Meeting Readers

Rare lightsChristina here. Authors are mostly solitary creatures, holed up in our lair with just our characters for company, and snarling at anyone who interrupts us when we’re in the writing zone. But sometimes we need to get out and see people, and one of the very best things is meeting readers. Having someone buy your books or tell you that they enjoyed one of your stories is lovely, and although getting messages like that on social media is always appreciated, meeting readers face to face is even better. So when I got the opportunity to join a big book signing event at London’s ExCel exhibition centre recently, I jumped at the chance. It was something I simply couldn’t miss!

Rare bannerRARE (Romance Author & Reader Events) book signing events are organised by two indomitable ladies, and they move around to venues in various different countries around the world. It’s been held at places like Melbourne, Paris, Berlin and Edinburgh, and there are lots more to come. The aim is to bring together as many authors and readers as possible for one-day book signings, but it has also created a romance reading community. There’s a dedicated FaceBook group and RARE can also be found on Instagram. Some of the readers travel huge distances in order to attend, and they are very enthusiastic and loyal. It sounded fantastic, and I couldn’t wait to take part.

Eva Chase

With author Eva Chase

The event itself is only for one day, but the organisers held a Meet & Greet the day before, which was a lovely relaxing way of starting off the weekend. I attended with my friend and fellow author Sue Moorcroft, and we chatted to some of the other authors present to get to know them a bit. Among them quite a few ladies who had come over from the US and Canada especially for RARE. There were some wonderful props to take photos with as well, and we made the most of that, having a good time.

Rare tableWe had decided to stay the night at a nearby hotel, as neither of us fancied travelling to the venue at the crack of dawn. This proved a wise decision, and we were able to get there early to set up our tables in good time. The exhibition hall was enormous, and fitting two hundred authors in there was no problem at all. When the readers started to arrive, the space still didn’t feel crowded, which was great as there were apparently 1800 of them!

 

Rare badgeThese were some serious romance aficionados! The majority had brought little trolleys or crates on wheels to store all the books they bought. I heard afterwards that some had bought as many as 96, perhaps even a hundred? Most of the authors present were independently published, and they clearly had their own following as readers made a beeline for their favourites. Some had queues that lasted all day, and many of the readers had pre-ordered their books. I got the feeling the emphasis was on very spicy/steamy stories (a lot of fantasy/werewolf shifters/aliens and the like), so mine were probably a bit tame in comparison, but I still got some sales.

Rare scrapbookThe best part was chatting to readers, who came up to grab some SWAG and browse the books. Quite a few of them were collecting autographs too, some in special scrapbooks, and a couple had even had books printed especially with the book covers of the authors whose signatures they wanted. I was extremely impressed (and astonished!) by this as I’d never seen anything like it. That takes serious organisation and dedication! Not to mention, it’s incredibly flattering for the authors whose covers are featured – I was really honoured to be included.

Many of the attendees had come over from Europe – I met Dutch, German and French readers who had travelled to London especially for this event. Their enthusiasm was contagious and they were clearly happy to be there and didn’t mind the long journeys. The author sitting next to me was also Dutch, although she wrote in English, and we bonded over a love of Vikings. (She had written a couple of books about them – check out Mariah Stone if you’re interested.)

Jaine Diamond

With author Jaine Diamond

I took a break and had a quick look around, and I couldn’t resist buying a few books myself – who doesn’t love a signed copy for the keeper shelf? Meeting favourite authors like Jaine Diamond and Sara L Hudson was a highlight, and I enjoyed chatting to them. I also ran into the lovely Eloisa James, Regency author extraordinaire, whom I’d had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago when she came over to the UK to give a talk to the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She very kindly agreed to a selfie and she looks great – me not so much! (What is it about selfies that they always give you a couple of extra chins?!)

