In the past several months, I've had the opportunity to do a number of author events so I've gathered data and here's some things book fans need to know when meeting an author:
1. I do NOT expect you to recognize me without me introducing myself, even if you are the events planner, my biggest fan, my grandmother (okay, she should recognize me), or someone who's done forensic analyze on my author photo (and if you have...creepy! or else you know something...).
People never look exactly like you expect from an author photo. I've gotten all kinds of comments mostly along the lines of..."oh, you're much smaller than you look in your photo..." So, apparently I look strong and bad-ass in my picture and less than that in real life. I'm cool with that. So, don't go home and brood over not recognizing your favorite author in person...it's okay. I promise.
2. I do NOT expect you to have heard of my novel or know what it's about. And guess what...I am usually VERY surprised when people have heard of me. For example, I saw YA author, Stephanie Perkins, in the bathroom during Romantic Times Teen Day this past April and I said hi and told her my name and she said..."Oh...Tempest, right?" and I nearly fainted. No lie.
And guess what else, if you haven't heard of the author you meet's novel(s) then they get to TELL you about their books and then possibly gain a new fan. Which, to be honest, isn't possible if you're already a fan. See? It's a win/win situation. This may happen to you if you go to an event where there are multiple authors and maybe you are there for one or two of those authors and the other two or three you haven't ever heard of...you might start to get a little nervous about having books signed because you don't know at least one of the authors and you don't have enough money/arm strength to buy their books, too, don't even think about sneaking out the back or quickly google educating yourself (googicating?). There's no need.
Feel free to walk right up to them (don't interrupt the show or anything) and tell them, "I'd never heard of your book, but now I want to read it" or "I know my sister would love to read it" or "I'm going to recommend it to all my friends who like unicorns under water"...or whatever. I would be shocked if this didn't please them very much.
3. You do NOT need to feel guilty about not buying an author's book at an event. Authors know better than anyone that books are expensive...in fact, some of us tried to get paid in free books instead of money...some of us only started writing so that books and book conventions could be tax deductible. We get that people have e-readers, that hard cover novels are expensive (and heavy), we get that people use the library and borrow books (this is awesome!), and we do realize that every person will not be able to read every book ever made so yeah, we know you might not ever read our book(s). This is OKAY too.
In general, I live under the assumption that the majority of people will NEVER read my book so if you choose to read my book, I won't be only satisfied or simply not upset, I'll probably be ecstatic. Or at least I'll use the word really or excited or even really excited.
4. If you HAVE read an author's book before meeting said author and you a) didn't really like their book or maybe you gush to the author beside her/him that he/she has written your favorite book, do NOT feel bad. This isn't little league baseball. Everyone doesn't get to bat and everyone doesn't get a trophy. We know that. When you write something that makes one person fall in love with a book you are 100% at risk to make another person hate your book. The best selling novels almost always have love/hate relationships with readers.
OR b) you read it, liked it, and suddenly you forget the main character's name or the love interests name...don't panic! Seriously. It's an author's job to remember those details and to make the readers remember them. It's not your job to be ready for a book pop quiz prior to an author event. If you are, that's cool, too. We will might even shed tears of joy upon learning how much you remember but we don't EXPECT it. Trust me. We are writing for you. You are the customer. The customer is always right.
5. If you meet an author you haven't heard of before or you haven't read their novel and the reaction does not follow along with what I have preached in this post...well, all I can say is everyone can turn life into high school and if that's the case, it's their loss, in my opinoin. I'm hoping this never happens amongst authors, but I know there's always exceptions to every situation.
And guess what...authors screw up too...with other authors and man we should know everything, right? I mean it's our job. For example, I failed to recognize Jay Asher the first (and only) time I met him in person. He was very forgiving.
Here's the big secret: Authors are people too. We seriously are. I swear.
So, who have you met and why did you love/hate this experience? Did you have an embarrassing moment with an author that you have been mopping about for months and months or like a day?
Also! The contest to win a signed copy of TEMPEST and Signed ARC of VORTEX is still going on here