Tuesday evening marked two firsts for me: the first book fair I’ve taken my work to, and the first meeting of the Hampshire Writers’ Society I’ve been able to attend. Both were well worthwhile.
The overall experience setting up and sitting behind the table was uncannily familiar after bringing jewellery to so many craft fairs last year, but at the same time it was amazing to be at an event that was all about books. Though I wasn’t the only author there with an anthology, people seemed very interested in flash fiction and the Flash Fiction Month challenge. I think part of that might be down to the table display: the bold colour scheme for the FFM series really jumps out, while the more muted orange-red for Face of Glass kind of blends in. Given that Face of Glass is a serious prehistoric fantasy novel while my flash fiction collections tend to involve naked breakdancing wizards and foxes on drugs, I figure that’s acceptable, but when you get a chance to meet readers in person it’s the sort of thing you notice.
Thinking about cover design, this seems like a good time to mention that I was quite impressed by the paperbacks on the table next to me. Shadows in Sunshine, the book advertised on the banner in the image above, is Richard V Frankland‘s most recent instalment in the Vaughan Thrillers series. What immediately caught me was how nicely the covers tied all the books together:
Laid out as thumbnails, there’s just enough to connect them: the author’s name, a face-on animal photo, and white/yellow text. What you don’t see here is that each of the paperbacks has the eye of the animal at the top of the spine. It’s the sort of thing I think would look really good on the shelf.
All in all, it was a great evening. The organisers had already been doing a lot to get the books out there in the run-up to it, and I noticed a huge increase in the number of people downloading the free flash fiction anthologies. In that respect, the event was also interesting because the availability of the free downloads (and the ₤1 CD version) didn’t discourage people from buying the paperbacks. That’s something I’ve noticed online—indeed, the recent Immerse or Die review of Bionic Punchline is of the paperback version—but it seems particularly significant when people can pick up a leaflet or pay for a book. Paperbacks are a great format to have available, even if your ebook is free.
Though a clash with my MA course had stopped me turning up to any earlier Hampshire Writers’ meetings, I was surprised to find that I’d already bumped into quite a few people there at various readings and author events at the university. HWS doesn’t meet again until September, unfortunately, but I look forward to being able to get involved more often when things get going again. Also, there’s a good chance I’ll see quite a few members at the Winchester Writers’ Festival, which is coming up in exactly one week. Between that, Flash Fiction Day, and Flash Fiction Month, it looks as though I’m in for a fun several weeks!