Well the convention season has well and truly begun, and I've decided to jot down some advice for all of you rabid fans who will flock to events like Supanova this year. We all get a bit star struck at times when we see our favourite authors up close and personal... or interact with them online... but there is a right way... and a very wrong way of going about it.
So here goes... the Smash Dragons guide for all those nice but socially awkward fans out there! You can thank me later... with beer... and cookies... ok?
First up... Convention advice.
- Do.. always warmly say hello to your favourite authors when you see them at a convention. Don't... run up, invade their personal space, and pant heavily as you take in their awesomeness. Touching their clothes and hair is also not advised. I shit you not I have seen people tug on the beards of male writers before. IT'S NOT FUNNY, OR COOL... GOT IT!?!
- Do.. bring a small gift for a writer if they are ok with that sort of thing (newsflash people... it can be uncomfortable for some). Don't build a shrine before them with your sack of gifts. It probably will get uncomfortable if you do.
- Do.. respect the fact that they too like to wander around and be fans themselves. Give them the space and opportunity to do so. Don't.. obtain rope, and tie yourself to your favourite author. They might take offence to it, and I suspect security will magically appear if you do. Above all else don't follow them into the toilet. Alan Baxter told me this happened to him at a con... honestly people... who does that?!
- Do.. get a photo with your favourite author if it is an appropriate time and place to do so. Use the grey matter known as your brain when deciding this. When they are eating, chatting to others, or with their family are all not appropriate times. Don't.. demand a selfie, photobomb them, or take pictures without their permission. I cannot emphasise that last point enough. Ask nicely for a photo... if they say yes, great! If they say no, respect that!
- Do.. actually talk to them when you meet them. I know it can be hard, but they don't bite. They actually love to hear from their fans, and it warms their hearts to see people enjoying their writing. Don't... stand before them and just stare deeply into their eyes. It's creepy. And uncomfortable. And again security will magically appear and escort you gently (roughly) away.
- Do.. tell them what you loved about their work. Don't... offer an existentialist critique of it. They will lose the will to live hearing it. In fact I'm losing the will to live just thinking about it.
- Do.. be considerate of everyone else who is there to see your favourite author. You ARE NOT their number one fan. There is no such thing. Only fans. Be polite and considerate, especially with kids around. Don't.. shove your way to the front of a line or onto a stage, scream 'WITNESS ME!!', and plonk your books down to be signed. The author has every right to kindly (angrily) tell you to fuck off if you do.
- Do.. acknowledge them if you see them strolling around the convention. A smile and simple greeting will suffice. Don't... giggle and snicker hysterically whilst you hide behind a stall watching them as they walk by. They WILL see you... and they WILL note what you look like for future reference when dealing with you.
- Do.. offer to buy them a drink at the bar if it is something you both have spoken about on social media before. Don't.. expect this transaction to immediately transform you into their best friend. You ARE NOT their best friend. You are the incredibly nice fan who just bought your favourite author (or blogger... hint hint) a drink from the top shelf. Enjoy your drink with them, and move on.
- Do.. listen to and observe your favourite author. They are people... and have feelings. If they indicate verbally, or through body language, that they are uncomfortable with a situation then back off. Don't... ignore the feeble protests of your favourite author as they disappear amidst a swarm of fans. Seriously people... use your noggin! How would you feel if a mob surrounded you?
- Finally do.. buy their books and support their hard endeavour to actually make a living out of something they love. Don't.. loudly proclaim how you outsmarted the 'man' by pirating their work. Seriously, I saw this happen at a convention a couple of years back, and it really isn't cool.
Social Media Advice
- Do.. contact your favourite authors on social media and tell them how much you loved their work. Don't.. sit in front of a computer screen or stare at your phone sobbing when they don't immediately respond. They are very busy you know.. with this thing called a life!
- Do.. interact in a friendly and nice manner if/when they do respond. Don't.. send them abusive, controversial, or just plain stupid messages or tweets. And no, they really don't need to know what you just ate for dinner.
- Do.. compliment and engage with them. Talk about books, reading, writing. Things you actually share in common. Don't... try to be too familiar and jovial with them from the start. I will be honest, I have done this before (and I still do at times, much to my embarrassment). They don't know you, and you really don't know them. Meet them in person at a convention or event and see if you hit it off first before you claim them as a friend for life!
- Do.. share, link, retweet and promote their work. Word of mouth is important, and shit, your post/tweet/link might mean a few extra sales or interest for your favourite author. Don't.. expect them to personally thank you for every single effort you make to support their work. Most will try, but they are usually very busy. Again, life people.
- Finally do.. use social media to get to know your favourite authors and keep up to date on their work. Don't.. use social media to establish where they live, work, and socialise so you can find them or steal their yet to be released book. Your not being a dedicated fan. Your being a stalker and a thief. Enjoy your stay at a correctional facility if you do this.
I hope this helps peeps!