Empire State Launch

Point before opening: filming Adam reading from Empire State has apparently done for my little Lumix camera. Dagnabbit, there was going to be video footage and everything.

Anyway. Where was I?

I was here: debut signings at FP. Thanks to the meticulous records of Mr. Veasey, we’ve had a look back through them – at Gareth Powell, at Mark Charan Newton, at Scott Lynch, to name but a few. I haven’t got accurate attendance figures, but Adam’s was way up there – an event that came together with support from family and friends, journos and bloggers, publisher(s) and fans, where every layer of the industry joins in to give someone a proper flying start.

And Adam (I must stop thinking of him as @ghostfinder, damn you Twitter!) is the New Face in more ways than one. This is not only a new book – this is a new World. The Empire State really is a parallel dimension – in the World-Builder project, everyone can play. It hearkens back to the gaming of my youth; those bright-eyed and idealistic role-playing sessions where there was no GM and everyone could share in the creativity, man. This time, though, I suspect a stronger structure *g*.

Find details of the Empire State World-Builder, and how you can help create and populate it, here.

Thank you to Lee and AR for their support, and for bringing both Adam and the Empire State to us… and to everyone who came and broke that bottle of champagne over the author’s head.

The humble book signing is currently subject to a lot of doom-saying – I’m sure I don’t need to go into why. Events like last night prove that ‘doom’ is not necessarily the case.

What is, is change.

*Never* be afraid to do the new thing.


Last Night’s Who Signing

Sometimes, things just work. No matter how big they may be, or how many cats need herding, they reach a kind of social critical mass – and it all just falls into place.

So it was last night.

Outside, we had fans queuing for hours in the cold – clutching dedicated pieces of Who memorabilia they’d treasured for years. We all know the return of Who has spanned the generations, bringing families together on a Saturday evening – my son is seven and no-one feels this more than I do. But to see it really brought to life is quite something. From the girl from the US with the TARDIS earrings and the painted jacket, to the Dad with FOUR eager cubs out there with him… truly, the Doctor spans space and time.

Inside, everything was gleefully organised chaos. Steven Moffat chatted to his gobsmacked fans, Mark Gatiss had a thing about peg dolls, Ben Cook offered very fine scarlet hair and Tom MacRae offered equally fine studded scarlet boots – the writers of Who are a garrulous and colourful bunch. The atmosphere they brought with them was voluble and festive.

Chatty or not, they’re efficient – flawlessly herded by Clayton Hickman and Garry Russell, the whole crew really linked with their fans and put in a sterling evening’s work.

Prior to last night’s event, we’d been a little nervous about accommodating something of that size – that many people, that many fans – but experience tells, it seems, both theirs and ours. Either that, or FP is bigger on the inside.

At the end of yesterday evening, a great many people went home laden with presents and smiles. They’d had a moment, and they’d snagged something cool for Christmas Day.

And that’s really what makes this stuff special.


How To Sign An EBook – Part Two

The Sharpie has dulled.

Why? It’s the answer to the industry’s most burning question – ‘how do you sign an eBook?’ – and it’s called ‘Autograph Now!’. It allows the author to sign, not the device, but the ebook itself.

From social networking site BookieJar, this new technology permits the author to sign on any touch screen device, or on any PC with a mouse. They can create a generic signature for all of their readers, or respond through BookieJar to dedicate a signature to an individual, or make drawings or sketches. There are also various security methods to ensure the facility isn’t abused.

In short, it looks very much like the thing we’ve all been thinking about every time the nice delivery man asks us to sign for our groceries – and it has a reader/writer self-pub network to back it up.

But will it catch on?

At a public event, being able to ‘virtually’ sign an eBook is a very cool thing – I’ve seen the looks on readers’ faces when William Gibson (who else?) does exactly that. It’s little piece of techno-future, a thrill of new.

As a site, BookieJar does virtually what a signing does in person – it connects authors (directly) with their readers, and vice versa. It makes the retailer in me nervous… but my twitter self jumps up and down and squeeees like a girl. It’s the logical progression of the #amwriting hashtag – and adding the signature gives it the personal touch of a real connection.

That same touch that William Gibson gives when he signs an eBook in person.

Signing ebooks is becoming a necessity; we all know that. Close as our SF/F community is here in the UK, and much as we all love our tactile bookshelves, the ereader has crept up on us, picking us off, one at a time.

For the moment, BookieJar is still growing – but if the idea expands beyond self-pub, or if this technology could be used through Twitter, or Facebook, or G+, or even through author’s own sites…

Then the future has arrived.

(See the previous article to this one on my old blog).