Those who know me won’t be the least bit surprised to learn that three hours before the book signing, I was already nervous and shaking. This was my first time to meet an author so I had no idea what to expect. I respect Alyson so much, for me it was like meeting a Hollywood celebrity. And we all know how well I handle that…I tend to forget how to speak or what my name is, but more on that later.
Alyson started with a reading from the first chapter of Everlasting and then took questions from the audience of about 20 people. She talked about everything from her writing process and characters to a movie deal with Summit. As I mentioned in my last post, some of the things she said hit so close to home for me I almost burst into tears. I’m just glad I didn’t; that would have cemented my weirdo status.
My reason in blogging about this, besides it being one of the coolest experiences of my life, is to say this is how you should treat your fans/readers. Alyson is incredibly friendly to her readers and genuinely wants to get to know them. Months before our meeting, we started corresponding on Twitter. I never thought that a NYT bestselling author would bother to reply to little ol’ me, but she did, again and again. She is an example of how I hope to behave when I have fans of my own someday.
It still kind of amazes me how much social media has opened up the world for authors. I remember being a pre-teen (we didn’t use the word ‘tween then, and I still don’t) and reading Sweet Valley Twins books wondering who the creator of this world was. At the time, there was no Internet, so the best you could do was maybe a photo and a mention of what city they lived in on the back of the book. That made authors this untouchable enigma, certainly not people you could relate to or aspire to be.
Now, I realize there are some writers out there today who have little or no online presence whatsoever and who don’t like to interact with fans. That’s their choice. But I don’t think it’s a good one. Your fans are your bread and butter, the ones who keep you relevant and marketable, so if you know what is good for you, you’ll be good to them. How much is up to you. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, email, meet-and-greets, all of these things forge very valuable connections between author and reader that keep both coming back for more. (Can you see my PR background shining through?)
As an as-of-yet unpublished writer, these connections and support are all the more important to me. I’ve gotten advice from published authors online and in person that I think of every single time I write. As I told Alyson, just knowing I have her support means the world to me. It’s what helps get me through the rough times in my day job, writers block and the daunting task of querying agents. Just knowing they went through all the same things, were succesful and are rooting for me (even if in only the smallest way) can mean the difference between persevering in making a dream come true and giving up.
So, thank you, Alyson (and all the others who have encouraged me along the way). I only hope I can return the favor someday.
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