Life on the other side of the fence by Ava Manello
I recently attended a book signing in Oxford from the other side of the fence, as a reader rather than an author. I now have a whole new appreciation for my readers. I thought it was a tiring day standing in front of my table talking to readers, but life on the other side of the fence is pretty , although massively entertaining.
The signing took place in Oxford Town Hall, a grand setting, but little too small for the number of readers who attended which meant that many signing authors had to be ticketed, and those that weren't still had queues.
The camaraderie that was evident amongst readers was infectious, from friends made in the registration queue outside the venue that began a couple of hours before the doors were due to open to friends made whilst bumping into each other inside. This was only the second signing I'd attended as a reader, a good four years after my first one, and I'd thought I'd planned . I hadn't.
book signing on this scale should be approached with military precision - coded table plans that can be marked off as pre-orders are collected, scrapbooks are signed, or books purchased. I confess, with trying to find the shortest queue I may have lost track of where I'd been and who had signed what, despite there being just under 30 authors to meet. Only having less than a handful of items to be signed I'd taken a large shopper which was discarded before the event started. Instead, I carried everything in my left arm, and as the pile of items grew, so did the dents in my skin. There wasn't time to faff around putting books and canvas totes back in the bag to get them out again at the next table. Partway around the room another author asked me to get some things signed for them as well, queue me not remembering where I'd been with what. I felt like a total amateur!
Surrounded by readers with trolley crates overflowing with pre-purchased books and coded charts I felt out of my depth. Two ladies who were attending this as their first signing even had drag along truck crates that made a pushchair look small. At the start of the event they were , by the end they were overflowing with more books than would fit an average bookcase. I was in awe of their determination and dedication.
I'd bought my tickets a year previously when my unicorn author was announced, this was her first visit to the UK and only chance I would have to meet her. If you've never heard the phrase unicorn author it's your absolute must meet, author ever. I wasn't the only reader who'd had the same idea, over a quarter of the tickets sold queued up, some day, just for that moment with her. Outside of the book world I'm not sure how to explain this phenomenon to someone, other than imagine an opportunity to meet your , have a photo with them and a quick chat. It's a priceless moment you will remember forever.
Before I started blogging and reviewing I hadn't even there were book signings like this, then as an author I decided to run one of my own. The amount of work that goes into them is unbelievable, hence me only running mine every two or three years. Not all signings have to be on a grand scale and I'm looking forward to attending a more intimate signing as an author late next year to see how that goes.
The romance community embraces signings, and over the last four years we've gone from having only one a year to multiple signing opportunities throughout the country. Imagine a room filled with forty plus authors and several hundred readers. It's one of those experiences you really should try at least once. Authors are just ordinary people, and all the authors I know love getting together with readers and talking books. You get to know certain faces that seem to pop up at events regularly, and they become firm friends. You also make new friends as no one ever seems to be alone, they may arrive that way but by the end they've been adopted by fellow book lovers and become part of this wonderful book community.
So, if you see a signing come up near you, do consider attending. You'll find authors you may not have known about before and make new friends who'll happily recommend their books to you.