I've been thinking a lot about how easy it is to contact authors. When I was a kid, authors were these mysterious celebrities who wrote magical books-and if you were lucky, they would respond to your letter. I remember writing to two authors in elementary school-Roald Dahl (who was no longer living, which I did not realize, so the publisher wrote me back and sent a bunch of swag) and Avi, who wrote me a wonderful letter back that I still have and still means a lot to me.
I still feel very fangirly when I hear from or meet authors-even as an adult. They're still somewhat mysterious celebrities and I'm always amazed when they say they're excited to hear from me-I'm just a silly fangirl librarian!! Authors have a bigger presence in everyday life than they did when I was growing up-they're online, they comment back on their blogs, they Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail. So I've been thinking about how much interaction is too much and how do you deal with author let down?
Luckily this hasn't happened very often, but there have been a couple of instances when I've contacted or met authors after reading their blog, books, etc. only to be somewhat let down in the response. Maybe I caught them on a bad day but the responses I received were not what I was expecting from the online persona the authors had created. Please don't think that just because I'm a blogger and librarian, I expect glowing responses from everyone-I don't. I'm still shocked when they respond or recognize me! What disappointed me was that the online persona created by these authors was warm and friendly and welcoming, but the responses I received (either online or in person) were very short and brisk. I tried not to take it personally, but it did make me wonder if I could now look at their work objectively without putting their personality into my assessment of their books.
On the flip side, what do we do when we've been following an author's blog, commenting on their posts, Twittering, etc. only to read their book and not enjoy it?
Author Stephanie Burgis was blogging about writing to authors and the when's and how's of fan writing. I don't think it's wrong to be in contact with authors online, and in fact I think it adds to the fun of being a reader! But I do think we need to keep interactions short and not expect a response from everyone. And when we get a response that's not what we were hoping for, it's hard, but we need to remember why we wanted to contact the author in the first place and what made us a fan.
So how do you as a reader in contact with an author keep your opinions of the author and book separate? Is there too much social networking between fans and authors?
Also, check out Kristi from The Story Siren's post she did last year on author and blogger friendships. It's an interesting discussion and with more and more authors including many social networking platforms as part of their book buzz, I think it will continue to be discussed.