Tomorrow, I plan on heading over to Houston's Murder by the Book store and pick up Duane Swierczynski's latest novel, Expiration Date. I'll have it on hand when he visits Houston in June and I'll get him to sign it. That's perhaps the best part about being a reader of a particular author: the meeting, the greeting, and the attending of a talk. Swierczynski's talk on the Severence Package tour was very good and it was my first brush with a published author I really liked. What was even neater was that he had read my review of SP and he thanked me personally. That's some awesome feedback, let me tell you.
Back in January 2009, Charles Ardai visited Houston. He bought prize giveaways (I won nothing), a PowerPoint presentation, and a nice, solid prepared speech where he talked about Hard Case Crime, cover art, and the then upcoming Gabriel Hunt books. I walked out of the bookstore that night completely satisfied. I received something I could not get in any other way.
Other authors have failed to impress. They show up, no presentation created, take a few questions, sign books, and get out of the store. And I'm enough of a book geek to know many of the answers being asked of the author. Rather disappointing, all things considered.
The talk. As readers, what do we really expect from authors at book signings? What should we expect? I'll admit, I prefer the prepared speech variety. My mother recently attended an author talk with one of her favorite authors. The author (I forgot the name) spoke about the writing life, what it's like to research and write multiple series, and gave sneak peaks at upcoming works. Then she took questions and, later, signed every book. My mom had a blast!
Book signings don't need to be rock concerts. But I do think they should provide the reading audience with something special, something they can't get in any other medium. What do you think?