it was mainly for Libba Bray, and they would let you get out of line to get the other authors signature, and then let you back into your original spot. Gina Demico was one of the not so popular authors there, and it was strange seeing such a huge amount of people focus solely on the one or two authors. My big thing with signings is the physical set up. Instead of having authors sitting at tables that are a regular height and having them talk up to us standing, why don't they have authors sitting at higher tables so when we meet them, it isn't awkward? Bar table heights, I mean. I feel it would be less intimidating for both parties to have the interaction at eye level instead of what we experience now. I know it has to do with what the bookstore has available in terms of seating, but that one aspect really sticks out at each signing I've been to.

  7. This post really broke my heart! I've only been to a few author events, but I'd be the type that I'd probably go chat with the lesser-known authors just to make them feel welcome. It makes me feel so bad to think of being in their shoes - you've put your book/s out into the world and you're there waiting for someone to want to see you / have you sign...and then they're all flocking to someone else. Oh that would make me cry buckets (once I was home and in private.) I really hope someone went to those authors at the other signings and spoke to them and made them smile.

  8. I totally agree with what you said. I'm ashamed to say it, but I was one of the people who shunned the unpopular authors at my first books signing. I feel so bad about it (just looking back at it). I can't even imagine the thoughts going through all their minds. It totally breaks my heart that great authors get "outshined" when they deserve a chance to be appreciated. This is one post I won't be forgetting, I'll definitely keep it in my mind from now on!

  9. I was at this signing as well. I definitely was there for two of the smaller authors, not Ally Carter. Yet when my number was called the owner told me that I could go right up to the authors that I wanted to sign since Ally Carter was not on my list of books that I bought to the signing with me. Also the other thing that bothered me was that I felt like the other authors did kind of get the shaft. The conversations were really fun to listen to. Nice post.

  10. Oooh, yeah, I always feel SO bad when, at a signing, there's one author getting all the attention, or, almost worse, all the authors BUT one getting attention. That happened at the Jackson Pearce/Elizabeth Eulberg/Jen Calonita signing. Calonita was just sitting there, and I felt so bad, but still didn't want to buy her book. :/