Welcome to this week’s post. I’m talking about whether you should (and can) reach out to another author. This is a complicated question, so it needs a little attention. Here are my dos and don’ts when it comes to seeing whether another author is open to your approach…
Authors can be a funny breed (both published and unpublished). We can be extremely anti-social or social. Or an anti-social social person (me!). We can be insular and hide ourselves away from the internet (if that’s you, thanks for sneaking out for a quick read!), or we can be internet extroverts. Whatever category you fall into, I’m sure there will be a point at which you at least consider reaching out to another writer.
Firstly, I want to remind you that writers and authors are just people. Whether they’re bestsellers, first timers, agented, mentors, well-known, or not…they’re still people. We all have our quirks and own personalities, too. So, the first thing to do when you think about reaching out to another writer is to consider what they are like as a person. You can’t do that just by reading their books. You should get to see what they’re like on social media. Do they interact on social media and seem chatty and open, or do they have few followers and closed lists? Do they participate in mentoring contests, or shun the contest scene?
Look into whether they’re doing author events, workshops, and signings, or if they’re the writer who stands back from the crowd. Try and see whether or not they blog or vlog. Do they seem confident and approachable? Or do they seem lovely, but not into socializing much?
Knowing all of these things can tell you whether or not they would be comfortable in being approached or not. Use your common sense. Also, don’t forget, some writers actively say to reach out as well (just in case you’ve not guessed, I’m in that group!).
Think about your reason for reaching out. Is it just to get something? If so, that’s not going to get you very far. Sure, a lot of authors really want to help each other, but they don’t want to feel used. They want to meet people, build their writing community, and engage with readers and new friends. What they don’t want is “hey, can you edit my book”, or “hey, so, I heard you’re giving away ARCs.” That’s not how this works. Be respectful. Be genuine. Do you really want to know that writer, or do you want to know them just because you can get something out of them to further your own career?
It’s incredibly common for aspiring writers to want to make connections so they can build their platform or gain insight and wisdom in the publishing industry. But those are personal gain goals. You should want to reach out because you want to know the other writer for reasons beyond that – do you have something in common? Did you love their blog post? Did their book resonate with you? Or do you simply live in the same town and would love to make a new writing buddy, since you feel a bit adrift on your own?
Okay, so you’ve discovered who might be approachable and have a secure, genuine reason for doing so. Now, you need to go about getting in touch. One of the easiest ways is by utilizing social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, vlogging, etc. are wonderful ways to build a relationship. You can start small, just getting involved a little, like you would when getting to know someone in real life.
If the writer you want to connect with isn’t on social media, but they have an email address, don’t be afraid to pop them a nice email. What’s the worst that can happen? They ignore it. You did your best. If it’s meant to be, then it’s meant to be.
Things not to do:
- Ask for something
- Only engage when it benefits you
- Be rude or aggressive in your approach
- Be nasty if the author declines to become friends
- Be pushy
- If an author engages with you and offers to help you – don’t take and run. It’s not nice for people to feel used.
As a #PitchWars mentor and long-term writer, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to connect with hundreds of other authors. A lot have become very close friends. Some just wanted something from me (critiques, free edits, books, etc.) and then didn’t bother being friends after they achieved their goal. That’s a sad thing. The writing world is a small one, and we remember who was our real friend, and who wasn’t.
So, in short: approach authors who appear open to it, do it in a slow way (such as social media), don’t jump in asking for things, and don’t disappear if you get some help just because you’ve achieved your goal.
I love making new writing friends, and I sincerely hope we’ll be friends, too!
Happy writing, YA Bookcasers, and happy reading!