I once attended a lecture by a writer I admired and followed. He said he’d hang out afterwards, during the break. I bought his latest book and returned to have him sign it; I hoped we might talk a bit. He was gone. I waited. Nothing. Then I roamed the building but couldn’t find him. Undaunted, I figured I’d catch him after his next session, but he took off as soon as it was over. I regretted spending money on his book. Maybe I should have bought a book by someone who actually cared. I wasn’t such a fan of him after that.
Another time, while making small talk at a social event, I mentioned I was a writer. My new friend perked up. He pointed out another writer in the crowd. She’d just published her book. He gave me her name. At an appropriate time, I introduced myself and asked about her book. She recoiled and hissed. “Who told you?” I pointed to my source and told her he was really proud of her. She calmed down a bit, and I suggested we chat a bit afterwards. She nodded, but she disappeared before the program ended. She missed an opportunity to connect with a potential fan, and I missed the opportunity to network with another writer. Her book intrigued me, but I haven’t read it. Her reaction diminished my enthusiasm.
Yes, we all have bad days, make mistakes, come across negatively, and let people down. But fans and followers are precious to writers and we need to take care of every one of them.
Someday, I’ll be that writer with a book someone wants signed or have a fan who wants to chat. I’ll remember these situations and will strive to not repeat their mistakes.
Has a writer ever endeared him or herself to you? Has the opposite ever happened?
Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!