Tuesday, April 17, 2018

10 Best Packing Tips For Authors

By Gail Carriger, @gailcarriger

Part of the How They Do It Series

JH: Whether you're published (yet) or not, odds are you'll attend a writing event at some point in your writing journey. For those requiring overnight stays, some special packing just might be in order. Gail Carriger returns to the lecture hall today, to share her tips on packing well for a writers' event.

Gail Carriger writes comedies of manners mixed with paranormal romance (and the sexy San Andreas Shifter series as G.L. Carriger). Her steampunk books include the Parasol Protectorate, Custard Protocol, Supernatural Society, and Delightfully Deadly series for adults, and the Finishing School series for young adults. She is published in many languages and has over a dozen NYT bestsellers. She was once an archaeologist and is fond of shoes, octopuses, and tea.

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Take it away Gail...

I used to be an archaeologist. Now I write fiction for a living. Biggest surprise when I switched careers? I travel more as an author than I ever did as an archaeologist.

These days I have one event a month, mostly long weekends at conventions, writers conferences, book fairs, or comic cons. I also do several longer writing retreats and the occasional book tour.

No matter what the event, if attending as an author there are the ten things I always pack!

Professional Author Packing List

1. Business Cards
  • Front, glossy: A picture the 1st books (up to 3) in my most popular series. This kind of card works well for colleagues, fans, and new readers.
  • Back, matte: Name & contact information (I believe website & email are sufficient).
  • Plenty of white space on the back so people can write notes.

2. Bookmarks and Other Swag

Swag is a contentious subject. I don’t use mine for promo; instead I see swag as something special to give devoted readers. Exclusive in-person bookmarks, postcards, badge ribbons, or pins often become treasured collectables.

3. Name Tent

I recommend making your own name tent. You might need your own for signings or panels, especially for an easily misspelled name. I printed mine in my preferred font, on good card stock, and then laminated it.

4. Book Cover Art

The hardcover dust jackets, or your publisher’s sample paperback cover art, make great standees. I suggest packing the first books in a series, only. It isn’t always done to “prop a book up” on panels or other speaking engagements, but it’s best to be prepared in case it is done, without having to lug around the actual books. These are great for spontaneous photo ops, too!

5. Signing Pens

Whatever your preferred pen is, pack several. Since I get strange signing requests (parasols, anyone?) I travel with different kinds of pens: black and gold sharpies, a highlighter, and my preferred gel signing pens.

6. Tiny Notebook

I always find myself thinking of something to jot down while in a meeting or on a panel, so I like to carry something with me for notes. Otherwise I end up using my phone, which comes off as rude.

7. Newsletter Sign Up Sheet

This is one of the single most effective pieces of marketing. I always pack a stack of print outs with my newsletter’s title, and lines for people to write their names and emails. It gives shy fans something to do while I’m signing their books, and gives me loyal new subscribers - win win.

8. Professional Attire

Whether attending an event for the purposes of promotion, education, or networking it’s best to dress up rather than down.

9. Layers and Folding Tote

Convention centers and hotels have notoriously tricky atmospheres. It’s usually worth lugging around a light jacket, cardigan, or shawl. I find a folding tote also works wonders, as it’s also good for all the extra bits that I shed or accumulate throughout the day.

10. Save Yourself, Save Others

Someone will love you for one or all of the following:
  • Individually wrapped toothpicks
  • Tissues
  • Breath mints (If someone offers you a breath mint ALWAYS take it. They’re trying to tell you something.)
  • Pain killers and other useful over-the-counter meds (like activated charcoal)
  • Snacks

And there you have it, I hope this has been helpful and I hope to see you at a future author gathering!

Hope to see you at RWA Nationals in Denver or WorldCon in San Jose in 2018! Both are great author conventions.

Find more of her posts featuring travel resources for authors on her website.

She also has a podcast all about travel hacking tips and tricks called 20 Minute Delay. 

About The Sumage Solution

Can a gentle werewolf heal the heart of a smart-mouthed mage?

NYT bestseller Gail Carriger, writing as G. L. Carriger, presents an offbeat gay romance in which a sexy werewolf with a white knight complex meets a bad boy mage with an attitude problem. Sparks (and other things) fly.

Max fails everything – magic, relationships, life. So he works for DURPS (the DMV for supernatural creatures) as a sumage, cleaning up other mages’ messes. The job sucks and he’s in no mood to cope with redneck biker werewolves. Unfortunately, there’s something oddly appealing about the huge, muscled Beta visiting his office for processing.

Bryan AKA Biff (yeah, he knows) is gay but he’s not out. There’s a good chance Max might be reason enough to leave the closet, if he can only get the man to go on a date. Everyone knows werewolves hate mages, but Bryan is determined to prove everyone wrong, even the mage in question.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound |


  1. Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  2. An excellent list. Is a "name tent" just your name on a piece of paper (or laminate or other stronger material) folded in half to stand up on the table in front of you?

  3. Wonderful and useful tips! I have a convention weekend coming up and this had added a few "Must takes" for me.