One of my favorite parts of being an English teacher/librarian is going to conferences and meeting authors. Over the years, I have honed my “author meeting techniques” so I get the most out of my 2–3 minutes with the author and don’t come off as the lunatic “fan girl” that I secretly am.
1. Have Cash for Books
At many conferences, most notably National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and International Literacy Association (ILA), the author’s books are sold as a very low cost (between $2 and $12 usually). However, most publishers will only take cash. Often, if you purchase one of the author’s books, you will also get an advanced copy of their newest book free. So bring cash.
2. Arrange a Photo Ahead of Time
I always try to talk to the person in front or behind me in line to arrange my photo with the author. So many of my students love to see my photo with the author, and I find the visual speaks louder than the autograph in the book. It’s important to have the photo-taking coordinated, rather than having to ask someone at the last minute and then holding up the autograph line.
3. Consider a Photo Prop
A few years ago, I had a student ask me why I had so many pictures of myself hanging in the library, when I was really trying to highlight the authors I had met. Therefore, I printed a headshot of Rutherford B. Hayes and glued it to a foam board (our school is named Rutherford B. Hayes High School, after the president who grew up in our small town of Delaware, Ohio).
I bring “Ruddie B” with me to major conferences when I meet authors. The authors get a kick out of it (silly poses and the like) and we get great photos to put in the library. I tell the students that the whole school gets to meet the author when I bring “Ruddie B” with me. Consider bringing yours school’s mascot with you for great photos!
4. Have a Key Signature & Post-it Notes
Now as the school librarian, I have all my books autographed, “For Rutherford’s Readers and Writers.” Previously, for my classroom library, I had authors write, “For Ms. Ressler’s Readers and Writers.” I always carried a post-it to have my phrase written out ahead of time so authors know how to write the autograph. I love showing students the autograph and find that it encourages them to continue to read and write.
5. Bring Bookplates for Student Autographs.
If you know that students want their books autographed, but you can’t bring all the books with you (there are too many books to purchase at the conference), bring bookplates so the author can deliver the personal autographs without the weight of the books.
BONUS TIP: Tag authors on social media with your photos (and thank them for the autographs) and they will often “like” it and “favor” your posts. This is huge for your students (and usually for you as well).
Overall, when your two minutes come to meet the author:
Tell the author why you love his/her books (or look forward to reading his/her books if you haven’t read anything yet).
Get your book’s autograph (and bookplates if needed).
Take your photo with the author.
Thank the author.
Stick around to take your line mate’s photo with the author if arranged.
Feel free to tag me in your photos; I would love to see how your author meetings go!