//Things You NEED To Know When Meeting An Author

I know the title makes it sound like I can speak for all authors, but unfortunately, I can’t. BUT I want to invite any and all published authors to speak up as to whether they agree or disagree with my take on this matter. Otherwise, I guess my opinoin will stand for all.

In the past several months, I’ve had the opportunity to do a number of author events so I’ve gathered data and here’s some things book fans need to know when meeting an author:

Grool…I meant to say cool and then I started to say great.” –Mean Girls

1. I do NOT expect you to recognize me without me introducing myself, even if you are the events planner, my biggest fan, my grandmother (okay, she should recognize me), or someone who’s done forensic analyze on my author photo (and if you have…creepy! or else you know something…).

People never look exactly like you expect from an author photo. I’ve gotten all kinds of comments mostly along the lines of…”oh, you’re much smaller than you look in your photo…” So, apparently I look strong and bad-ass in my picture and less than that in real life. I’m cool with that. So, don’t go home and brood over not recognizing your favorite author in person…it’s okay. I promise.

There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil things and those who see evil things and don’t try to stop it.” –Mean Girls

2. I do NOT expect you to have heard of my novel or know what it’s about. And guess what…I am usually VERY surprised when people have heard of me. For example, I saw YA author, Stephanie Perkins, in the bathroom during Romantic Times Teen Day this past April and I said hi and told her my name and she said…”Oh…Tempest, right?” and I nearly fainted. No lie.

And guess what else, if you haven’t heard of the author you meet’s novel(s) then they get to TELL you about their books and then possibly gain a new fan. Which, to be honest, isn’t possible if you’re already a fan. See? It’s a win/win situation. This may happen to you if you go to an event where there are multiple authors and maybe you are there for one or two of those authors and the other two or three you haven’t ever heard of…you might start to get a little nervous about having books signed because you don’t know at least one of the authors and you don’t have enough money/arm strength to buy their books, too, don’t even think about sneaking out the back or quickly google educating yourself (googicating?). There’s no need.

Feel free to walk right up to them (don’t interrupt the show or anything) and tell them, “I’d never heard of your book, but now I want to read it” or “I know my sister would love to read it” or “I’m going to recommend it to all my friends who like unicorns under water”…or whatever. I would be shocked if this didn’t please them very much.

Well, this has been sufficiently awkward…” –Mean Girls

3. You do NOT need to feel guilty about not buying an author’s book at an event. Authors know better than anyone that books are expensive…in fact, some of us tried to get paid in free books instead of money…some of us only started writing so that books and book conventions could be tax deductible. We get that people have e-readers, that hard cover novels are expensive (and heavy), we get that people use the library and borrow books (this is awesome!), and we do realize that every person will not be able to read every book ever made so yeah, we know you might not ever read our book(s). This is OKAY too.

In general, I live under the assumption that the majority of people will NEVER read my book so if you choose to read my book, I won’t be only satisfied or simply not upset, I’ll probably be ecstatic. Or at least I’ll use the word really or excited or even really excited.

My apologies. I have a nephew named Anfernee, and I know how mad he gets when I call him Anthony. Almost as mad as I get when I think about the fact that my sister named him Anfernee.” –Mean Girls

4. If you HAVE read an author’s book before meeting said author and you a) didn’t really like their book or maybe you gush to the author beside her/him that he/she has written your favorite book, do NOT feel bad. This isn’t little league baseball. Everyone doesn’t get to bat and everyone doesn’t get a trophy. We know that. When you write something that makes one person fall in love with a book you are 100% at risk to make another person hate your book. The best selling novels almost always have love/hate relationships with readers.

OR b) you read it, liked it, and suddenly you forget the main character’s name or the love interests name…don’t panic! Seriously. It’s an author’s job to remember those details and to make the readers remember them. It’s not your job to be ready for a book pop quiz prior to an author event. If you are, that’s cool, too. We will might even shed tears of joy upon learning how much you remember but we don’t EXPECT it. Trust me. We are writing for you. You are the customer. The customer is always right.

Why should Caesar get to stomp around like a giant, while the rest of us try not to get smushed under his big feet? What’s so great about Caesar? Hm? Brutus is just as cute as Caesar. Brutus is just as smart as Caesar. People totally like Brutus just as much as they like Caesar. And when did it become okay for one person to be the boss of everybody, huh? Because that’s not what Rome is about. We should totally just STAB Caesar!” –Mean Girls

5. If you meet an author you haven’t heard of before or you haven’t read their novel and the reaction does not follow along with what I have preached in this post…well, all I can say is everyone can turn life into high school and if that’s the case, it’s their loss, in my opinoin. I’m hoping this never happens amongst authors, but I know there’s always exceptions to every situation.