Sara L Hudson

With author Sara L Hudson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eloisa James

With author Eloisa James

 

The entire event was amazingly well organised and ran like clockwork. Each author received a very pretty lanyard, a goody bag with snacks, water, pens and post-it notes. All the tables were covered in pristine tablecloths to give the whole a uniform appearance. And when it was lunchtime, there was a rota set up whereby one aisle at a time was closed off and guarded by the event personnel so that the authors could go and have lunch without worrying about their stuff. Very impressive! The message on the bags read “Books, because reality is overrated” – I think I’m going to adopt that as my motto from now on.

Rare hallAt the end of the day, I wasn’t convinced that the event was necessarily for authors like myself – traditionally published and writing less steamy stories – but I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway. And although it was expensive, I would consider doing it again just for the fun of getting out and meeting readers and other authors. It was a real buzz!

 

Have you ever attended any book signings? Big events or local ones for just one author. If so, what did you enjoy about it?

50 thoughts on “Meeting Readers”

  1. I once went to a signing for Marion Chesney. I was the last in line (I got a little lost finding the place and was a bit late). She was promoting one of her mysteries. I had brought along one of her regency hardbacks from Walker and she was kind enough to sign it. She looked rather weary so I didn’t try to begin a long conversation – but I wished I could have.
    I have attended many science fiction conventions over the years and they’re always fun, but they are so large now that it is difficult to find anybody or talk with them for long. Back in the day cons were smaller and friendlier – fan run, not big business. But I say, any time you get a chance to meet an author you should do it, if only to thank them for their work.

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  2. I once went to a signing for Marion Chesney. I was the last in line (I got a little lost finding the place and was a bit late). She was promoting one of her mysteries. I had brought along one of her regency hardbacks from Walker and she was kind enough to sign it. She looked rather weary so I didn’t try to begin a long conversation – but I wished I could have.
    I have attended many science fiction conventions over the years and they’re always fun, but they are so large now that it is difficult to find anybody or talk with them for long. Back in the day cons were smaller and friendlier – fan run, not big business. But I say, any time you get a chance to meet an author you should do it, if only to thank them for their work.

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  3. I totally agree Janice and I’m glad you’ve been to some great ones! I used to read Marion Chesney’s Regencies too – pretty sure I still have them somewhere here.

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  4. I totally agree Janice and I’m glad you’ve been to some great ones! I used to read Marion Chesney’s Regencies too – pretty sure I still have them somewhere here.

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  5. Christina, RARE sounds like a most wonderful group of organizers and readers! I’ve always enjoyed participating in the big author signings at RWAmerica and Romantic Times. I love meeting readers–and after a two or three hours of talking and extroverting, I’d always go back to my room to collapse!

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  6. Christina, RARE sounds like a most wonderful group of organizers and readers! I’ve always enjoyed participating in the big author signings at RWAmerica and Romantic Times. I love meeting readers–and after a two or three hours of talking and extroverting, I’d always go back to my room to collapse!

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  7. I went to a more sci-fi type con especially for the writers’ panel. My focus was A.C. Crispin who had just written a sanctioned pre Star Wars Han Solo trilogy. Peter David was part of the panel too. Loved the camaraderie & competitiveness. Made for a fun time and it wasn’t crowded so you could actually talk to them & ask questions. Ann Crispin passed away about 10 years ago so I’m glad I was able to meet her. I’d love to try a romance writers’ con sometime.

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  8. I went to a more sci-fi type con especially for the writers’ panel. My focus was A.C. Crispin who had just written a sanctioned pre Star Wars Han Solo trilogy. Peter David was part of the panel too. Loved the camaraderie & competitiveness. Made for a fun time and it wasn’t crowded so you could actually talk to them & ask questions. Ann Crispin passed away about 10 years ago so I’m glad I was able to meet her. I’d love to try a romance writers’ con sometime.

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  9. I was at Mysterious Bookstore in NYC to have my books signed by Deanna Raybourn and Lauren Willig.
    They talked about writing and their current books.
    It was so wonderful to hear two great writers talk about their process.

