By Jeff Salter
We have an interesting topic this week, one which presumably every serious writer has at least considered — what would be an ideal encounter with a fan of your writing?
How NOT to react
Well, let me begin with an example of how NOT to react to a fan. Have a look at the elevator scene from the movie, As Good As It Gets, in which Jack Nicholson is a famous-but-reclusive-and-antisocial author:
There are many such film scenes of egotistic (or socially-maladjusted… like Nicholson’s character) authors who basically spit in the faces of their fans. Some because they’re cruel and insensitive… and others because they cannot seem to graciously accept a compliment.
My goal for fan contact
Long ago, before I began writing long fiction and while I was co-authoring two non-fiction books for a royalty publisher (who specialized in titles for professional librarians), I decided – if I EVER attained any degree of “author” fame, or otherwise collected even a single fan or follower – I would be as gracious and considerate as a human could be.
I used as my model Walker Percy – the best-selling author from my hometown who had achieved awards and acclaim (both critical and popular) – and remained a gentleman throughout.
My experience so far
Perhaps it’s not a huge surprise that I have not found myself pestered by fans. Maybe that day will come, but more likely not. And that’s okay — it keeps me grounded. As long as royalty publishers are extending contracts to me and Amazon (and other places) sell my titles, I will be content to create the best stories I can… and take pleasure in those positive reviews from readers who truly seem to “get” my work.
All that said, I have recently encountered a sweet lady with whom I’d struck up an acquaintance. As we got to know each other a bit better, I gave her one of my business cards (which lists my published titles) and said little more about it — except perhaps to reply to any questions she had. Some time went by and we continued to chat when we were in the same place at the same time, but never discussed my books again.
Until one day when she told me she’d looked up my name, found my photo (I believe on my Amazon author page), and ordered one of my E-books. I thanked her for what she’d done and I expressed the hope she would enjoy that story. She had other remarks about her surprise to find a person she knew was also a published author. Her contact meant a great deal to me and I told her so. It was truly a heart-warming experience. I hope she’ll read more of my stories and will enjoy them enough to tell others.
A previous post about fan letters
About 22 months ago, I blogged about a similar theme: fan letters. Take a look:
What about you? If you’re an author, what type encounters have you had? What type would you want? If you’re a reader… have you ever approached an author you really love?
[JLS # 252]