In Which Our Heroine Discusses Meeting Authors…

I have returned from what was a very unexpected hiatus that I truly hope will not need to be repeated. Thank you for everyone for sticking with me.

In May, I attended Phoenix Comic Con, which is my family’s convention of choice. One of the things I have enjoyed over the past four years is the writing panels, several which have introduced me to new authors, many of which have given me great writing advice. Over four years, I have seen people who are new to cons who are either uncertain of how to act in these settings or who create blunders unintentionally, so I thought sharing wisdom would be nice.

1) Authors are human too and most are really nice, don’t be afraid to go up at say hi. If there is a long line for that writer, try to be respectful of people waiting for their turn.  I have noted that not all writers show up on the first/preview day of a con but it can be a good way time to see a writer and not worry about crowds. We had a lovely chat with Cherie Priest this way and witnessed Wil Wheaton playing a little prank on John Scalzi.

2) During panel questions of writing craft, remember to ask questions that could benefit more than just you. It is a big no-no to take up that limited time by asking a question specific to your novel in progress. Writers prefer that you ask them these questions when they are at their individual booths. Just remember to not hold up a line with your questions.

Some questions that get interesting feedback (and can benefit more that one person in the room) I have heard include:

What did you not know about writing/publishing that you wish you had?

What rule were you told you had to follow that you found out you didn’t?

What behaviors undermine a “strong” female character?

What themes are inappropriate for YA books?

How is romance handled differently in YA?

Some answers may be subjective, but you do learn some great things this way.

3) Writers do not get paid to show up at a convention, and many fans have already bought their books that they bring to get signed. If an author you are not familiar with gave great advice, don’t grab their book on Amazon later, get one at the convention and get it signed. It may cost you a bit more, but it is a nice way to show your appreciation.

4) Do not ask writers for spoilers in future books.

5) In author spotlight panels, be careful about asking a question that’s more of a spoiler for the book series. If the book came out very recently, there’s a good chance not everyone has read it. If the book has been out for a year, you’re safer. It’s not required, but it is kinda nice to newer fans.

6) Behave like you are a published writer. You will not impress anyone by bashing on a particular author/book and it doesn’t prove that you’re better than that writer. You also never know who else is present including agents or editors. Remember, writers often create communities of their own. I have actually seen someone bash on a particular writer in front of another writer who had been mentored by the bashed on writer. Not a great move. You may notice that many writers will mention other books they support, but not ones they didn’t. It’s basic kindergarten rules. If you can’t say anything nice, keep your mouth shut.

7) I think this is a nice gesture, but when I have found some advice, or a class, to have been very beneficial, and the author returns to the con, I like to thank them in person for that advice.

Does anyone else have questions about meeting writers or advice of their own?