The Writer’s Block: So You’re About to Meet an Author

I do a lot of events. Conventions, fairs, craft shows . . . you never know when my smiling face is going to pop up from behind a table. (Next Saturday, you’ll find me at SuperMegaFest with Rob Watts: stop on by!) Over the years, I’ve found that some fans are wonderful, and some of them are maybe not so much. Want to know the “dos and don’ts” for meeting an author? Here they are:

  • DO feel free to talk about your favorite books. Writers love to read. Some of my favorite conversations have started with “So, what are you reading right now?”
  • DON’T feel free to trash famous authors on the sole premise that they’re successful. If you don’t like James Patterson’s writing, that’s fine, and a valid opinion (though I’d encourage you to read Kiss the Girls). If you don’t like James Patterson because he’s one of the world’s best-selling authors yet hires writing partners because he really doesn’t need to work hard anymore, okay, you don’t like James Patterson, the man. But please don’t go off on a diatribe about how Patterson’s writing sucks because he hires writing partners. Learn to hate correctly, I always say.
  • DO tell an author that you liked their book. That’s always wonderful to hear. I also encourage you to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
  • DON’T tell an author that you like their boobs. That’s inappropriate.
  • DO feel free to ask for a signature, a hug, or a photo with your favorite author. That’s quite flattering, and many of us are happy to do it.
  • DON’T go in for a hug:
  1. without asking;
  2. when you’re sweating like a runner wearing a parka who just did the Boston Marathon in August while carrying a rotting whale carcass;
  3. and do the reach-around to cop a feel.
  • DO ask the author what their book is about and the intended audience. If you’re looking for a book for your pre-teen, I don’t want to sell you a copy of Ordinary Boy. You’ll be angry that the content is too old for them and inappropriate, and I’ll lose a potential returning reader. But beware: there are some unscrupulous writers out there who will lie to you just to get the sale. If they’re coming across as a snake-oil salesman, don’t trust them.
  • DON’T tell an author what they should’ve written or done with the plot/characters instead. A lot of blood, sweat, tears, editing, and revisions happened before you read the final book. Telling us how you would’ve done it instead is insulting and demoralizing.
  • DO stop and chat for a few minutes . . . if there isn’t a line. My favorite things to talk about are writing, editing, and reading. I have a few (okay, two) close friends that I originally met when they stopped to talk at an event.
  • DON’T ask for a phone number, home address, or what our blood type is when you meet us. Too personal, folks.

There you have it. Feel free to print out this list and carry it around with you so you’ll be fully prepared for your next author encounter.

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