Charlie Cochrane, the organising team’s official keeper of the timetables and mistress of the whistle, is here today to share her thoughts on how the UK Meet has grown over the last three years, and what’s going to make this year even better than what’s gone before!
Look at us…all grown up!
The first UK Meet consisted of twelve authors in a room above a library, scoffing tea and cakes and chatting. Unfortunately I missed that as our boiler went flop-bot, but I’ve been to the two Meets since and I have to say the beautiful baby of an event is now a gorgeous child. There are still seemingly endless supplies of tea – and provisions of all sorts for scoffing – and there’s still plenty of capacity for chin-wagging with people who understand our love for our genre. UK Meet means never having to say you’re sorry for what you read or write or publish or review.
The biggest change is in size and attitude. The twelve authors grew to best part of seventy established authors/readers/aspirant authors/publishers/reviewers in 2012. Now, those sorts of numbers can be a bit scary, but we managed to retain intimacy, by making sure we had plenty of time for socialising, by organising events-within-the-event which were on a smaller scale (of which more anon), and by avoiding the painful sort of “ice breaking” sessions that many of us have endured at corporate events. “Novel openings” eased us all into the convention part of the day without too much pain.
We’ll be trying to produce the same “professional but friendly” mix this year, having a similar starter session on a subject – the development of covers – which everybody can pitch in their two penn’orth on if they wish.
In 2012 we had two sets of panels running, in different syndicate rooms. We’ll be doing that again, pitching at different audiences. We’ve been told that aspiring authors have found the event really useful – as have readers – so we want to make sure they’re catered for. We also had an experimental session, the Buffet of Banter, which consisted of smaller tables where people could sit and discuss slightly more eclectic topics (such as shifters or BDSM). It was a huge hit so we’ll be repeating – and extending! – it in 2013. We’ll also be picking up panels/tables on some of the subjects our delegates asked to see on the programme.
But wait, there’s more! What else was new in 2012? More (optional) social events. Branded event shoulder bags crammed with goodies of all sorts. (Ah, the great sheep wars they sparked…) Those goodies included a USB stick chock-full with free fiction and useful things like publisher submission details. And a printed programme and badges on lanyards and…well, everything you’d expect from a proper convention, because this is what UK Meet now is.
Except there’s one big difference. Every delegate still matters, the “industry” side of things runs alongside rather than over-running the social, and we’re all there because we love our genre.
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries. She lives near Romsey but has yet to use that as a setting for her stories, choosing to write about Cambridge, Bath, London and the Channel Islands.
Charlie’s website: www.charliecochrane.co.uk