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I've been to over a dozen (many of them at the Southern Festival of Books) Larry Send a noteboard - 11/07/2013 06:54:46 PM

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What really is the point of them? Everyone who comes to an author's signing has likely already read the book, or is planning to read it, so you're probably not selling more copies. I don't personally think that I would enjoy listening to an author read from a book for thirty minutes, and if I were the author I know for a fact that I would not care to read from my book in front of a crowd for that long — yet plenty of other people seem to feel differently, and author readings are fairly standard. Is there something about the experience that I'm missing, having never attended one?

It varies greatly from author to author, but generally the reading itself takes up less than half of the time. There typically is a Q&A session with the audience (in the case of Gaiman, this was often played up for comedic effect), with the focus being on discussing how certain works came to be, approaches to writing (I didn't include because I already knew it, but Gaiman talked about how he writes long-hand and uses a differently-colored fountain pen for each day that he writes), future works, etc.

With the size and nature of Gaiman's audience, there is a theatrical performance aspect, with the audience actively participating. With other authors, there is more of a back-and-forth discussion on the "background" elements of writing/publishing, which for some like myself is intriguing.

I should note that Gaiman probably also reads as long as he does because he's good enough that his voice is used for many of the audiobook versions of his tales. Most others have read for around 5-15 minutes and then talked about the genesis of their works, followed by Q&A before an hour or so would be up and they would set up for the signing. The reason why I attend them is to learn more about the authors/works and then to get books signed. I bought five books last year at the Southern Festival of Books after I heard the authors speak, so there is that as well, I suppose.

Illusions fall like the husk of a fruit, one after another, and the fruit is experience. - Narrator, Sylvie

Je suis méchant.
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