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Top five people at a book launch

Kyra Hanson

1. The next gen author

Anyone who tries to impress Tabitha with nuggets of literary wisdom half-remembered from secondary school will feel a stab of rejection in the pit of their stomach as she cranes her neck in search of someone more interesting to chat to. Any attempt to engage the up-and- coming author in conversation should come with a warning: prepare to be dumped for someone with a PhD in creative writing or a job title at a publishing company.

2. The bitter writer

It took John ten years to secure a book deal for his ‘expermental nvel’ in which he does away with capital letters and every third vowel. He had dreams of picking up a Goldsmiths Prize before the deal fell through because the publisher went bust. Now, he hangs around launches snorting loudly at the calibre of the writing and decrying the state of publishing.

3. The journalist

Maria looks over her black- rimmed glasses, scribbling notes with her Montblanc ballpoint. On the night she’s the author’s best pal, praising their exuberant delivery, asking questions like ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ , ‘Do you write in your own voice?’ and ‘If your book about the secret life of cats were made into a film, who would play the characters?’ Her write-up will confuse the author’s name with that of the book’s lead character.

4. The swot

Greg has a front row seat. He’s hanging on to every word and nodding vigorously. He’s been eagerly awaiting this sci-fi sequel for seven years, two months and five days, so he’s not about to let any backroom chatter drown out his beloved author’s words. He makes a point of whipping his head round and scowling at any latecomers. First in line for the signing, he hovers next to the mountain of freshly printed books like an impatient puppy waiting to be taken for a walk. The queue builds up as he hogs the author with wild theories, inane questions and numerous selfies.

5. The freeloader

Marcus is not here to spend £16.99 on a signed hardback that will sit on a shelf collecting dust like the suckers who have formed an orderly queue behind Greg. He stands at the back, chatting up the bar staff and draining the bar. Belching through the reading, he makes conversation with anyone unfortunate enough to lock eyes with him. The reading ends, the crowd are on their feet before the clapping has stopped, but little do they know that past the chattering couples and crumpled plastic cups is a wine-stained table where all that awaits is half a carton of orange juice and an untouched jug of tap water.

Illustrations: Nathan James Page

By Kyra Hanson who didn’t just pitch up for the free prosecco. Honest.

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