When Speaking With A Published Author…

Tips on how to converse with a published author: (From someone who’s done everything they’re about to tell you NOT to do.)

  1. If speaking to them in person, don’t “Dead-fish” them.

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This is possibly one of the most awkward handshakes known to mankind. It’ll leave you feeling weird if you’re the receiver or leaving you feeling like you were better off high-fiving them if you’re the giver. This handshake is one that makes you wonder if the other person ever engages muscles in their hand. Their grasp is nowhere to be found and they merely rest their phalanges in yours for support. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

(I totally dead-fished Maggie Stiefvater when I met her. At this point, I’m fully aware she’s probably forgotten our first encounter, but I. Never. Will.)

2. When speaking to them in person, don’t assume they want to hear about your ideas unless they ask.

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Of course it’s fine to give a pitch when you’re asked to. Obviously. But when they say something like, “What genre do you write?” they’re not asking you to launch into a five minute synopsis of your latest manuscript or short story. I mean, you totally could. You just might get reactions like this:

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Or this,

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But you know. It’s up to you.

(Yes. This happened to me. I was discussing some industry jargon with Shelley Coriell when the simple question of, “What’s your book about?” was mentioned. This was within the context of trying to figure out what genre I was aiming for, but I took it as my shining moment to give her a full blown pitch. I about twenty seconds into it before I was politely interrupted and informed that I like “paranormal”.)

3. When conversing over e-mail or other written forms, for the love of all things good SPELLCHECK.

This may go without saying, but one should know the difference between their, there, or they’re when talking to someone who’s job is reading and writing. Or that “You’re welcome” was never spelt as “Your welcome”. Also, knowing that there’s a space between the words “a lot” is also very helpful. But maybe, just maybe the one word you should know how to spell is “piqued” and not “peaked”. This is a word used often in pitches, query letters, and so forth. Know. The. Difference.

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((Instead of leaving you with a paragraph explaining this one, I’ll just put this right here:

What I said to Aprilynne Pike:

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What she said back to me:

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And finally, my response back to her:

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You’re dang right I’ll never misspell that word again. It’ll be burned into my memory like that one time I typed out “Your welcome” to two different people at work and on two separate incidences they both corrected me (one not so nicely) that it’s “You’RE welcome”. Or that time in second grade when I could have had a 100% on my spelling test, had it not been for that forgotten gap between the word A and LOT.))

Hopefully, this post was helpful, or at the very least maybe you got a laugh out of it (or if you’re like me you just smile a little at your computer and keep scrolling). While these incidences were embarrassing (or mortifying) for me, I laugh at them, take what I need from it, and keep going. Kind of like that time when I totally fell off the curb in front of one of my son’s teachers. Yep. Definitely laugh about that now and still have the scar to prove it.

Happy writing/reading everyone! And remember, no dead-fishing.

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