I don’t recall that I was given lines much at school, perhaps on the odd occasion, I guess I was a bit of a swot? Probably no surprise then to my classmates that I grew up ( allegedly!) to be a librarian. In the same vein I know it’s a bloody shock to my English teacher that I grew up to be an author, I think she must have worn out more red pens correcting my grammar and spelling than I’ve worn out running shoes over the years. Writing the same thing again and again ( what lines are if you didn’t know ) would have been good practice for my first book signing that took place this past Saturday.
It took place at the Waterstones book store in Lancaster and was part of the celebrations for the inaugural World Book Night . To say that I was nervous would be a severe understatement, I couldn’t sleep the night before, my poor wife Em said that I was worse than any pre-race state I usually get myself in. It was fear and embarrassment I guess. This is probably hard to believe, I’m naturally very shy with people I don’t know, I was always then one stood in the kitchen or sat on the stairs at a party. I guess years of not being comfortable in my own skin made me that way, and although I’m more confident these days it still lingers. So the fear of talking to strangers and the embarrassment of being sat there on my own not selling one book. Even that mornings bike ride with Team Thurnham cycles couldn’t completely clear my head but it helped. ( More on that in tomorrows blog )
So I turn up at Waterstones ready for a two-hour signing stint, having remembered to pick up a pen on the way out of the house. There right by the front door is a table set up with a pile of my books on it and a sign explaining who I am and what the book is about. Also sat there is Pauline Turner the other author signed to the event.
Pauline was a very nice lady, and one of the world’s leading experts on the craft of crochet. She was the first person to ever crochet ice-cream after a tv producer bet her she couldn’t do it. She was there promoting her latest book, a self help / make you think read entitled Why do you think you are?
My worries were immediately quashed as soon as I sat down because I hadn’t even got comfy in my chair when I signed and sold my first book. And from there it didn’t really stop for the next 90 minutes. I mean there weren’t queues out of the door but I wasn’t sat twiddling my thumbs either. It was great to see many friends such as Andy H and family and Richard G popping in to say Hi and lend moral support – they knew that I’d been bricking it in the days before hand. Em and Charlotte also put in an appearance but as you can see from the photo below, Charlotte took it all in her stride and slept through proceedings.
I had a fascinating chat with a guy called Denis. Denis must have been in his late 70’s/early 80’s and very slowly limped up to the desk with the use of a cane. I initially thought he wanted to talk to Pauline but no he’d come to see me. Denis had been a cyclist in his youth and had seen my interview in the paper the week before. He spent an hour on the bus to get to the signing because he thought my story sounded like a good one. He had a massive grin on his face when I wrote “Denis, Hope you enjoy my book, Best Wishes Andy Holgate”. That grin made my day, simple words and scrawl making a man like Denis who’s seen more in a lifetime ( he was a Barrow shipbuilder and then travelled the world on oil tankers before retiring to Heysham ) than I have yet to experience was priceless.
My signing finished about 45 minutes early as I unbelievably sold out all of the shops stock. The manager actually took me to one side at the end and apologised for not getting more books in and promoting me being in store more. I was quite happy to have just had the opportunity to meet some fascinating people and to have a gentle introduction to feeling like a proper author signing books. I shook Pauline’s hand, wished her well with her books and went off to join Em and Charlotte for a well-earned latte.
I’m next doing a book signing at Waterstones Trafford Centre in Manchester on Saturday 2nd April from 1pm. As this is one of their flagship stores it’s a big deal to be asked to go there.
It would be great if you could spread the word, and it would be even better if any of you are in the area if you popped in and said Hello. Would be nice to meet some readers.
Until then I’ll keep practising writing my name, hopefully then I won’t miss-spell it.