And guess what…authors screw up too…with other authors and man we should know everything, right? I mean it’s our job. For example, I failed to recognize Jay Asher the first (and only) time I met him in person. He was very forgiving.

Here’s the big secret: Authors are people too. We seriously are. I swear. 

So, who have you met and why did you love/hate this experience? Did you have an embarrassing moment with an author that you have been mopping about for months and months or like a day? 

Also! The contest to win a signed copy of TEMPEST and Signed ARC of VORTEX is still going on here


About the Author:


  1. Jess August 13, 2012 at 12:14 am - Reply

    I don't know what i like most about this post; the advice or Mean Girls references. I've felt all of these things at one point or another at author events.

    Do you have any suggestions for approaching an author at an event they are just attending ?

  2. Alba August 13, 2012 at 12:17 am - Reply

    I'm terrified of meeting an author…
    Because… I'm sure I'd just close up and start bawling right there and then…

    You all are my rockstars T______________________________T

  3. Dawn August 13, 2012 at 12:25 am - Reply

    Something else you need to add, IMO. When your fave authors (an any celebrity for that matter) is eating their meal…let them finish their meal before you gush all over them. It's rude to interupt anyone while they are eating.

  4. Julie Cross August 13, 2012 at 12:27 am - Reply

    Very good question, Jess! This depends on the situation…I know I said hi to Stephanie Perkins in the bathroom…but it was one of those big fancy bathrooms with like a couch and we were just putting on make up or something and it was like rude to not say hi…but usually, the bathroom isn't such a good place to approach an author…ditto for agents and editors, for the aspiring writers out there.

    If the author appears to be in deep conversation then hold off or if they have just taken a big bite of sandwich or hamburger or something then let them chew first. Otherwise, go up and say hi. carpe diem, right? Now or never. Says the introvert author who has the same fears…lol.

    But seriously, go for it. Just pay attention to signals that the author might be pressed for time or something and keep it brief unless he/she opens the door to chat longer. I'm the worst at telling people I have to go even if I'm going to miss my flight or something awful like that.

    But in general, the author will go home feeling even better because a fan approached them and said something nice.

  5. Julie Cross August 13, 2012 at 12:28 am - Reply

    So funny! I was just typing that in reply to Jess while you were commenting about the same thing. Very good point indeed!

  6. Julie Cross August 13, 2012 at 12:33 am - Reply

    I'm being very candid today so I'll tell you straight up, I'd probably do the deer-in-the-headlights look if a fan started bawling when approaching me, but that's just me. I get nervous about stuff like that mostly because I would be scared that I'll start crying and I avoid crying in front of people like the plague.

    I once signed next to Sherrilyn Kenyon and EVERYONE was crying when they approached her and I was like…holy crap what is going on! And she was like…oh, I love you too…go ahead and cry. Some people are so good at that.

    Anyway, I bet you will hold it together better than you think. Maybe focus on opening with humor…once I had a fan tweet to me that she had to pee the last 2 hours of reading Tempest but held it because she couldn't put the book down. I totally remembered that when she came to my event and introduced herself. It was awesome.

  7. Mimi August 13, 2012 at 12:43 am - Reply

    It´s so interesting and funny. I enjoy with it!

  8. Luisa Freiheit August 13, 2012 at 12:50 am - Reply

    I loved your advice. I always get nervous when I know I'll meet an author I like and its very hard to talk to them. I keep thinking "They must hear the same speech every single day" 😛

    I agree its not easy to recognize them, probably because we expect authors to act like big celebrities but they look so normal!

    And btw, I'm from Brazil so I dunno how it is over there, but where I live a lot of people know your book, I don't see how you can be so surprised people recognize it! =)

  9. Anonymous August 13, 2012 at 12:52 am - Reply

    I'm so glad you posted this because I LOVE going to author events and have met some very cool authors. But, I have attended an author event a couple years ago with several authors, but didn't know a couple of them there (that I don't want to name because I've since read their books and they're very talented!), so when I went through line without their books, I felt AWFUL. But, they were fantastic and signed bookmarks for me. The author next to them was Alyson Noel, who I love and was mainly there to meet, and gushed with her, she took a pic with me and was wonderful. Afterward, I again felt bad because I couldn't gush with the other 2 sitting next to her (and perhaps they didn't even notice, it was a big event). I'm hopefully going to a couple other multi-author events soon, and again, I'm not familiar with all the authors attending and cannot afford to buy everyone's books, so I'm sure I'll have that awkward, I'm-so-sorry feeling again. But this post sure helps with that.


