Later this month, Romance Writers of America (RWA) will be holding its national conference in Atlanta, Georgia. A highlight of the event is the "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing, a book signing featuring 400+ authors, to be held Wednesday, July 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. The Literacy Autographing is free admission and open to the public. Authors happily pose for photos and sign books which are sold to readers at face value with proceeds from the evening's sales donated to literacy charities. It's a win-win for everyone!
As I prepare for this year's conference, I can't help but think back seven years to the last time RWA brought its national conference to Atlanta. It was my first big book signing and I was filled with delight...and terror...at the thought of more than 400 romance authors in one room. I've since attended many of RWA's Literacy Autographings but, as I prepared to drive into Atlanta seven years ago, I had no idea what to expect.
|PJ & Christina Dodd - 2006|
People employ different strategies to make sure they get all the books on their list. One is to be in line outside the doors of the room where the book signing is held at least three hours before they open. At my first signing, I arrived about 30 minutes early only to discover that there were already about 800 people in line!
Another strategy is to go straight to your "Top Five" authors and make sure you get their books. (I got the photo but missed out on the book I wanted from Christina Dodd. The penalty for not going there first!) Once that need is satisfied you can wander the rest of the room at your leisure.
|Robyn Carr - 2010|
|Kristan Higgins - 2010|
If you plan to buy several books, I'd suggest bringing a few large bags with you so you don't have to juggle a stack of books while navigating through throngs of excited readers. (Many stores sell sturdy cloth bags for $1.99 or less.) At every RWA signing, I notice a few people who bring rolling book bags or small suitcases. I do not recommend this. There just isn't enough room and somebody's poor toes almost always pay the price of someone trying to drag a rolling case stuffed with heavy books through the crowd. (Unfortunately, I know this from personal experience.)
|Tessa Dare - 2011|
If you're not a registered conference attendee, you won't have a name badge so why not make your own? There are likely to be readers at the signing that you've "met" online. Using card stock, make a name badge with your on screen name as well as your full name then pin the badge where it will be easily seen by others. You might be surprised by the number of people you'll meet!
|Eloisa James - 2010|
Here's a tip you may not have thought of. Address labels! Tuck a few in your bag to sign up for drawings or mailing lists along the way. So much easier, and faster, than searching for a pen and writing down your name and address multiple times. Another essential to take along with you is business cards. They don't have to be fancy; a plain card with the essential information is all you need and what better way to be remembered than to hand someone your card. You can have cards made quickly and inexpensively at places like Vistaprint or Staples or do it yourself on your computer. Easy and effective!
|PJ & Lisa Kleypas|
Lastly, do not forget to take your smile. These are romance readers! They understand you, share your love of happy endings, know exactly what you're talking about when you mention the dreamy hero from a well-known author's latest book. Talk to the people standing in line with you. Introduce yourself. Chances are very good that they are just as nervous as you are.
Are you going to this year's conference or Literacy Autographing? If so, please let us know so we can meet you in person. If you aren't going to this year's Literacy Autographing, you may be wondering what this blog has to do with you. Plenty!! You see, RWA National is one of the places where we re-stock the wondrous prize closet from which we pull books to send to you, our wonderful readers, throughout the year. So, now's your chance to have a say in what books you will have an opportunity to win here at The Romance Dish.
Who are the top five authors from whom you would most like to win a signed book?
What are the five current books (published in 2012-2013) of which you would most like to win a signed copy?
That's all you have to do! And, to thank you for helping us I'll randomly select four people leaving comments (by midnight July 4th) to win a package of books from our current prize supply. I have to make room for all those new books we'll be bringing home from conference!