Tomorrow I’m off up to Exeter for the Author/Blogger Shananigans, organised by the rather fabulous Holly Martin and Kim Nash. Kim and Holly have held these events regularly both in London and Birmingham, but this will be the very first meet-up in Exeter, and I’m so excited to have something like this in the South West.
Sooo... what’s this post about? Well, the thing about authors is that they spend quite a lot of time alone, behind their screens…. And the thing about bloggers is they spend quite a lot of time alone, behind their screens… I’m not saying that we’re all introverts- but we are certainly far more accustomed to emailing, tweeting and facebooking each other than holding face-to-face conversations.
Following some chat online after the last event I went to, and my own observations (read: insecurities!) I thought I’d put together a little survival-guide post as a reminder to myself- and perhaps to offer a little bit of comfort to anyone else who gets THE FEAR!
1. Firstly and most importantly -do not cancel going just because you are nervous- because you’ll really regret it (and I want to meet you).
2. Don’t worry if you’re going alone- because loads of people will be alone. When you go in- if everyone seems to be in groups or paired up – just head over to someone and introduce yourself because I can guarantee that 99% of the conversations already happening around you are between people who have only just met.
3. Make sure your name & blog name is on your name-badge and visible- it’ll help other authors and bloggers seek you out and introduce themselves (especially important if your online identity doesn't have a photo of you anywhere!)
4. Don’t forget that every single person in the room is in exactly the same situation as you. They want to meet other authors and other bloggers. That means that there are people in the room who are just as keen to meet you as you are them.
5. If you know someone is going to be there who you desperately want to chat to- make sure you do. Say hello... talk about their blog / their writing… ask for a pic… whatever you fancy. You could even send them a message in advance saying how much you're looking forward to meeting them - then they'll know to keep their eye out for you. I know this takes balls, but you’ll regret it if you don’t grab the opportunity. (I speak from experience. Let’s just say that I found myself in a lift with Jojo Moyes several years ago, and all I managed to do was squeak at her. I bet she’s lovely… I bet she’d have happily had a quick chat on the way up to the Penguin party. I’ll never know because I was too busy being shy, bright red and squeaky… DOH!)
6. If you have them – take business cards with your blog address, social media and contact details. Then when you get chatting, you can make sure you stay in touch after the event. If you don’t have cards, just print off a handful of slips with the info and cut them out by hand- or jot your details on a couple of notecards… it’ll only take you a few minutes and I promise you’ll wish you had them.
7. Take photos if you want to. When others invite you to be in their pics- squidge in and smile. I really hate having my photo taken- and I can get all awkward about it- then wish I had them as a memento (and of course, for the blog!)
8. If you’re still feeling super-nervous- find out as much about who else is going to be there as you can. If there’s a Facebook page for the event (which there is for tomorrow!) have a trawl of the “Going” list – maybe look people up and follow them on Twitter, on Amazon, see what they’re interested in and what they’ve written recently. This’ll help you figure out who’s who, and arm you with lots to talk about.
9. I’m going to say it again – remember most people are feeling like you… so get chatting… I can guarantee they will have a flock of butterflies following them around too! After the last event, I couldn’t believe it when some of the others (who I’d been watching with silent awe- thinking how confident they were and how they seemed to know everyone)- tweeted that they had been nervous and wished they had the confidence to speak to so-and-so…
10. Forget all the above and just enjoy yourself.
So my lovelies – whether I see you tomorrow or at some future event, please do bound up to me for a chat! I’m looking forward to meeting you, to hearing all about your writing and blogging, your book releases and interviews...
See you soon,