Publishers, agents, and publicists are taking a cue from the film and music industries by making their authors into superstars, at least in the eyes of their fans. By scheduling red carpet-style events for readers to engage with the authors who write their favorite characters and stories, the industry is working to increase exposure and make authors an even bigger household name.
Readers used to discover favorite books and authors by casually browsing the shelves of their local booksellers or reading the review sections of print newspapers. As both of those entities slowly (and sadly) disappear for consumers, replaced by online retail websites and book recommendation metadata, professionals are working to put their authors “out there” and in front of would-be readers with elaborate book tours.
An upcoming event, called the Belles on Wheels tour, is staged by Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster) and will feature authors Christina Lauren, Kresley Cole, Kyra Davis, Alice Clayton, Lisa Renee Jones, Emma Chase, S.C. Stephens, Krisen Proby, Jennifer Probst, and Katy Evans. The tour bus will travel across the southeastern United States and make stops in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Greenwood (MS), and New Orleans. Along the way, those authors will be signing books, staging readings, and attending meet-and-greets with reader fans.
Similarly, Penguin Random House UK just announced that it has sold over 10,000 tickets to meet one of its bestselling authors, Caitlin Moran.
While innovation is key to staying relevant in the minds and interests of readers, some experts warn that publishers and industry professionals shouldn’t be too quick to jump on the hype. There’s something to be said for the stoic and stately bookstore, and some readers may be put off by the glitzy approach to author-reader interaction. But with more data coming out that shows many consumers are more apt to buy a DVD than a book, modeling this type of fandom after movie goers is not too far fetched.