I was quite nervous when I crept into Waterstones Middlesbrough for my first official book signing two weeks ago. I kept fiddling with the lovely new red pen my Dad bought me for book signing. But I shouldn't have worried; the staff were lovely and I soon got into the swing of it. In fact, when I think about it, I've never met an unpleasant person in a bookshop - customer or member of staff. Bookshops just don't attract the chavvy types, do they? Everyone in these hallowed vaults is cheerful, helpful, literate and - as it turned out - prepared to listen for a few minutes to the ramblings of a nervous, new author.
Before my first signing I did a little research on the Internet. I was unsure what to expect so I thought I'd google the experience and prepare myself. There wasn't much on t'internet but I did find an interesting article from another author on: 'The Etiquette of Book Signings.' It seems that this jaded lady has a problem with rowdy queues, members of the public who always want her to read their own half-written novels and several individuals who didn't know when to stop talking and move on.
Gosh, I thought. Crowd control. It is going to be like being back in the classroom, surrounded by noisy and demanding individuals, all shoving their work under my nose for marking.
No, it wasn't. Maybe Martina Cole or Stephen King occassionally have experiences like this...but the above is definitely not the experience of an unknown newbie like me. There were not been any rowdy queues awaiting my arrival in Waterstones. I didn't come home with an aching wrist from signing my name two hundred times. Nor did anyone pass me a dog-eared manuscript and a red pen...
Meeting the public can be fun - and quite surprising. I asked one lady today, if she liked novels based on a true story?
She immediately replied: 'Oh no - they make me cry.' An instinctively honest answer - although not quite what I was expecting.
One little old lady (whose hearing aid clearly wasn't working) decided that I was a member of staff and asked me to show her where she could buy a nice pen for her seventeen year old grandson. I was quickly rescued by Les Conroy, the Guisborough store manager.
'You've been here over an hour, Karen, ' he joked. 'Haven't you worked out where the pens are yet?'
All in all, I'm enjoying it. It's hard work but it's fun. I'm meeting interesting new people - including other authors - and slowly my novel is reaching a wider audience. Everyone has to start somewhere. :)