Before I was a blogger, I was an awkward fangirl. I would kind of freak out when I met my favorite authors. One time, I even cried. Yeah, that’s me. I was a freshman in college and I ended up crying at Francine Rivers’ book signing (not like sobbing, but I got choked up and teary-eyed) just because her books meant so much to me.
Telling an author how much their books have impacted you is NOT a bad thing, far from it. They need to know how much their work has affected their readers, but you also need to make sure that you don’t make them feel weird or awkward as well, because no one likes being that guy.
So I’m going to give you a few reminders when you meet authors. I know, I know, you’re probably saying, “Who does this chick think she is? An expert on meeting authors?” Well, not really. I’m just a girl who interacts with a lot of authors. Most of the times it’s through social media like Twitter, Goodreads, and email, but I do have some experience with author signings and meeting authors personally.
Over the last six months, Addison and I have become really good friends with two authors: Julie Murphy, author of Side Effects May Vary. She lives in North Texas and attends Irving Public Library events all the time, so we became friends through those events and doing various promotional posts for her book. She’s a super person! Addison and I both adore her spunk and witty personality and overall hilarity. We also became friends with Martina Boone, author of Compulsion (which will be released in October). I became friends with her after reading her ARC. I told Martina that I absolutely loved the story, and through that, I became part of her Street Team and other promotional groups. Obviously, as a blogger it is what we can do for the authors, but through that, you become friends with these people. Yes, they create the most astounding worlds and heart racing characters, but they are still people, and they love getting to know fellow book-lovers.
So here are my reminders to people who interact with authors:
1. Shake their hand.
Instead of overflowing with fangirl words and begging for your book to be signed, shake their hand. That goes a lot further than a signed book in my opinion. Also, authors aren’t used to shaking hands with every one of their readers because they are busy writing signatures, but when you make a point to actual shake their hand, that takes the author out of the normal monotony of a signing.
2. Don’t completely go all fangirl crazy.
I can’t imagine how many John Green fans have gone up to him and just started sobbing uncontrollably. Yes, sometimes that’s just the way your body reacts, but if you can’t express to him in words what you think about his books, write it down in a letter and give it to him at the signing so he can read it later. That will last much longer than his memory of a sobbing teenager. That doesn’t only go for John Green but any other author that might make you react in such a way.
3. Congratulate them.
If they are an award winning author, congratulate them on their hard work. Because yes, it was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went into the writing of their book, and those who are talented enough to win awards like the Michael Printz, William C. Morris, Newberry, etc., should be congratulated for a job well done.
4. Recommend a book you think they would like.
They read too! Obviously say that you enjoyed their book, but make sure to tell them another book you enjoyed after reading theirs.
5. Whatever you do, do not threaten them.
We know the stories of people who faux threaten authors about hunting them down if they decide to kill a certain character. At almost every panel I’ve attended, at least one of them has a story like that. It makes them feel uncomfortable, so for Christ’s sake, don’t threaten them.
The following reminders are for bloggers:
6. DON’T shove your blog down their throats.
I’ve seen a few people do this, and it makes me cringe. The authors are always gracious, but you can see the small grimace on their face when this happens. We are there to help them, not help ourselves. Obviously, it should be an equal partnership, but make sure you are professional. Whenever I meet an author, I give them my card, but I wait until after they’ve signed my book and we’ve chatted a bit. I normally tell them that I would be willing to promote their book if they find they need extra promotional events, and that’s it! I don’t say anything else (unless I received an ARC from the publisher). But don’t make them want to throw your card away after meeting you.
7. When emailing authors, be professional.
Tell them who you are and a short description of your blog or at the event you met them at, then tell them what you can do for them. If you want an interview with an author, ask and add the questions as an attachment so that they can do it quickly and not have to email you back a dozen times. It’s not impertinent, it’s preemptive. However, give them a way out, such as saying that you understand they are very busy because they may not have time to actually answer questions. Be kind, be gracious, and be professional. This also goes for requesting ARCs from publishers (though that would create an even longer list of dos and don’ts).
8. When authors give you promotional items, give them out!
If you get an ARC of a book, don’t hoard it, allow people to borrow it freely. It was given to you freely, and you should freely allow others to take part in the joy of the ARC (unless they are eARCs -that’s something completely different). If they give you bookmarks or bookplates, give them out in your giveaway boxes, or maybe give a few to the local library if you really have a bunch. Any publicity is good publicity.
9. Overall, be kind, be courteous, and be generous.
No one likes a self-entitled person.
Don’t overthink this list, because no one wants to be a stick-in-the-mud, but these are valid points that you should think about before attending events. Be true to yourself when you meet authors. They are just people after all who just happen to write stories that you love. Treat them like you would a normal person and everything will turn out all right.
My name is Amanda. I run a blog called Of Spectacles and Books along with my co-blogger Addison. Both of us are in grad school getting our Masters in Creative Writing, but between crazy classes and studying and living out our adventures, we devour YA books. We sip them in the mornings along with a big cup of coffee and other times we gobble them up in the kitchen right next to our salads. But mostly we just love reading and discussing books with other book-lovers.