I’m about to meet one of my adoring fans.
OK, so they’re also a great friend and writer, so it’s not the same as meeting a fan (or fans) cold. But it got me thinking – what are the things any writer should do before meeting their fans?
So here’s my list – I hope you find it helpful:
1) Shave and shower. OK, so the shaving part may not apply to everyone. But it’s important to give a good impression to your fans.
Sure, in their minds-eye, they see you in your writer cave. But they imagine it as a pristine, sacred space, where your books sit on a nice shelf, papers are neatly placed and squared to the corners of your desk, and you chew thoughtfully on a pencil or fountain pen while you write out your thoughts in a leather-bound journal.
They don’t smell the odor of unwashed writer, or see the twenty half-empty cans of Wild-Cherry Pepsi piled on every open space on your desk, or the stacks of scribbled-on sticky notes you optimistically call your “story outline.”
Play to their good impression of you.
2) Bone up on your own works. A true fan will know far more about your writing and your stories than you do. They have read each of them seven or eight times, and you just dashed the story off, stumbled through edits and then never looked at it again.
So when they ask “Now in Between the Lines, on page 17 you said that Sam’s mother lived in Tucson, but ten pages later, you suggest she actually lived in Central Arizona, and Tucson is in Southern Arizona. What did you really mean?”… you need to be ready with an answer.
“Yes, she grew up in Tempe, a suburb just outside of Phoenix in CENTRAL ARIZONA, but when she was 18, she went for a degree in Astronomy to the University of Arizona in Tucson – in SOUTHERN ARIZONA – and never looked back.
3) Always carry your own pen. You never know when you may be asked for an authograph. You could be walking down the street when someone yells, “Hey Writer!” and you never know if they will have a pen handy.
This has never actually happened to me, but it could.
So I carry a reliable permanent marker at all times that will also work on skin. Just in case your fans aren’t carrying around a copy of your book when they run into you.
4) Be humble. No one likes a prima donna writer. Have a series of humble phrases at hand at all times for when you are asked where your ideas come from or why you are such a great writer:
“Oh, I am just lucky to have been allowed to write for a living.”
“I get my talent from my mother (God, the internet).”
“My success comes from my readers. Without them I would not exist.”
5) But not too humble. No one likes a pushover. Be ready to defend your work if needed.
“Yes, I did really mean to make the sky red in my world.”
“Yes, I really did count the number of steps in front of Capitol Hill.”
And “No, I don’t think Brad should have stayed with Jason. Jason was an asshole.”
6) Never start a flame war with a fan. This last one is one that I can’t emphasize enough, and I am deadly serious about it.
If a fan disses you, or gives you a terrible review online, DO. NOT. ENGAGE. You will always lose. Even if you win, you will lose. The internet is not kind to authors who take down their fans (or even their anti-fans.
Instead, calmly shut down your computer. Walk into the most private room in your house – the bathroom will do nicely for this. Run all the taps (in California, you may need a white noise machine instead as we have no water left. Then scream at the top of your lungs for five minutes.
Once you are done, take a cough drop for your sore throat, and go out for a latte at Starbucks.
OK, I think I’m ready. *takes a deep breath and adjusts writerly bow-tie and glasses* Bring on the fan.