Imagine reading your favourite book for the first time, imagine thinking about the author who is nothing more than a name and a photo and the things he writes in dedications and author’s notes and acknowledgements.
Imagine reading those acknowledgements, and wondering who the people thanked there might be. Are they friends? Family members?
Imagine reading more books by the same author, and some of those names growing familiar – that’s his wife, his agent, his editors, the cover artist…
Imagine getting to know your favourite author, online at first and then in person.
(Imagine him telling you a secret and giving you a hug, and staring at yourself in the mirror and wondering if it was really you this happened to.)
Imagine being at your first convention, and running into your favourite author, talking to someone he introduces as his agent, and thinking, “yes, I’ve read your name so many times.”
(Imagine introducing yourself and your friends as, “we’re kind of his fan club,” and being told, “no, you’re not, you’re friends.”)
Imagine being at your second con, and getting the tattered cover of a favourite book signed by the cover artist, whose name you have read many times in those list of helpful people.
(Imagine learning another secret, and calling your favourite author on the phone, because you’re allowed to tell him.)
Imagine walking around that con and being introduced to your favourite author’s editor, who has been thanked in every book.
(Imagine that she’s a dignified-looking older lady, and it’s her job to buy and edit and publish books, but she’s still just as much of a fangirl as you are.)
Imagine going to see your favourite author speak again, and meeting his wife, who he has thanked in his books so many times.
(Imagine going to a party at their house.)
Imagine reading a new book and seeing a name in the acknowledgments that you know, that you’ve written on Christmas cards to a fellow fan before.
Imagine belonging to a group thanked in the next book, and smiling to yourself, because even if nobody knows, you are one of those nameless people.
Imagine reading the next book, and seeing the name of a friend there, someone you’ve met, at whose house you’ve stayed, and being so happy for her.
Imagine helping to correct typos in your favourite books, those first ones you fell in love with, before they are reprinted.
(Imagine the absurdity of remembering learning English with those books, and now this.)
Imagine getting free copies of the reprint and finding your name in the list of helpers at the end of the book.
(Imagine the goosebumps and the happy tears.)
Imagine reading a manuscript, and fighting your way through depression and anxiety to offer some comments, which months later you don’t even remember.
Imagine clicking on a link to find out what your friends are talking about, and finding a preview of the soon-to-be-published book. Imagine seeing your friends being thanked for their help and being happy for them.
Imagine turning the page, and seeing your own name, in a sentence all by itself.
(Imagine how you scream.)
Imagine people reading that book, and reading your name, and wondering who you might be.
(Imagine there are people who think being a fan isn’t a worthwhile thing to do.)