Tonight I'll be visiting a book group to talk about my novel, Monarch. Since I've visited a book group before, this shouldn't be entirely crazy-new for me, but it kind of feels that way. The last book group I visited was for Cinders, and about half the group didn't like the book. That was interesting, to say the least, especially since I was very green at being published. In many ways, I still am. This all makes me wonder about why readers want to meet with authors. What makes a signed copy of a book special? And does talking with the author of a book you've read change the way you view that book forever?
I have a few signed books on my shelves, but I'm not sure I value those books any more than others. I ask myself why this is, and I'm thinking it's because if I had autographed copies of my favorite books, I might feel differently. For instance, if I had a signed copy of The Awakening by Kate Chopin, I'd keep that thing in a fire-proof box. Faulkner, yes. Um, F. Scoot Fitzgerald, anyone? Of course, these authors are all dead, and of course those signed copies are extremely valuable. Buy why? A bookstore cannot return a signed copy to a publisher, making that copy a necessary sell for the bookstore, but is it sentimental value that makes a signed copy important to the owner? Is it because the signed copy is rare if the author is dead and only so many copies might exist?
I recently attended Marissa Meyer's book signing for her debut novel, Cinder, and my friend and I tried to purchase copies at our local Barnes & Noble before stopping by the signing (you know, support your bookstore kind of thing...maybe we should have visited an indie store...), but no, all the copies at the bookstore were already signed with lovely little "autographed by the author" stickers on the front. Um, no. I would like to watch the author sign it, thank you. And she did after I bought a copy at the signing. And it has my name in it. And I wonder if that will affect how I read it? I'm really not so sure. Will having attended her signing, meeting her and talking to her, hearing her publishing story first-hand, affect my reading and feelings for the novel?
Who can say.
I think in many ways, a lot of readers look up to authors like celebrities, and that might make these things I'm talking about more special to a reader. If you've published a book, that means you finished a book, and those are two things many people only dream of doing or are in the midst of accomplishing.
And just for fun, here's a YouTube video from the movie, Young Adult. It's a scene concerning signed books and a dried-up author.
What about you? Does meeting or knowing an author change your reading experience? Do you value signed books more than unsigned books? Why?