Ever since the invention of social media, it has never been easier to connect with an author of a book you love. Sending a tweet, a private message, tagging them in a post, or just simply sending fan mail or meeting them at a fan convention to tell them how much you love their book can mean a lot to them.
There’s a small bookshop chain called Anderson’s that every year puts on a Young Adult Literature Conference where new, old, and popular Young Adult authors come and give speeches, talk at panels, and one author sits at each table setup. This event that I go to takes away the screen that constantly sits between reader and author.
Even though I am not in the demographic of Young Adult books anymore, I still went to the event this year—my fourth in a row. While most attendees are teachers and librarians trying to figure out the newest and hottest books in YA and working on getting a requirement for their job out of the way, you will find the occasional fan, book blogger and/or BookTuber (a YouTuber who talks about books).
This event is one of the things I look forward to most in the year. It started with me seeing the author of one of my favorite book series to coming every year even if I don’t know who most of the authors are.
Nothing changes from year to year. It’s a whole day which spans from a continental breakfast to speeches, panels that happen all day, what’s new in YA, lunch, and finally book signings from the authors. This is not only a chance for somebody to get to tell their favorite author how hard a main character hit home, but also how much you loved and laughed at the book, and much more. This event, and other conventions around the world, make the reader and author relationship a more personal one.
Even though social media can be helpful in connecting with an author and other fans like you, there’s nothing better than a face-to-face conversation. This year I introduced myself as a Booktuber instead of just a fan and suddenly got more of a response; and a million questions and praise about how authors find it hard to even put together a book trailer, while we can make and edit a 10-minute video and make it look easy.
This year, I was also more inclined to ask the author at my table questions about certain things in the book I’m currently writing. I could tweet an author a question online, but there’s no guarantee I would get an answer to my questions, much less the long and thought-provoking answers that may have made me question the choices I had made in my book when I received those answers.
Last year, I let my guard down to authors about certain areas of my life that they had incorporated into their books. I hadn’t even read their books yet, but just the fact that characters in their books and I shared a certain aspect of my life made me want to buy them. When I told one author that the reason I bought his book was because of this, he told me that the character with whom I shared my life’s aspect with was for me. The other author and I shared the fact that we had had that same aspect in our lives, but it was different—I teared up on both. And while typing my feelings online and tagging the authors, about how much their books had already impacted my life, would make them happy… social media aside, I was able to be vulnerable with these two authors I didn’t know. Although that message would be online for them to read (or not read if it got lost with the many other messages they get everyday), the conversation was more meaningful because they saw me basically break down from how hard that certain topic hit me.
This event and other conventions such as Comic Con, YALLWest, YALLFest, BookCon and other conventions remove the screen from our lives and show us what a real, and better, interaction with authors we could have. While social media is a great tool for friends and family, maybe not for people whom you look up to and admire; those are probably better left for the panels at conventions or conferences in your life.