Charging YOU money to attend a book signing! - New York Times Bestselling Author, J. Sterling

Charging YOU money to attend a book signing!

I just wanted to say that in regards to book signings and personal appearances, that I will never sign up for an event that charges my readers a crap load of money to attend.

Any events that I have signed up for that charges readers ANY dollar amount to come, I find out why, for what, how come, etc. In doing these events, we are learning that charging a small ticket fee like $5 ensures that readers are more serious about actually attending the event and will most likely have follow through- instead of having a free sign up list where tons of people register themselves and all their friends "just in case" they can make it, but have no accountability when it comes to actually attending.

We authors (and the event coordinators) like to know how many people are REALLY planning on being at any event we attend so we can plan accordingly (how many books to bring, how much swag to order, etc). Also, it just makes good business sense to have as accurate numbers as possible when it comes to these things.  :)

The small signing fee also goes to things like extra security if it's needed, insurance for when the event gets too large, and any other additional and unexpected fees that crop up. If there are other charges, the authors share that cost.

I do want readers to know that the authors signing at the event ALWAYS split the cost of the conference room where the event is being held. Whatever the total room costs, we split it per author and that's considered our "table fee." We personally pay to host the event so that we can meet all of you! 

We do this because we want too.  :)

What the majority of us don't want, is to make our readers fork out MORE money to attend a mutually beneficial book signing. Yes, I said mutually beneficial. You readers love getting to meet your favorite authors.  And we authors LOVE getting to meet our readers!  It's a win-win!  :) 

I am not comfortable when I hear about someone charging readers money to come to a book signing that will generate that person thousands of dollars. The fact that some chicks tried to profit over $15 grand recently OFF OF OUR READERS makes me want to put the hurt on. And until they got called out on it, they were going to absolutely try to get away with it.

I know I must be the odd one out, but I actually enjoy treating you the way I would like to be treated. And if I wouldn't be willing to pay a certain amount of $$ to attend an event, I would never in good conscious ask you to do it. We're already asking you to fly to the signing, pay for your hotel, AND actually buy our books too!

Now I'm not saying that the event coordinator shouldn't be compensated for their time because their time is valuable and these events are a ton of work (a lot of times the coordinators make nothing off the event itself), but their fee should be incorporated into the author fees, NOT reader fees. 

We're getting to a point lately where it seems like any and every one is setting up book signings. Just because anyone CAN set up a signing, doesn't mean they should. And just because I CAN attend any book signing, doesn't mean I will.

I'm afraid that people are being taken advantage of. And it's all to profit... who?  The only money authors make off of the signings are the books we sell. And trust me when I tell you that we never come close to breaking even. But it's not about that. We want to thank you guys for all your support. We enjoy meeting you and spending time with you.  :)

So I guess all I can tell you is A- I will not attend a signing that is charging you money to attend, without knowing exactly WHY and WHAT that money is going toward and sharing that reason with you.

And B- if you are considering going to a signing that charges money for you to simply attend, you should ask WHY and WHERE that money is going. Because some of the things cropping up lately have me a little worried... 

*public service announcement over* 



PS- This is my personal opinion only. I know I keep saying "we" authors a lot in this post, but I only speak for myself.

PSS- I did not write this to cause a ruckus and a huge fuss. I just wanted to raise awareness to my fellow authors as well as our readers. We should always know what we're signing up for, what we are representing, and where our money is going and to whom. 

PPSSSSSPPSPSPSP-  This blog post obviously does NOT reflect any events that i'm actually attending. If I've chosen to attend the event and they charge a fee, I'm well aware of what the fee is being used for and have shared it on my Appearances page. 


  1. Anonymous9:14 AM

    Can I "reblog" this on my blog?

  2. You ROCK! We Readers Love You!! (And I loved your PSA!) :)

  3. Anonymous9:55 AM

    If I could actually write, I'd write a book about how f***ing ridiculous the book world has become. Or not the entire book world perhaps... but just the one involved in this NA craze we all seem to be drowning in.

    The book signing/convention thing is one thing. I recently heard of an author coming to my area and planned to go - until I found out that it was 150 freaking dollars just to walk in the door to get a book signed. When I questioned this I was told it was a convention with 'additional costs'. Uhh... no. Actually, Ms. Author, you in all of your excitement just got roped into ripping off your readers. That's what happened.