  10. Julie Cross August 13, 2012 at 12:55 am - Reply

    You would be surprised how different everyone's feedback is. People have different favorite characters and different reasons why they love them and even if your speech is the same as 20 other people its still your speech and sometimes we just need to hear those same words a bunch of times before they sink in and we start believing them. That's how I am.

    And Tempest is big in Brazil?! Really?! I've been getting tweets and seeing facebook post but I haven't heard any real sales reports or numbers. Thanks so much for telling me!

  11. Julie Cross August 13, 2012 at 1:02 am - Reply

    The best thing authors can hope for is to have someone show up for Alyson Noel and leave having learned about Julie Cross (or insert other author name here). Don't ever feel bad about not knowing everyone or not buying all their books. Even if looks like everyone else is buying all the books, they aren't trust me. And you totally seem like an awesome YA fan and I'm sure every author out there would be thrilled to give out a signed bookmark or something to you. I know I would.

  12. Stacey T. Hunt August 13, 2012 at 1:57 am - Reply

    I liked this post! i can definitely relate to it, too.
    Once, I had these two young girls approach me (they were like eleven or twelve years old)and we were at this event at my highschool where the grade twelves were selling stuff to raise money for grad and stuff. They were so excited to see me there and were telling me how much they enjoy my book. It was really cute and made me feel so flattered inside, because I'm a new author and just starting out and no reader has done that to me before. I guess authors never forget the first time a fan approached them, or at least I wont:)

  13. Alexa August 13, 2012 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    I've actually been fortunate enough to meet a lot of authors, including you, and it's been a different experience each time.

    What I usually keep in mind is that as long as I'm sincere and genuinely interested in meeting them and finding out about their books, it's not a problem to not be able to purchase their books.

    Plus, most authors are fabulous and nice and eager to meet people who want to talk books!

  14. bhwrn1 August 13, 2012 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    Julie, I really love this post. It's so awesome. It says so much about authors and how they are feeling when they are meeting their fans!
    I have met lots of authors that I have not read their book. I love to talk to them about their books, get the insight and find out how great they probably are. Sometimes I hear stuff and buy them for a signing even though I haven't read them yet. I have a bunch from a YA Fest I just went to that I have yet to read. But I know they're gonna be awesome! I even found a book there that I wasn't planning on buying but after talking to the author, it sounded right up my ally!
    I love when authors are eager to give out information and talk with their fans! Makes us feel special!

  15. Roni Loren August 14, 2012 at 6:46 pm - Reply

    Love this. I'd add that half the time, authors (especially newer authors like us) are just as nervous as the people wanting to meet us. I'm always worried that I'm going to be lamer in person than someone anticipated–like oh she seems like she's cool online, but what a dork! 🙂 I had my first fangirl moment at RWA last month, a reader getting all like OMG and excited and I wanted to look behind me, like, wait, you're OMGing over ME? It was a pretty awesome feeling though.

  16. Amber at The Musings of ALMYBNENR August 15, 2012 at 12:53 am - Reply

    I completely agree with #1. This happened to me at BEA when I was waiting in line to see Caragh O'Brien and I started talking to two girls behind me. The one said she was a writer and I was like oh! What have you written? She said, The Goddess Test, and I was like OMG YOU'RE AIMEÉ CARTER! Once she said who she was, I recognized her but you're right, there is a huge difference between seeing a picture and seeing her in person.

    #2. I'm intrigued by unicorns underwater. Maybe that can be incorporated into book three somehow. 😉

  17. Andrea Jackson September 3, 2012 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Awesome post, Julie. I'm not a YA author, but my experiences with fans have been pretty much the same and I'd love to pass on the same info. (Maybe this is something event organizers should arrange?) And I relate to Roni's comment about how awkward most authors feel too. Meeting fans is amazing but meeting any readers is always a boost.

  18. larry bates November 18, 2017 at 7:33 am - Reply

    I’m nervous. I’m meeting my favorite authorbof all tine tomorrow and we are going to eat at Applebee’s. I think if I see her, I will automatically start bawling my, eyes out. Oh, BTW, I’m meeting Lynn McCain!

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