20 May How to sign 2,000 books in thirty-four seconds

Yesterday I went to a warehouse in Basingstoke and had a great time.

While this may be no surprise to any Hampshire-based mass storage building aficionados out there, others may like me to elaborate. I was there to sign the first two thousand copies of The Box of Demons, and I did it in the company of Chris Riddell, author-illustrator extraordinaire, who drew the pop-up cover.

How long did this Herculean task take us?

Just thirty four seconds, not including a lunch break.

Don’t believe me? You can see the evidence below:

Okay, so we might have employed a little bit of trick photography.

At the start of the day, I was a bit nervous. Not just because it was scheduled to take seven hours and I was worried by the end of it my signature might look a bit like Guy Fawkes’s after he was tortured. I’d never met Chris before, and as I’d admired his work for such a long time and was so thrilled with the pictures he’d drawn for The Box of Demons, I was afraid I was going to say something stupid or forget to speak or fall over for no reason whatsoever.

Guy Fawkes's autograph, before and after he was tortured

Guy Fawkes’s autograph, before and after he was tortured

I needn’t have worried. Not content with being an amazingly talented writer-illustrator, Chris is also both very nice and very funny, which instantly put me at my ease and made the day fly by. (There was free food, too, which helped. Plus we not only had Emma and Keren from Macmillan unpacking boxes and opening books for us, we also had the World’s Greatest Editor™, Rachel Petty, on hand too.)

It was a lovely, lovely day and the signing bit wasn’t hand crippling at all. It was fun. It’s hard to be jaded when every few seconds you’ve got another brand new copy of your debut novel under your nose, particularly when it’s as desirable and tactile an object as The Box of Demons is. (Seriously, I would have spent the whole day just opening and closing the magnetic clasp if they’d let me. It makes a very satisfying noise.)

Five o’clock came round before we knew it, and suddenly we had a hundred boxes of signed books ready to go off to independent bookshops, just in time for release on June 4th. Go quick if you want one!

  • Tony West
    Posted at 22:00h, 26 May Reply

    Congratulations Mr Whelan – Keren sent out a copy and it is a thing of beauty. So far as I have read this will be great to recommend, though I suspect it will fly off the shelves without a hitch. We are looking forward to Indies Book week on account of this. Best wishes from us and condolences to Rhyl.

    • Daniel Whelan
      Posted at 09:15h, 05 June Reply

      I certainly hope so! Thanks for stopping by. I hope to visit the Alligator’s Mouth one day soon, I’m (unsurprisingly) a big fan of your carrier bag!

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