Confession time. I have never done a book signing.
Oh, I have signed books for people, I am more than happy to, though I am generally slightly bemused anyone wants me to sign a book. But I have never done a book signing. Or indeed any book-related event. I know it is the sort of thing an author should do. I know getting out there and meeting people, talking to them, and hopefully selling a few books is a good thing to be doing. But I never have for a couple of reasons.
The first is all it’s to do with imposter syndrome. You know the sort of thing. That nagging feeling you get that you don’t really belong somewhere. That you’re blagging it at work, or in some social gathering, in the book group you go to, or the semi-regular gathering of writers you attend, all the while hoping no one will spot that you’re just faking it, that you’re not really interesting, or know what your doing, or clever, or fun to be around. That assured knowledge, praying on the back of your mind, that the world will come crashing in around you and people who you hope may not have noticed they don’t like you very much will figure out that you really are a worthless individual, just faking his way through life, and tell you to sod off… And just because they haven’t yet, doesn’t mean they won’t do some time soon.
Almost everyone gets the occasional dose of imposter syndrome. I may even get it no worse than average, though I suspect that’s not the case because I get it rather a lot, about almost everything. I get it around people I have known for years, quite literally in fact. I go to a geeky boardgame convention in February each year and meet up with a bunch of people some of whom are among my best friends in the world. I have been going for something around twenty years, everyone there knows me, knows me better than my family in many cases. Yet I get those same imposter feelings every time, even there. So imagine just how much I have to cope with it in other places…
Over the years I have developed a lot of ways to combat this feeling. Not to mention the mild terror, and occasional shift towards depression that it sends me to. To be clear, imposter syndrome is not really a symptom of my occasional bouts with the old black dog, I get it whether I am suffering from a bout of depression or not. But when I am down in the dark cave imposter syndrome feels worse, pushes me further down and bites at my psyche with gnashing teeth of insecurity. But as I said I have developed my own ways to combat it. When I was younger, the favourite tactic was to be the loudest, brashest, and often just plain meanest person in the room. I was young, I was foolish, and while those two things are not mutually exclusive, age and wisdom have cured me of the worst of these excesses. That and developing a thicker skin, and learning to just let people take me as I am, rather than investing my anxieties and self-doubt into trying to be a person I’m not.
I’m still brash, I’m still a tad loud, and I am, for my sins, occasionally a little meaner than I intend to be.
I do however still suffer from imposter syndrome, and the utter terror of been found out. I can talk about it, just as I can talk about my episodes of depression. But that doesn’t stop either one of them nagging at me from time to time. But hell, I’m a writer, not a comedian, not an actor, not a musician. ( trust me on this, I may own a lot of guitars, but I can’t play any of them worth a damn.) So I spend my time at a keyboard, writing words and sending them out into the world in the vainglorious hope someone may deem fit to read them. I exist therefore in a bubble, where I don’t actually have to go engage with my audience. Which is good, as the thought of sitting behind a table talking to strangers about my books is one that terrifies me.
The other reason I have never done a book signing is more prosaic. No one has ever asked me to. (yes I could have set one or two up, talked to local book shops, investigated some book fairs, all kinds of things, but as long as no one asked me to do one I was safe in my little bubble of insecurity because I wouldn’t do so. Even though it is exactly the kind of thing, I should be doing.) And if no one ever asked me to do one, well then I was perfectly safe in that bubble, not doing them.
So, as I said I have never done a book signing…
So I will be at SFS SciFi Scarbrough on Saturday, April 6th, between 2:00pm and 3:00pm, behind a table in Authors Alley (handily located in the bar) signing copies of ‘A Spider in the Eye,’ ‘A Scar of Avarice’, ‘Passing Place,’ and possibly even the odd copy of ‘Cider Lane’.
I will be skillfully hiding my imposter syndrome beyond the wit of any prospective reader by wearing a big hat with cogs on it. Trying not to feel like I have no business being there. Luckily no one will be expecting me because I’m not on the posters, but I will be there with Craig Hallam, Graham Rhodes and C G Hatton, who are. So pop along, if you happen to be there, or just in Scarborough. Buy a book or two and chat to some great authors ( and also me, the one in the big hat, possibly wearing goggles, a big coat and trying to hide under a cravat.)
As well as my own novels, I’ll have copies of the Harvey Duckman Anthology (which features a Hannibal story by me as well as stories by CG, Craig and several other writers who will be down there over the weekend) on the table, as the publishers Sixth Element are launching it that weekend. So it’s a one-off opportunity to get a copy of this awesome anthology signed by several of the writers… Which, you never know, may make it quite a collector’s item in years to come when some of the new writers in the anthology become the literary stars, or on the off chance anyone really cares about signed copies of my books. ( well you never know, just because my imposter syndrome tells me that will never happen doesn’t mean won’t )
Anyway, if you get down to Scarbrough, I will be more than pleased to talk to you, and certainly not hiding in a corner. If not the anthology, is available for pre-order on Kindle, and my books, well you know how to find them (and if you don’t then click the links at the side.)
Adios for now.