It’s so fricking nervewracking!
Authors only visit select locations such as select populated city centres and large bookstores or event venues and if you’re lucky, most of the time meeting them is a free event. Living in Melbourne and fairly close to the city, I’ve had the opportunity to meet my fair share of Melbourne based and non-Melbourne based Australian authors, sharing with them the launches of their novels in cosy inner-city bookstores.
They’re all fun events and I have so many posts about these events here on Jasper + Spice as I try to document them all for those of you who can’t make it. I love making friends, meeting up with people I don’t see often and just having a good time surrounded by people like me.
Until I reach the start of the signing line…
The talking part of the night is over, the author moves to sit down at the signing table and everyone is shuffling into what can only be described as a poorly drawn line. You move with the flow and stand around with your friends and those you’ve been talking to all night totally not realising how close you are to the front of the line. You’re chatting about the event and asking someone to take your photo when you reach the desk. Before you know it, you’re approaching the signing table, book outstretched and completely speechless, awestruck by the talent in front of you. Muttering a shakey hello and thank you, you have your photo taken and leave feeling slightly embarrassed and like you’ve missed a huge opportunity.
But fear no more!
You’re here and that’s a start. As someone who is always reflecting on past conversations, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what to say and often times I reflect on how things could’ve gone differently.
Taking the scenario of a book launch/ signing, here are some tips!
While Waiting In The Signing Line
Standing in the signing line, you’re waiting with your friends. You’re anxious, nervous and maybe even a little annoyed at how long the line is taking. But most of all, you’re starting to brainstorm what to say in those fifteen seconds of time you have face-to-face with your favourite author.
It’s hard to brainstorm alone, so make sure you converse with those in line around you. Ask them what they’re thinking of saying, recap what the author spoke about (if they spoke prior), discuss your favourite parts of the book in question OR discuss the author’s other novels. It’s always good to have these conversations. I find they loosen the nerves and give me conversation topics.
Most importantly: Ask someone to take a photo of you!!! In advance before you reach the start of the line. You’ll hand your phone/ camera over to your friend when you’re about two from the front of the line to make the line move smoother.
What to say to the author in question??
- First off, say ‘Hi’ and tell them your name! It’s surprising how an author will remember you from your name/ face especially when you show up to a lot of their events.
- Complain about a devastating part of a novel they wrote.
- Did they say something in the discussion portion of the event that you want further clarity on? Ask them!
- If you’re interested in writing, ask them about their writing/ planning styles.
- Ask them about similar interests that you have. (You may find this out on their Instagram/ Twitter)
- Ask them to give you insight/ sneak peek spoilers into any future projects they might have in mind.
- Let them know how much you loved their novel!
- Tell them about your blog/ review/ video/ etc.
You’ve Made it to the Start!
You’re next in line, someone else probably has your camera in preparation and make sure you take out your book! Please don’t hold up the line.
If you’re nervous around talking to new people like I am, have a line to say and rehearse it in your head or a whisper before you reach the signing table. I also find that running my fingers of the book or holding something in my hands calms me down too.
If you’re not awkward like I am… I don’t really know how to advise you. You do you, keep being confident and advance to the signing table!
You’re At The Desk!
Take a deep breath. In… Out…
Hand over the book and Introduce yourself;
Recite your line or question;
Have a lil chat;
Take a photo with the author;
Say thank you, take your books and head off with a huge accomplished smile on your face 🙂
Some Additional Advice From My Friend…
During class, my friend saw that I was planning this post and decided to add his own input which I quoted exactly while laughing really hard (it was funny in the moment, I sware!). Here’s what he had to say.
My BFF Austin: *looks over at my laptop* What to say to authors?
Me: Yeh, it’s a post I’m writing.
Austin: What do you mean? Just say ‘Yo, yo what up?’ *funky Austin hand movements*
Me: No! You can’t say that. Like, I mean you can if you want?
Austin: I know books, I write DND things. I’m the best writer coz I have to improv. things.
Austin is actually a legend. As the DM of our D&D campaign, putting up with our shit and incompetence while having to craft stories, worlds and match back up music (most of the times on the spot), I too would take his advice.
Honestly, say whatever the hell you want to authors. Whether it be ‘Yo, yo what up?’ or something shyer, as long as you are comfortable in the conversation is all that matters.
Just remember that authors/ idols/ etc. are human just like you! Even though they write amazing novels and create masterpieces which origins sometimes cannot be fathomed, they deserve the same respect that you would like to receive.
See you back here on Monday’s (book reviews), Wednesday’s (storytime/ writing updates) and Saturday’s (other bookish content).