So, yesterday was an event I had been planning and preparing for since quite early in the year – the Manchester Author signing event and gig, officially shortened to #MAEG2016 for the benefit of Twitter users.
It was an early start. I was up at 6 so that I could be at the train station to meet Elizabeth Morgan in time for us both to travel to the site of the event – which was a mining museum near Astley on the outskirts of the city. Things were not helped by the fact I had been persuaded by Samantha Harrington the night before to go to a hotel near the site to meet some of the attendees and have a drink… *. Regardless of that, the meet up at the station went without a hitch and we quickly made our way to the venue, learning on the way exactly how much more expensive train station taxis are compared to pre booked ones.
The event organiser, who writes under the name Scarlett Flame, had spent a lot of the week building up to the event setting up a marquee, a beer tent and Portaloo toilets in the grounds of the museum. By the time Elizabeth and I arrived the place was bustling with people setting up their stalls. We claimed a table and started getting everything ready for the day ahead.
We had lots of conversations with people who came by the stall. Many were interested in what the ‘Tea Society’ was and what it meant. Many of the attendees there were acting as an individual – all the books on their stall had been written by them – however we were there representing not only our own work but those of the other members of the group too which did seem to cause some confusion. I do sometimes wonder if they believe the ‘other authors’ are actually our pseudonyms.** There was a lot of interest in various of the books on the table and many of the bookmarks and cards were taken. We gave out almost all of the swag packs that Elizabeth had prepared and made a couple of sales between us. All in all, about as successful as many similar events I have attended with the promise that future ones will be even better. There was a solid group of people involved in this, both the organisers and the attendees, and a lot of good camaraderie and mutual support going on throughout the day.
We were asked to sign a variety of weird and wonderful things. Many of the authors there
seemed to have an autograph book that got passed around by various of the assistants for us to sign and some asked us to sign things like blank canvases, T-shirts and canvas tote bags. One or two of these items ended up as prizes in one of the many raffles that were going on but many seemed to have them mainly as a memento of the day. We also ended up on video twice over the course of the afternoon. Once by a blogger who was looking to collect footage of authors promoting their books (my contribution was horribly garbled, I hate being on video) and later by Samantha Harrington who was doing a live feed from Facebook of her walking around the site. We get about 5 seconds of fame in that – a brief hello and a wave after she got distracted by corsetry. I will check permissions and share both of these when they are available.
The signing bit of the day ended at 5 and once we had packed up all our stock and cleared the marquee of tables, we went and got some food from the BBQ while the stage was set up for the gig. Unfortunately, due to the vagaries of public transport meaning we had to leave before 9 we only managed to catch one of the acts that were lined up to perform but did enjoy that a lot – she had a good singing voice and played well.
By the time I got home it was late and I was exhausted from pulling the suitcase full of books but I had a sense of having had a good and productive day.
*Which led to a great night out and the chance to meet some of the readers who were there to get books signed. Fun was had discussing everything from Wales to the current economic situation, but did mean I did not get to bed until near 1am.
**Something which will be easily disproved at the upcoming Sandbach Author event in November as that is looking like an event pretty much all the Tea Society is going to so we can all be seen in the same room at the same time with no need to slip off to the toilets to put wigs and false moustaches on – the Ninfa wig really itches too. Only one who cannot make it is R.A Smith. Having trouble finding an actor skilled enough to play him.