Different models work best for different authors and different settings, though I think that if given time, I could teach almost any author to use the Author Talk model effectively and to their great advantage.

The most important part, however, is differentiating these author events for the public. We must let our audiences know what to expect. If we were more specific about the kind of talk that readers will hear, perhaps our audiences would be larger and our readership would grow faster. Most important, customers would leave satisfied.


Not worth the time for the reader.

The Reading

The stories my audiences liked best had little to do with my latest book and more to do with my life as a writer, a teacher, a husband, a father and an occasional fool. As I began to refine my methods, I discovered that if my audience got to know me as a person, they were more likely to purchase my book, explore my backlist, reach out to me on social media and become a lifelong reader of my work.

I discovered that instead of simply talking about a book, I should use the book as a reason to tell stories of almost any kind, as long as they were honest and entertaining.

The Author Talk

This is the kind of event that I like to do the most. Rather than relying on a specific book to anchor my talk, I simply tell stories about my life as an author and a reader. I certainly discuss my books and am more than happy to answer questions about them (I love taking questions and offer prizes for the most unusual or challenging question asked), but mostly I tell stories. Sometimes my stories relate to elements of my novels, but I am just as likely to talk about how I fell in love with reading and writing, my journey to publishing my first novel and the experiences I’ve had since my first book hit bookstore shelves five years ago. I tell stories about being a husband, a father, a teacher and more. Anything to entertain my audience. Oftentimes I bring a stack of books to recommend as well, and each of these recommendations comes with a story.

Rather than attempting to convince my audience about the appeal of a specific novel, my goal is to let the audience get to know me as a person. I try to be as honest, insightful, amusing and entertaining as possible.

I have two reasons for preferring this format:

1. If my audience members choose to spend a couple hours of their evening with me, they deserve to be entertained.

2. If my audience leaves the bookstore liking me as a person, they are likely to become lifelong readers of my work, both in print and online.

While I tend to think that the author talk is the most effective category of author appearance, I am also naturally suited to this kind of talk, so I am admittedly biased. As an experienced storyteller with organizations like The Moth and a lifetime full of amusing, unfortunate and unusual stories to tell, it is easy for me to stand before an audience and turn every question asked into another opportunity to tell a story.

But if I was a writer as gifted and hilarious as David Sedaris, I would read from my work every time.

And if every one of my appearances took place at Market Block Books and was hosted by bookseller extraordinaire Stanley Hadsell, I would chose the signing model every time.



You can reach Chas McNamara via email at:

For interview or review copy requests, or publicity inquiries relating to Chas’s books, please contact:

Chas. McNamara
c/o Show&Tell
5240 S. Logan Street
Littleton, CO  80121



Print pagePDF pageEmail page