Saturday 28th February 2018
This date will stay with me forever as one of the best days of my life. I had never been to a book signing before and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Unsure about the process I joined the Facebook page and the Gooodreads group to try to learn as much as possible before the event and through doing this I made new friends, Bridget Palmer and Becky Blair.
Getting a ticket was my first hurdle as they seriously get snapped up quickly. This was where I go lucky and made my first friend, Bridget. The organisers set up a group to buy and sell tickets for anyone who finds that they are unable to attend for whatever reason. I happened to be on this page at the exact time that the lovely Bridget happened to be selling as she did not need her extra tickets. We communicated through Facebook and have kept in touch since. Ticket obtained it was now just a year long wait for the event itself!
During the year I kept a close eye on all the posts and mentions connected to the event. This is vital. I cannot stress enough how much information goes through these pages whether it be information for volunteers, authors who are attending, dos and don’ts for the day, group meetings, people establishing local book clubs, merchandise sales, pre-orders etc. It really did become like one big family group. This was were I became friends with Becky. Although we never actually got around to meeting before the event we stayed in touch and finally met at the event.
Ok, so the day is getting close and the nerves of excitement and worry are starting to set in. As it is my first event I decided to keep it simple and go with a GA (general admission) ticket. There are varying parties that the organisers put on that cover the whole weekend but as I was going on my own I didn’t really want to stay in London by myself, yeah,yeah! I know….big wuss! And to be honest I would have loved to have attended the Registration party on the Friday night, The After Party on the Saturday night and the private screening of Fifty Shades Freed on the Sunday. Maybe next time. So anyway, I have my train ticket booked and I’m all set to head out at 7.00am on Saturday morning. Trusty Kindle in hand for the train journey I head off on my epic adventure!
The event this year was held at the London Olympia. We were advised to dress in layers (very sensible advice) as there was nowhere to queue inside before registration began. Queue! This was an understatement. As I approached the Olympia at around 10.50am I could hear the women waiting before I could see them. I am in no way being sexist here because I really could count the men that were there (as visitors, we’ll get onto the men in attendance later) on one hand. Anyway, as I’m getting nearer I can see the main doors and I happen to be approaching from the opposite side of the line. So I walk past the main doors in search of the end of the line. And I walk. And I walk. And I spot Bridget, have a chat and then head off again. And I walk some more. I kid you not, the queue was massive! Finally finding the end, I joined just at the same time as another lady who appeared to be by herself, and as I have heard countless times in the posts I actually did something I don’t normally do…I started a conversation. Talking to others in the line is essential. You discuss which authors you want see, find out about authors you may not have previously read and get recommendations. The important thing to remember is that everyone is there for the same reason….to meet their favourite authors.
Once the doors opened the queue moved along a good steady pace. I would say that it took no longer than 45 minutes to get to main doors and the organisation that went into getting everyone in as quickly as possible was amazing. Now we are moving onto the main floor. Everything feels a bit surreal! Walking onto the main floor just knocks the breath right out of you. Tables lined up, people everywhere, and the only thought that went through my head was “Authors! Authors are here! My favourite authors are here…OMG!” Yes, I did fangirl. I’m not afraid to admit it.
It took me a moment to take it all in but then my feet started moving and that was it, four and half hours of non stop walking around, lining up and having an awesome experience. I was concerned before I went that meeting my favourite authors might be a bad thing, the old saying “never meet your hero” kept going round my head but I can honestly say that everyone was so friendly, willing to chat and have photos taken. When I was telling people back home/work about my experience they seemed surprised that there was no extra charge for anything, and there isn’t. You do not pay extra for signing, talking to, or having photos with any of the authors or the MoR (Men of Rare). Books are for sale but that’s it. Some authors are ticketed, which basically means that they are really popular and this was a great way to ensure that you don’t stand in one line for hours, it lets you go around and just join their line when your number is called. If you want to see a ticketed author go there first and get your ticket, there is absolutely no point waiting until later in the day thinking you’ve got time because you don’t. The time flies by and it is highly likely that you won’t get to see every author that you want to. This is no ones fault. Every author is popular and it takes some planning to get to see who you want. I made a list of all the authors I wanted to see starting with my favourites. I made sure I saw them first. There is also nothing wrong with seeing an author who’s books you have never read as they are more than happy to talk about their books.
I do have to mention at this point the very gorgeous Men of RARE – Stuart Reardon, Jase Dean and Franggy Yanez. If you have never heard of these guys before I can probably guarantee that you have read at least one book with one of them on the cover. They were brilliant the whole day, very approachable and happy to sign items and have photos taken, and constantly walking around. I may have been a bit overwhelmed by it all and felt more like a 15 year old than the forty-something that I am but hey! They were fantastic and made a great day even better.
What you take to get signed is entirely up to you, although some authors do have signing limits. I saw people with trolleys and suitcases full of books, canvases, kindle cases etc. I personally took 9 paperbacks and an autograph book, this was mainly due to transporting them on the train. I intend to use the autograph book for future signings – London 19 is already in the planning/saving up for stage.
It is a long day but it is worth every second.
To finish off I would like to send out thanks for making the day so memorable to:
Bridget Palmer and Becky Blair – friends who are not going to get rid of me now!
Authors – Julia Kent, Julie A, Huss, Kitty French, Erika L James, Colleen Hoover, Brenna Aubrey, C. J. Roberts and Natasha Preston (all of whom I had photos taken with) , Samantha Towle, Nelle L’Amour, A Zavarelli, A. Meredith Walters, Ker Dukey, Nikki Sloane
Men of RARE – Stuart Reardon, Jase Dean and Franggy Yanez
Organisers – Amy Jennings and all the team at RARE
I look forward to attending future events and meeting you all again!