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  10. I was at Mysterious Bookstore in NYC to have my books signed by Deanna Raybourn and Lauren Willig.
    They talked about writing and their current books.
    It was so wonderful to hear two great writers talk about their process.

    Reply
  11. Afraid I haven’t attended any book signings … it would be a big effort to attend meetings in big cities. Though if zoom meetings were arranged I might be more interested. Maybe PDF books with digital signatures?
    “I got the feeling the emphasis was on very spicy/steamy stories (a lot of fantasy/werewolf shifters/aliens and the like)” I think time travelling to Viking times could easily lead to steamy situations …. you never know how you will enter the new time period! Maybe you should set it up and see how your characters react …. from previous wench blogs they seem to have a controlling influence!
    I was interested to see the photo of you and Eloisa James. James was one of the first romance authors that I read and I had a lot of fun interacting with other readers on her original web site, particularly with the drabble competitions that she hosted … sadly no more.
    It must be very instructive to meet other authors in this way, exchanging ideas and views. A bit like scientific conferences where the really interesting stuff is discussed away from the lectures and presentations, over dinner or coffee!

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  12. Afraid I haven’t attended any book signings … it would be a big effort to attend meetings in big cities. Though if zoom meetings were arranged I might be more interested. Maybe PDF books with digital signatures?
    “I got the feeling the emphasis was on very spicy/steamy stories (a lot of fantasy/werewolf shifters/aliens and the like)” I think time travelling to Viking times could easily lead to steamy situations …. you never know how you will enter the new time period! Maybe you should set it up and see how your characters react …. from previous wench blogs they seem to have a controlling influence!
    I was interested to see the photo of you and Eloisa James. James was one of the first romance authors that I read and I had a lot of fun interacting with other readers on her original web site, particularly with the drabble competitions that she hosted … sadly no more.
    It must be very instructive to meet other authors in this way, exchanging ideas and views. A bit like scientific conferences where the really interesting stuff is discussed away from the lectures and presentations, over dinner or coffee!

    Reply
  13. Our public library sponsors free “Meet the Author” events, where the author gives a prepared talk and then answers questions from the audience. Some authors leave quickly and others stay and visit with their readers, signing autographs and discussing their books .
    The convention you describe sounds exhausting for author and readers alike. I imagine you answer the same questions repeatedly and the fans only have a moment or two to say hello before moving to the next line.
    I will stick with the speaker series.

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  14. Our public library sponsors free “Meet the Author” events, where the author gives a prepared talk and then answers questions from the audience. Some authors leave quickly and others stay and visit with their readers, signing autographs and discussing their books .
    The convention you describe sounds exhausting for author and readers alike. I imagine you answer the same questions repeatedly and the fans only have a moment or two to say hello before moving to the next line.
    I will stick with the speaker series.

    Reply
  15. You met Peter David? I am so envious. He came the closest of any writer to catching the sound and rhythm of the dialog on the Star Trek shows. It just sounded right.
    Sf cons were great for meeting the writers. They were lionized there and I think they enjoyed that; their audience didn’t know that they were mostly working for peanuts with shoestring publishers who paid late and sometimes not at all.
    Those were the days 🙂

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  16. You met Peter David? I am so envious. He came the closest of any writer to catching the sound and rhythm of the dialog on the Star Trek shows. It just sounded right.
    Sf cons were great for meeting the writers. They were lionized there and I think they enjoyed that; their audience didn’t know that they were mostly working for peanuts with shoestring publishers who paid late and sometimes not at all.
    Those were the days 🙂

    Reply
  17. Yes Zoom virtual signings might be possible! And yes I’ll have to look into writing some steamier Vikings – not sure if I could.
    It is always lovely to meet up with other authors and exchange news and ideas.

