So far we've talked about how we treat teenage fans and aspiring authors. Today I'd like to talk about how you can interact with the pros, ranging from other debut authors to ultra-famous conference guests.
This is the area where I've seen the smallest amount of bad behavior, but it's still worth discussing because these are also the most important connections you'll make. Other authors are the ones who will support you with cross promotions, blurbs and general moral support.
Follow these rules to nurture those all-important author relationships:
1) Remember that other authors are potential allies, not competition
Readers don't only buy one book. Judging by the book splurge posts I see everywhere on Twitter and Instagram, most readers buy more books than they can read—and they tend to read at least 6-12 books per year. That's more books per year than any one of us can realistically publish.
And when readers finish a book or series, they often want to find other books like those ones. This makes other authors' audiences a great place to find readers of your own. Work together, and you can potentially double both your readerships.
Author friendships can also do a lot more for you, on both professional and personal levels. They can connect you with excellent author services. They can offer feedback on your works in progress. They can commiserate with your struggles in a way nobody else can.
You don't want to miss out on all the support they can offer.
2) Also remember that authors are real people
This breaks down into two major points: you shouldn't approach other authors only as promotional opportunities, and you should remember that even famous authors were regular people like us once.
When dealing with other authors your goal should always be to build an authentic relationship with another human being. Even if you're only interacting through a large promotional event, make a point of forming a human connection. An author's friendship is far more powerful than one successful promotion. And remember that truly successful authors can always tell when you're trying to use them for promotional purposes.
Since you're trying to build relationships, you should also treat famous authors like they're regular people. You can gush over their work briefly, but remember that you're trying to establish yourself in their mind as a professional author, not simply another fan. Besides, thinking of them as a regular person will make you feel a lot more confident approaching them.
3) Always follow up
Often you'll meet other authors through events, whether they're online or in person. There may only be a few people at this event, but often there are dozens, even hundreds. People might remember you, but you can't count on them to follow up. If you really want those valuable author relationships, you have to put in the work.
Following up doesn't have to be complicated. Simply send an email a couple days after the event saying that you're glad you met them, and thank them for whatever contribution they made to the experience. That opens the door for conversation and eventually friendship.
Relationships develop over time. You get as much out of them as you are willing to put in. Be willing to do the work.
Building relationships with professional authors—especially the famous ones—can be both intimidating and exhilarating. In the end the best thing you can do is treat them like real people, both in your mind and in your interactions. Making friendships with other authors isn't that different from making friendships with anyone else. It's what you'll get out of those friendships down the line that makes them truly special.
Dianna Gunn is author of YA fantasy novella Keeper of the Dawn and columnist at Writer's Corner, writing both Professional Interaction for Authors and Creating Great Characters. She also blogs about creativity, life and books at The Dabbler.
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