Let’s talk interacting with authors IRL (in real life) or online. This is your opportunity to talk about your favorite author readings that you have attended. Or, you can feature your favorite author fan moment (i.e., an author sent you a tweet or commented on your blog). Maybe you even want to share how your interactions have changed since becoming a blogger or share your own tips that you have learned along the way when interacting with authors as a blogger.
For a blogger, I don’t think I interact with authors all that much. I have been to a total of two author events (not hosted by my college, which would add three more): one in 2012 and one just this year. On social media, I am likewise not as interactive with authors as I notice many other bloggers are; some sound as if they’re practically besties with the authors they’re tweeting!
However, I do think I am more open to the idea of interacting with authors than I was before I began blogging. Perhaps it’s a sense of authority; perhaps it’s just that I know more about the publishing industry and know that authors, though brilliantly creative and hardworking people, are still people—and they’re approachable. From blogging, I have learned that authors like interacting with bloggers and with fans of all types, and that it’s totally okay to send them an email or a tweet telling them your love their work! (Of course, I always knew that because, really, who doesn’t like being told that they’re awesome? But seeing other fans have fun, positive interactions with authors really brings the message home and is a good reminder that your message will be welcome and valued.)
For those just starting to reach out to authors, I do have a few tips gained from my own limited experience, from observing others, and from reading authors’ blogs and other statements about how they like to interact with fans.
1.) Be brief where you can. Authors, particularly very popular ones, get a lot of fan mail. It’s okay to be effusive and tell them exactly how much you appreciate their work and to ask them any questions. Just remember to be respectful of their time, and realize that no matter how much they want to, they may not be able to respond to every message.
2.) Be positive. You’re not going to like every book you read, and you’re not going to love every sentence or every scene of books that you do like. Share that information with your friends, your family, and your blog followers. Share it with the publisher if you were sent an ARC and asked to provide feedback. Do not purposely bring your criticism to the attention of the author. They know not everyone in the world loves their book, but it probably still hurts to be told directly that someone thinks they have no talent. And, don’t worry, they have friends and editors and writing groups to help point out, constructively, where they can improve.
This guideline also applies to tweeting or otherwise sharing reviews on social media. If the review is negative, please refrain from intentionally tagging the author. If they read fan reviews, they might run across your thoughts anyway, on their own. But there is no need to draw their attention to the fact that you dislike their work. If you wouldn’t tell someone in person you think they can’t write (which you probably wouldn’t because it’s generally considered rude), don’t passive aggressively try to tell them the same thing by tagging them on Twitter.
3.) If you’re planning on sending a lengthy email, read the author’s website. Many authors have a brief list of guidelines for contacting them. They may not strictly enforce them or send the email police after you if you don’t follow them, but reading though the website might save you both some time. Check the FAQ section before asking a question they already answered and, if the website says specifically that they do not read manuscripts or do not do blog interviews, don’t ask them to do so. Just as you expect authors to read your blog/review policy before emailing you, you should read an author’s policy.
4.) Don’t be afraid! As I explained in my post intro, authors are generally very open to speaking with their fans! I have had authors ignore review links where I tagged them (probably authors who opt not to read fan reviews), but I have never had an author ignore a direct comment or question I sent to them over social media. I have even received email responses from authors who warn on their websites that they may not have time to respond to every email. So if you’ve always wanted to ask an author or question or just gush about their books to them, find their contact information and go ahead!