2016 marked the second year I attended YALC, or the Young Adult Literature Convention, based in the London Film And Comic Con in London. Yeah, I’ll just stick to saying YALC.
2016 also marked the first year I’d be going to YALC to get books signed by my favourite authors. Last year I had the luck of nabbing a spot at a talk in a Waterstones with Leigh Bardugo and getting my copy of Six of Crows signed, but this year there’d be panel and crowds and queues.
While I’m not one to get excited about celebrities and want pictures and signed things with their faces on, there’s something special about your favourite books being signed by the authors who wrote them.
I often see a signed book as a ‘thank you for writing this loveliness’ with the response of ‘thank you for believing in me and my words’, along with a smitten of ‘thank you for helping me pay my rent and buy food’, but before the end result comes author interaction.
Author interaction is very similar to an interaction with anyone where you know them but they do not know you; often through media or a seemingly ‘elevated platform’. Examples include Youtubers, actors, and singers. Youtubers are a most recent phenomenon, with meetups and meet and greets and anything where you have to queue to meet another human who has no idea who you are but you cry because they bring you so much pleasure.
The queue for V.E. Schwab. I think I might die here. pic.twitter.com/qOfyT0Nd1Y
— Hollie Wilson (@hollieeblog) July 29, 2016
At 23, I don’t really cry at the presence of other people. At 23, I do get excited when I meet other people who bring me so much pleasure, people who have also mastered and make a living out of a craft that I so aspire to master and earn a living out of. It’s inspiring, it’s admirable.
I met three of my favourite authors this year and all were absolutely lovely, humble, and friendly. However, when you’re stood in a queue for over an hour to meet another human for 30 seconds to smile and squiggle their name on your book, you get to thinking about interactions and the weirdness of them.
First of all, I decided that I would not get a picture with any of the authors I interacted with. This might seem stupid, and it’s totally subjective. When I met V.E. Schwab, wizard of the written word, I said to the girl, Kate, in front of me, that I felt weird getting a photo.
“I guess you’ll have the memory of meeting her.” Kate said, who was most definitely getting a photo. And she was right, to me, the memory was enough. But at the same time, I felt oddly uncomfortable already that I had to queue to meet a person who hadn’t the foggiest who I was, but for me to then ask for V.E. Schwab to have her picture taken with a random ass person who queued to meet her??
I admire the authors who write the books I love so much. They’re talented and their stories deserve to be read. But there’s something strange to me about being in a similar situation with an author as when I’m 5 and with Mickey Mouse.
I also decided that the definition of you know them but they do not know you will be something I live by. Despite having a fairly large online presence and continuously talking to other bloggers and publishers and authors, when I end up meeting said author in a setting such as a book signing, I just cannot possibly assume that they know me.
And while I don’t think you should take my advice when it comes to not getting a picture (you do what you feel is comfortable/appropriate at the time), I would say this; assuming they don’t know or recognize you is a lot easier to handle than “They know who I am because I speak to them on Twitter occasionally.” and then you get to the front of the queue and while they’re lovely and grateful…no, they do not know you, and you can’t muster up the courage (or dignity) to say “Remember me? From Twitter? It’s @hollieeblog. What do you mean you talk to hundreds of people a day?”
Because they do. They talk to a lot of people on Twitter.
You may be lovely to them and they’re lovely back, but there’s a big difference between being polite and actively DM’ing you to meet up (or something else entirely fantastical).
In a more roundabout way which doesn’t involve copious amount of text, here are the bullet points:
- Do what you feel is comfortable in each situation. They are obviously happy to meet you and sign your merch and have your picture taken.
- Queuing to meet another human is weird. Asking for a picture with said human is weirder (for me).
- Authors probably don’t know who you are. If they do, I’m sure they would say. Assume they don’t, despite all those retweets. At least then it’s a pleasant surprise if they do know you!
- Queues are often long and apparently excellent thinking time.