    But that is nothing compared to my rising level of annoyance and frustration with how far past the realm of normal our book 'reviewers' have descended.

    Let me make myself clear:

    A 'five star review' (because it shouldn't go higher than that, people!) is meant for a book that BLOWS YOUR FREAKING MIND. If that book didn't take your view of the world and twist it into something else entirely... or if it didn't make you have to pick your heart up off the f***ing floor and try to figure out a way to make it beat again... IT DOES NOT DESERVE A FIVE STAR REVIEW.

    When I scroll through page after page of these 'book blogs'... that's all I see. These posts that claim to be reviews but are nothing but squealing fangirl nonsense. Every book is "OMG THE BEST BOOK EVER!" and every male lead is "OMG THE MOST AWESOME MAN EVER!".... it makes my teeth hurt.

    So basically, don't trust book blogs. They aren't real reviews. At. All. They're free marketing tools for authors. Which is cool for the authors... but not for readers who are actually looking for unbiased reviews.

    Speaking of reviews: The past few months I have found that there is one thing that will turn me off to an author faster than Jack Carter can pitch... and that is going on their FB and blog and complaining about negative reviews so their readers descend upon Amazon and B&N to leave hundreds of the aforementioned fangirl posts that say nothing more than, "OMG, how could you not like this book! BEST AUTHOR EVER!"

    Which makes me wonder...

    Well... a lot of things. But I don't want to sound like a total b!tch, so I will walk away now.... haha

    1. Oops - that posted as anonymous. This is me. Owning my words. ;)

    2. Ditto, especially in relation to 5 star reviews. I tend to be stingy. In fact, my co-blogger and I don't give starred reviews, just comments on what we like and don't like.

    3. I personally think this should say, "don't trust ALL book blogs. I work my ass off making my page honest, and take quite a bit of flack and nasty messages for it. Other then that, I agree:)

    4. Then let's link this rant to some unbiased book blogs!! I'll follow them, love them and build shrines to them. Well, maybe not shrines... because that would be creepy... that and I have no room in my house.

    5. I'm cool with shrines, I'll send some viles of blood or something equally creepy.

    6. Love what you said too Jeri! I'm a blogger and I work really hard to NOT write too many 5 star reviews. Yes, I have had luck finding good strings of books that have knocked me on my ass, but not all the time. I even had to give less than 5 to my ALL TIME FAVE AUTHOR because the book just didn't grip me like it should have! I see people all over the interwebs that drive me crazy with there constant need to 5star everything! Yes....I can admit to fangirling's bound to happen when you love a book so much that you can't sleep!

    7. I am a blogger, and I admit I noticed myself giving out. A few to many 5 star reviews.. And have made it my personal goal to rein it in because there is nothing wrong with. 3.5 4 star review

    8. You're absolutely right! If I were a writer, I'd be kicking my heels up at a 4 star review!!

      It's just like performance assessments at work. 3 is standard, 4 is awesome and 5 is damn near perfect... which is why you rarely see 5's! As a manager, if I were to turn in PA's with 5's on them, they'd get shuffled right back to me along with a severe warning about my judgement and capabilities. :/

      Even beyond bloggers, you can't even pay attention to Amazon or B&N ratings anymore. Pages and pages of five star ratings? Come on now, people. Let's get back to the purpose of reviewing... and last time I checked it wasn't just to gush about how amazing and perfect you think the author is.

      Though on the flip side... leaving a one star review just because you want to prove you're not on the bandwagon is kind of a dick move too. So. There's that to be said as well.

    9. The blog bias and "bought" reviews is a whole other blog post. Seriously. It probably wouldn't be in my best interest to post my thoughts on that though. LOL

    10. Haha evidently, you don't have to. You just have to tell me to go rant on your blog and then I don't shut up! I'll just say it... and save you the trouble and headache. ;)

    11. Anonymous11:53 AM

      I am completely unbiased. I feel guilty when I don't swoon over books that others do, but always give my honest reasons why I don't. I rarely hand out 5 stars. It takes a lot of OMG for me to give 5 stars.

