In my time here I get a lot of questions about America and how things differ, and I am noticing that book events differ a lot.
1. You pay for events in the UK.
I should re-phrase the above point: you pay for panels in the UK. Typically it is only about 3-5 pounds, but that's about 5-7 dollars for me, and I have to be stingy with what little money I have. I am not used to paying for any tickets to events in the US unless the events are at the 92nd Street Y, which is why I typically don't go to events there because I can't afford to shell out money on top of buying a book. That poor college student struggle is real. I know in the US most places require you to buy a book, and I go to events expecting that, but it's weird to go to events that have you pay entry and then also purchase a book. I have been mostly avoiding panels because of this, although Jandy Nelson will be here in the UK soon and I've never meet her and I am waffling with whether I should go or not.
2. Launch events, however, are free...if they are open to the public.
I went to both Alwyn Hamilton's and Melinda Salisbury's launches because they were open to the public. Like most exclusive events, launches tend to be invite only here. This is really interesting to me because I would assume a launch is a great way to generate public interest by opening the events to the public, but I suppose the invitations allow the launches to be more focused on readers who are big fans and whatnot. Oh, well, it means this American can't attend anything, but she'll have a fun time going to what she can manage. That's for sure!
3. Launches here are super informal.
They have all the makings of a launch from at home, but they are very different. There's drinks and food, and crowds of people. These people just talk and be merry while the author is milling about the crowd. If you ask the author to sign they will and a line may form in the middle of the party, but otherwise that's the focus of the launch. It's a lot of unstructured mingling with a ten to twenty minute break for the author to make a speech alongside the editors of the book and maybe an agent or two, and then the mingling commences again. Though I've experienced this at several times at this point, it's still hard for me to wrap my head around it because I am so used to the structure of Q&A/games with author/interview/panel questions then audience questions then signing time rigidity of the launches I go to in the states. I suppose that's more like a panel here though.
4. Publishers host events throughout the year instead of just during convention season.
I was speaking to a publicist about this and she found it fascinating, actually. Here in London, a lot of bloggers are located close to each other. Whether they be out in Zone 7 or smack dab in the center of Zone 1 like me, it's very easy for them all to get to each other and geographically they are on top of each other. In the states we are at a sort of disadvantage because we are all so far apart. A publisher may hold a virtual event of some sort if they are able, but they don't host previews such as this as often as UK publishers do because of the inconvenience. When convention season rolls around (BEA, ALA, NYCC to name a few) you know the publishers are out to throw some blogger parties. But, when you think about, London doesn't have that large of a convention season so this is perhaps their answer to that.
Do you think you'd like the more laid back style of events in the UK or the rigidity of events in the US? I am loving how informal everything is here, but I am missing my schedules from back home because it is what I deem as familiar. I am curious to hear your thoughts!