While I’ve always loved books, it wasn’t until I became an author that I started attending more book events. And now I can’t get enough of them. I fangirl it up with the best of them, squealing at the sight of authors like I’m a teenager again at a New Kids on the Block concert. (Oh, wow, did I just admit that?)

At these events, I absorb every panel. I immerse myself in every book discussion, relating, learning and, ultimately, growing as a writer from the experience.

Not only do I find these book events, both large and small, educational, I also find myself falling in love with authors now before I even read their books. In fact, oftentimes I’ll go to a book event and purchase a book based solely on the personality of the author.

It makes me wonder. Meeting an author clearly influences whether or not I buy a book. Does it also influence how much I like a book?

I’m not sure. So I decided to take a quasi-scientific approach to determining how significantly I’m influenced by an in-person encounter with an author. To do this, I decided to compare the ratings I gave books purchased based on author encounters to the overall Goodreads rating.

Let’s see if this leads to author-exposure book bias…

(Disclaimer: This assessment in no way definitely determines if author-exposure book bias actually exists. Although given I have just made up this term, who’s to say this isn’t a totally legitimate way to determine the veracity of a fictional phenomenon? I’m going to go with it.)

Book: An Ember in the Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

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Encounter: I listened to Sabaa Tahir give a speech at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, and became immediately smitten with her. Her talk about how failure made her a better person was so endearing and engaging I immediately bought her book!

My rating: 5 stars

Overall Goodreads rating: 4.32

Book: Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

children of blood and bone

Encounter: I was lucky enough to hear Tomi Adeyemi discuss her book Children of Blood and Bone at NOVA Teen, a local book festival near where I live. I attended the festival to take part in a local author meet and greet with librarians. But, really, I went to see Tomi. Her book had just been released a day or two before. Although I’d already purchased my copy, I hadn’t had a chance to read it before the festival.

During panels and interview sessions, Tomi was both insightful and funny. But what I liked about her most was the directness with which she approached topics. From discrimination to writing challenges, she spoke openly and fearlessly. Listening to her made me want to read her work even more.

My rating: 5 stars

Overall Goodreads rating: 4.3 stars

Book: The Belles

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

belles

Encounter: My first exposure to Dhonielle Clayton was when she interviewed Tomi Adeyemi at the NOVA Teen book festival. Compared to Tomi Adeyemi’s forthright manner, Dhonielle came across as a bit softer. She seemed like the kind of person who could fall into a thoughtful, but humorous, conversation with a complete stranger in an instant.

From her bright smile to her poignant questions, every part of her exuded charm. Although I had not heard of her book, The Belles, before I saw her on stage, and probably never would have picked it up (based on judging the cover alone), I bought it anyway.

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My rating: 4 stars

Overall Goodreads rating: 3.91

Book: Truthwitch

Author: Susan Dennard

truthwitch

Encounter: I’d flagged Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch as a “want to read” on Goodreads over a year ago and there it stayed until I saw her speak during a panel, again at NOVA teen. She was one of four young adult fantasy authors. While most of the other panelist spoke about themselves, which is not a criticism, Susan stood out because she took every opportunity to praise the other women on the panel.

She focused more on supporting fellow female authors than touting her own work. She also spoke plainly and honestly of learning and growing as a person and a writer. Essentially, she was all heart and no ego. I bought her book at the festival bookshop the moment I walked out of the auditorium.

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My rating: 4 stars

Overall Goodreads rating: 3.91

Book: Flood 

Author: Melissa Scholes Young

flood

I met Melissa Scholes Young during an author event at one of my favorite bookstores in Northern Virginia, Scrawl Books. We both participated as part of a local author meet and greet Scrawl Books organized to celebrate Indie Bookstore Day.

Melissa’s bright smile and wit charmed me instantly. As a Professor of Protest Literature at American University and a new author, I had to bite my lip to hold back the millions of questions swirling in my brain.

(To understand this better, quick background:  As a youth, I had two dreams. 1) Be a writer. 2) Become a Professor of English Literature. So basically, Melissa Scholes Young was the idol I never knew I had until that day.)

To be honest, I kind of wanted to beg her to be my new best friend. But proximity and a 15-minute conversation probably weren’t quite enough to cement a lasting friendship. (And even I know that would have been a really weird request.) Still, I scooped up her book and bought it before heading home that day, eager to read it.

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My rating: 4 stars

Overall Goodreads rating: 3.91

Rose Colored Reading Glasses

So… Based on my little unscientific assessment is it likely meeting an author influences my opinion on the book?

If you look at my ratings vs the overall Goodreads score, I definitely rated the books higher than average, although not significantly. Still, it would seem as though my connection to an author likely had some influence. I suppose it’s only natural. And, in the end, does it matter? What difference does it make what makes you enjoy a book as long as you enjoy it!

Anyone else have thoughts on the potential influence of meeting authors and how it may influence your opinion of the book, both negatively and positively?

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