    12. I agree with your original post but keep in mind that bloggers don't always like the book they're given to review. Most of the tours I participate in prefer you not to post a review if you rate the book under 3 stars. That leaves us to post about the books we "fangirl" about.

  4. Anonymous10:00 AM

    I see there is some feedback regarding a dinner at a recent event. I, for one, KNOW that the planner actually almost LOST money on the event. She didn't ask the authors to pay any more than the readers, and that may have been her problem. All I know is the restaurant charged her $45 per person PLUS 22% tip PLUS 6% tax PLUS $5 per person for the bus. Then she bought all of the decorations, bracelets, swag bags and swag. With that, the woman worked her ass off and made LESS than $1.00 per person. I saw the bill when she signed it at the end of the night. She also had security, a DJ and a photographer. Add up the money. The restaurant screwing up was not her fault. The girl walked away with less than $200 for the whole event.

  5. Thanks for your post. I appreciate authors who appreciate their readers in this way. Authors have become like rockstars and to be honest, that's okay with me. I appreciate people who have the talent to write in a way that really moves people. But I don't like feeling exploited for my admiration. Let's keep it pure and reasonable!

    I have not yet read any of your books, but can you guess what is going on my TBR today?

    1. I just want honesty and transparency for things like this. And thank you- I hope you like what you read. :)

  6. Anonymous10:28 AM

    Honesty, only one of the reasons I Love you Jen Sterling!!!!

  7. Hi, Evan from Authorgraph here.

    I completely agree with what you wrote about the need for events to be "mutually beneficial" for both authors and readers. Even though some authors are popular enough that their readers will go to see them even if tickets cost tens or hundreds of dollars it doesn't mean that that is a good idea.

    Authors should instead focus on increasing their reach (i.e. audience size) by keeping both their books and event appearances reasonably priced. They can also increase reach by leveraging digital tools and services that allow them to interact with readers whom they might never meet in person.

    1. You're so smart Evan from Authorgraph. :)

  8. Seriously J. Sterling!!! This is why I love you so much. Cause your so freaking normal! We don't want to be charged to attend, I work/run/set up tradeshows for a living and I've seen both sides of the coin. These events are created to promote the authors and books, not to make event staff hundreds or thousands of dollars. It just Pisses me off! If you ever want to do a signing down in SoCal you let me know and I'll get you set up ;)

    1. I AM TOTALLY NORMAL! I mean, if crazy, ass shaking, silly, insane girl is normal?! HAHAHAHAHAHAH
      We just did an LA signing a couple months ago!!! But we may come back! :)

  9. I actually know exactly what event you are talking about and they made a statement recently saying the opposite .... But I heard what the fees for this event were originally (I heard they actually lowered it recently after someone said something) and how high the fee was compared to other events I understand that this CItY is not cheap (I love in it I know) but seriously those rates were crazy!

  10. I've been approached by a couple of authors about having a signing in my area (no one ever comes to my area. lol), so I checked into venues here. The costs are outrageous with insurance, security, permits, furnishings, air-conditioning, etc. <-- yes, one venue even charged for air-conditioning. I tried to link up with a couple of other blogs to assist and help sponsor/coordinate, and I seriously thought of charging $3 per reader (coincides with costs in this area) for the exact reason you stated. But as much as I want the fans in this area to be able to meet the authors they might not otherwise be able to meet, and with everything I see happening in the blog/book world lately, I really don't know that I want to continue with it.

    What the heck has happened to people? Doesn't anybody do anything anymore for the simple love of reading and sharing the authors with everyone just because it might be something nice to experience together? Geeze Louise...It always made me feel pretty good inside to share something I love with someone else.

  11. Jen,

    I loved you before, but I think after this post I am IN love with you. Seriously, you are fucking amazing! And yes, I said fucking (not that I think you'll be offended.)

    Because people seem to be giving their thoughts on this, I will as well let out my thoughts, or rant. I will try to make sense…
    I don’t know what event or in general you’re speaking on, but this is my take…

    I for one, love and support indie authors and am willing to pay a small fee to attend an event. However, when I am paying airfare plus hotel on top of that “small” fee to attend the event to meet these authors, I feel extra added costs are unnecessary for “smaller” events within the event. I am not talking about events or shows that are separate. That is all me and my choice. I am talking about events that are put on by authors or the event coordinators for readers.

