Off I Go

This is my last post for EMU’s Debuts.  I thought about writing a touching post about how much I’ve learned over the last year and a half, or maybe how close I’ve grown to my fellow EMUs.

All of which is true.  But nah.  J doesn’t do touching.  I’m gonna head off into the sunset with some practical advice: How to build your event bag.

My very first event as a published author was in a bookstore with two other debut authors.  I showed up with a stack of bookmarks and a very brave smile.  Before the event even started, a girl brought me a copy of my book and shyly asked me to sign it.  I scrambled through my purse for a pen.  It was out of ink.  My husband had to lend me his.

My next event was a little better.  I had a pen this time – purple, bought special to match my endpapers – but then someone asked for a signed bookmark, and the regular ink wouldn’t show up on the dark background.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have these things.  It was that they were in the closet and on my desk and in ten other places.  And more to the point, it was the lingering sense of unreality that I would be doing author visits on a regular basis because, well, I was an author now.

So it was time.  I’d come full circle.

I pulled out my favorite tote bag and put in all the things I wish I’d had during those first few events:

* Pens.  Lots of them.  Some purple, some plain black, and my silver paint pen for signing bookmarks.

* A copy of my book.  Sometimes at library events, all the copies were checked out.  And I made sure to clearly mark it so there was no confusion if I was in a bookstore.

A sock of bookmarks doubles as a personal safety device.

I was not kidding about the sock.

* Bookmarks.  Some signed, some unsigned.  Sometimes you just want to hand someone a signed bookmark, but some people like to see you sign it, or you can personalize it just like you might a book.  I keep mine rubber-banded together in a sock, partly to protect the corners but mostly because I like saying “sock of bookmarks.”

* Other swag, including Class of 2k12 and Apocalypsie swag.  Never hurts to pimp fellow writers!

* My calendar.  You never know when you might need to schedule the next event.

* A notebook.  You never know when you’ll have to wait, or when an idea will strike.

My event bag hangs on the doorknob of my closet.  Now whenever I’m invited to an event, all I have to do is grab that bag.

I can sit down at any table, stand at any podium, walk through any audience because I know everything I need is there, ready for whatever the day brings.

So off I go.



Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise

27 responses to “Off I Go

  1. NOOOOOOOOOO! You can’t leave!!!!!

    I love your “Books Not Boys” totebag and your sock of bookmarks. I hope someday I will get to see them… and you… in person. I have really enjoyed getting to know you and “The Wicked and the Just” over the past year or so. Looking forward to reading your next novel, and the one after that, and the one after that…



  2. Cynthia Levinson

    J, a sock! I love it. And, the whole idea of an Event Bag! I love that, too. I’m forever scrounging in my purse for the baggie of bookplates, the slightly bent postcards, the silver pen that I’ve stored right side up rather than tip-side down… I’m heading to Houston tomorrow for an event, and my assignment today is to make an Event Bag. Thanks!


    • J. Anderson Coats

      I recommend adorning your bag with buttons you encounter on your travels. I have two so far. They make a satisfying clattery noise.


  3. Congrats, J!
    Here’s hoping we cross paths at an event sometime soon. Thanks to this post, I’ll have my bag ready 🙂


  4. Mike Jung

    Sock of bookmarks. Sock of bookmarks. Say, that IS fun to say! SOCK OF BOOKMARKS!
    It’s been a pleasure, J. Don’t go too far.


  5. Helpful to the very last post. Thank you, J! Good luck with everything going forward.


  6. I have something similar (though I tend to unpack it — not sure why). Sometimes, though, I lug around a fake-o sod brick (2’x1’x4″), which adds to the scramble factor


    • J. Anderson Coats

      Maybe one day I’ll write a book where I have a reason to drag around fake relics and gross out all the kids.


  7. How fitting that you’d sign off with practical advice–I’ve gotten so much from your posts over the past year and a half. They’ve been a useful primer for the road ahead. Thanks to our local gango pub nights, I don’t have to say goodbye, just good luck on what will be a long and fruitful journey.


  8. Congrats on all of your success! Thanks for the tips.


  9. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    I still remember back to that day at Book People in Austin when you and I stood watching the EMLA book signing, saying, “Some day, that will be us!” That “some day” has arrived for you and will be here for me in less than two weeks! It’s been fun making this journey with you and the other Emus Debuts, J.! Looking forward to meeting again one day.

    Now if only I could find a bag big enough to hold a rokkaku kite…


    • J. Anderson Coats

      What if you somehow turned the kite into a backpack? That would be pretty darn cool.

      Looking forward to your launch party!


  10. Thanks, J … you’ve motivated me to restock my bag and look for some clean socks.


  11. J,

    I think you need to trademark that sock idea, it looks like it might be going viral. I have to admit that I have an urge to wrap myself around your leg and scream and whine as you try to get out the door here–like my daughter did at age 2 when I tried to go to the hospital to give birth to her brother. This journey has been so much sweeter with the EMUs! And thank you for having those awkward signature moments, so that I can take notes and don’t have to! The ready-to-go bag is so very smart. And the sock is so stripey. Can’t think of a better way for you to head out into the world!


    • J. Anderson Coats

      Awkward I’ve got. In spades.

      And you can’t get rid of me that easily. I plan to haunt your launch party with Photoshop and miniskirts and the theme “Katerina’s Fish.” I do live near a market that is renowned for the throwing of fish. I have a lot of ideas.


  12. I never thought of the calendar and notebook – thank you! This is very timely as I have my first event in just a few weeks. GULP.


  13. I have a feeling I’m going to spend all of my next advance on silver paint pens!


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