I mean, what were you THINKING? #RTD author event


#RTDAnd now time for even more Fun in Literary Life… Threads, in particular, has been exploding this week regarding an author signing/book lovers’ event in the USA which seems to have been a bit on the messy side, to say the least. In fact, it sounds like the book fan equivalent of Fyre Festival. Yeah, I am somewhat sorry for a lot of the people wailing online about their experience: it was clearly frustrating, stressful and in some cases pretty frightening, let alone a costly lesson regarding things that sound a bit too good to be true. Some postings suggest, though, that the same people did a version of the same event last year, which was also an expensive clusterfuck, which does make me wonder: what were they thinking?

I’ve attended a few author signings, though decided around 18 months ago that I wasn’t going to do any more of that specific type of event: they do not work particularly well for me even though some have been fun. The ones that were really grim didn’t get written about on here at the time and I will not be mentioning any names now. My approach has always been that every gig’s a gamble, and I therefore tend not to gamble more than I can afford to lose. The unsuccessful author signings I went to may have had organisers who were enthusiastic but inexperienced (and of course in some cases the events were fine in themselves, just not appropriate for me) but they were nothing like the sort of hardcore grifting and incompetence that seems to have gone on in Denver.

#RTDUK-based author events have tended to be small-scale and friendly and, most of all, fairly affordable: table pitches with lunch included around £30-50 and admission for fans/punters considerably less, though sometimes there was an option of paying more to have lunch and/or a goody bag of some kind. The American model seems to have slightly odd, slightly cult-like vibes around it, with a whiff of MLM girl-bossery: plunging into the more meandering discussions of this event on Twitter brings up multiple mentions of how authors who attend these events rarely make a profit and how it’s a ‘networking opportunity’. I can’t help thinking some of this stuff is just another version of get-rich-quickery where the real way to access more money is to offer consultancy-type services rather than shift actual merch.

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