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  18. Yes Zoom virtual signings might be possible! And yes I’ll have to look into writing some steamier Vikings – not sure if I could.
    It is always lovely to meet up with other authors and exchange news and ideas.

    Reply
  19. It was exhausting but in a really good way and I never mind answering questions more than once – that’s absolutely fine.

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  20. It was exhausting but in a really good way and I never mind answering questions more than once – that’s absolutely fine.

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  21. Thanks so much for this lovely post. It is evident you had a terrific time, and even better your fans got to have a terrific time meeting you. Winner – Winner!
    I live in a city where the authors who come for signings write books I have never read. I do not read the “right” books. But, that is OK, I don’t go to those signings, I get to stay home and read one of the books I like.

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  22. Thanks so much for this lovely post. It is evident you had a terrific time, and even better your fans got to have a terrific time meeting you. Winner – Winner!
    I live in a city where the authors who come for signings write books I have never read. I do not read the “right” books. But, that is OK, I don’t go to those signings, I get to stay home and read one of the books I like.

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  23. That’s a shame Annette but hopefully some of your favourites will come at some point. Staying at home and reading books you like sounds great too though!

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  24. That’s a shame Annette but hopefully some of your favourites will come at some point. Staying at home and reading books you like sounds great too though!

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  25. Your books are fine as they are Christina. Not all of us like our books full of sex scenes. For me it takes away from the story.

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  26. Your books are fine as they are Christina. Not all of us like our books full of sex scenes. For me it takes away from the story.

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  27. The first book signing I attended was at a Romance Writers of America conference, and I expected to have no-one come up to me because I was a brand new author and at that stage I had no books out in the USA, only the UK. But that book was a RITA finalist for Best First Book and friends had convinced me to do the book-signing. But instead of nobody, I had a handful of lovely people from a Georgette Heyer on-line group of which I was a member, and a couple of reviewers and two editors come and speak to me, one of whom told me I would be getting a US release, which was thrilling.
    Another time at an RWAmerica conference, there were a bunch of Wenches attending and we all sat there with a blue ostrich quill in front of us — not that many people realized t was “branding” us. LOL Since then I’ve attended several big signing events, and though it’s always lovely to meet readers, nothing quite beat that first one when I started out with the expectation of nothing.

    Reply
  28. The first book signing I attended was at a Romance Writers of America conference, and I expected to have no-one come up to me because I was a brand new author and at that stage I had no books out in the USA, only the UK. But that book was a RITA finalist for Best First Book and friends had convinced me to do the book-signing. But instead of nobody, I had a handful of lovely people from a Georgette Heyer on-line group of which I was a member, and a couple of reviewers and two editors come and speak to me, one of whom told me I would be getting a US release, which was thrilling.
    Another time at an RWAmerica conference, there were a bunch of Wenches attending and we all sat there with a blue ostrich quill in front of us — not that many people realized t was “branding” us. LOL Since then I’ve attended several big signing events, and though it’s always lovely to meet readers, nothing quite beat that first one when I started out with the expectation of nothing.

    Reply
  29. I went to the author book signing event at the Historical Romance Retreat, I believe it was almost 10 years ago. It’s in San Diego this year, but back then it was in Spokane, WA, where I happened to be completely by accident!
    I met many authors whose books I love, including Madeline Hunter, Rose Lerner, and Mary Balogh. I surprised myself by getting really tongue-tied in front of them, especially Mary Balogh, who was so lovely and gracious. Possibly one of the Wenches could have been there too?

    Reply
  30. I went to the author book signing event at the Historical Romance Retreat, I believe it was almost 10 years ago. It’s in San Diego this year, but back then it was in Spokane, WA, where I happened to be completely by accident!
    I met many authors whose books I love, including Madeline Hunter, Rose Lerner, and Mary Balogh. I surprised myself by getting really tongue-tied in front of them, especially Mary Balogh, who was so lovely and gracious. Possibly one of the Wenches could have been there too?

    Reply

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