We had a great time at this year’s Nine Worlds Geekfest. We had only just returned from a wedding in the South of France (where we first had to acclimatise to the heat), when we were rushing around preparing for our biggest convention of the year, in the damp and dull London weather. But as soon as we arrived at the Novotel everything brightened up (apart from the weather!)
The first sight to welcome attendees was the sign inviting us into the convention centre and leading to the registration desks.
We had the honour and privilege to be gold sponsor for this year’s Nine Worlds and had a very visible presence which was very humbling (every room had a display outside with our planet-clock logo next to the Nine Worlds logo as above). We were very proud to be supporting such a fantastically inclusive event.
One of the benefits of being sponsor was to be able to provide a booklet for the attendees’ goody bags. As we were having a launch party for two books on Saturday afternoon, it seemed like the best use of that opportunity would be to provide a sampler of both books, as well as the chance to show off our lovely authors, artists (and now, first voice artist) as well as all our book covers. (I have already blogged about this booklet when we delivered it on the Wednesday beforehand, but in case you missed that, here’s a look at it anyway:)
Friday morning started off rather busy as we had exciting news to pass on: a Press Release about Rebecca Hall’s Symphony of the Cursed trilogy being released as unabridged audiobooks by Tantor Audio; and Peter R. Ellis’ new September Weekes novel Cold Fire (following on from his Evil Above the Stars series) being available in eBook format.
We had a double table in the Vendors’ room and spent the rest of Friday morning setting it up. If you’ve seen us at any other events you’ll recognise our layout:
When the doors to the Vendors’ room opened at 1 o’clock, there was a queue of people waiting outside. But, overall, Friday was fairly quiet (as at most conventions). Throughout the rest of the weekend it was always clear when the panels had ended (there was a 45 minute gap between sessions to allow for winding down, setting up and getting from one panel to the next – a model that should be followed by other conventions!) as the Vendors’ room quickly filled up for about half an hour and then thinned out for the next hour. After the first of these influxes of people it became clear that we had insufficient light above half of our table (and some other vendors’ tables too) as most of the ceiling lights were in the centre of the room putting our table in the shadow of anyone who was standing trying to look at our books. Meriel from Nine Worlds was looking after the vendors and she and Jess (who was the Nine Worlds interface with the hotel) set off on a mission to resolve the problem. The hotel had no standalone lamps to offer, but a while later Jess re-appeared with a whole load of very cool strings of lights, that she had bought at a nearby Primark, and distributed them to those vendors who needed more light.
The lights proved to be an attraction in themselves and I’m sure Jess could have made a decent commission supplying them to all the people who came up to ask where we had got them!
As at last year’s Nine Worlds, we spent the weekend chatting to some lovely people: imaginative, amusing, entertaining, thoughtful, even profound at times. It didn’t matter whether they were in the guise of a squirrel, dalek, alien, evil witch, jedi, lemming, or even human. The Nine Worlds attendee badges included communication preference overlays and pronoun stickers to help ensure not just inclusivity but also prevent inadvertent offence (another model that could usefully be followed by other conventions).
We also endeavoured to sell some books, of course, and had spirited discussion on the relative merits of eBooks and print editions (and, indeed audiobooks) with more than one visitor to our table.
On Saturday evening, at 5pm, we held the aforementioned book launch party. Setting up was greatly eased by the unexpected help provided by Nine Worlds staff who were on hand to reconfigure the room for us. We had John Gribbin and Zoë Sumra reading from their new books (Don’t Look Back and The Wages of Sin, respectively), and talking a little about themselves and their writing in response to questions from the audience and from our interviewer Peter R. Ellis. The audience was not as large as we had hoped – but it’s quality not quantity that’s important and they were a splendid bunch of people! The other advantage of fewer attendees is that we had plenty of wine left over to bring home (which we will be quietly drinking over the next few months).
All too soon, Sunday afternoon arrived and the Vendors’ room closed its doors and everyone started disassembling their tables. Within an hour, we had our books, posters and other paraphernalia all packed into boxes ready to be taken home (courtesy of our youngest daughter) – and once again the ever-helpful Nine Worlds staff quickly moved our boxes down to the loading area for us while we waited for the car.
Sunday evening was spent in a nearby Italian restaurant with friends, enjoying delicious food and lively conversation. Monday morning we checked out and headed for the train home.
Although we have been attending conventions almost since the inception of Elsewhen Press, it is still both exciting and exhausting. So we are always very grateful for the help that we get from our authors, friends and the convention organisers and volunteers. This year’s Nine Worlds was no exception. We made it through, more or less retaining our sanity, thanks to the support and help of our authors Siobhan McVeigh, Peter R. Ellis, Christopher Nuttall (along with Aisha and, of course, Eric who gains more fans at every convention!), Zoë Sumra (with Misha and Sylvianne), John Gribbin, Rebecca Hall, Edwin Hayward, and Susan Oke, and the support of Nine Worlds staff and volunteers especially Meriel and Jess.