    Now, I understand it is me who made the decision to fork out $400+ to attend the “said” event, but isn’t it rather silly to then charge more for a “welcome” event… Or any fun party just to make it bigger and better?? Like you said, it’s a win-win. Authors get to meet their readers and readers get to meet their favorite authors. I find it silly that on top of me spending money for air, hotel (again my choice) plus to get into the event, I now have to pay money to attend a welcome gathering. Shouldn’t this be a free to all as an appreciation to spending all this money to come and show our love and support for our authors… Also, one would think ALL these authors would attend this event as A THANK YOU. Your readers love you, show them love back!! PLEASE!

    To me, it comes across as just one big money bag and how can we make more money. Yes, I don’t have to take part, and I won’t, as that is my choice. I know it may not be the authors behind the added costs, but someone needs to speak up. I am glad that is you. $10 and $20 may not seem like a lot, but do the math. 500 people for welcome party$10= $5.000… 500 people for “Other Party” @$20 =$10,000. One would hope that would include food and open bar at that cost. Don’t tell me it costs that much to rent a room…

    Let me also just take a moment to say how mad I am at the fact that an event would get planned on the same night as another, therefor making more people fork out more money to attend both... Not including cab fare...

    I find it stupid to have to pay even $10 to attend a party to hang out with other avid readers and authors who are all here for the same thing. I much rather see free smaller events taken place throughout the duration of the event and give readers the choice on who, what, and where they decide to attend. I am not talking about other costs, such as shows that are not part of the author signing/event.

    That is all.

    1. While I wish I could afford to sponsor and host the "Other Party" I simply cannot afford the venue, alcohol, and entertainment for 500 people... I simply can't do the whole thing out of my own pocket. Sorry you feel this way. But in no way, shape or form is the "Other Party" a profit. Ellie

    2. I will say that I'm going to the Hottest ABS Party when we're in Vegas and it cost me $20 dollars to get in, just like everyone else. LOL I'm fine with that because it's a club and it had to be rented out for the evening and there is a max capacity. When something financially adds up and makes sense, I have no issues with it.
      I'm really looking forward to Vegas because there are so many additional events. Yes, they do cost extra money, but I know the people organizing got huge deals for our groups and of course, no one HAS to go to any of the outside events. I think they just wanted to have all sorts of other fun options for people. And everything that costs more money is going to cover the costs of either the venue, or to the band, etc.
      Anyway- see you all there! :)

    3. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND- whenever there is a fee based event that you have the option of attending, if there is nothing shady or fishy going on, most people would gladly tell you WHAT and HOW the money is being used. Maybe not the specific dollar amount, but they should have no issue in telling you what it's covering. You also (as a consumer) have a right to know.
      Okay, i'm done now. LOL

    4. Absolutely. I am more than happy to discuss how the money is being used. Just contact me with any questions regarding this.

      This actually did start out as a "free, smaller event" and due to the number of attendees that wanted to participate, that was no longer an option with the hotel in the free space.

      In regards to this being during an additional event... the original event sold out and we wanted to give an option to other attendees that were not able to attend. Again, this was provided as just another option for the weekend for something fun to do.

      Again, my apologies that I was unable to float it all to make it a free event.

      I have nothing to hide with this event. Nothing shady. Nothing fishy. Just ask if you have concerns. I'll answer.


  12. I <3 J. Sterling. Thank you so much for posting this!

  13. Personally i live in the middle of nowhere i would have to drive 4 to 6hrs plus a hotel room to attend a book signing. If you charge less i could purchase things and attend insted of sit at home and wish i was there.

  14. Oh Jenn! I so very much appreciate authors like you, who are so down to earth, and who I believe are in it for the right reasons. AND WHO TOTALLY ROCK! Thank you for your very honest words. I can't wait to meet you at a book signing some day! :)

  15. I had no idea there were some people charging for readers to come in to meet their favorite authors at book signings. I agree with you wholeheartedly - that's highway robbery and it shouldn't be tolerated. I would love to meet my fans and make more friends as well as introduce new people to my work... all without them having to fork over the dough to line someone's pocket without any indication as to why or how that money is spent (or not spent).