Is that crazy? Probably. But we've all done it, so I am totally cool with admitting my crazy. Plus it makes me all eccentric and writer-like.
Lately I've been trying to decide who I'd want to model my authorly behavior after, and it only took me about two seconds before I decided: Megan McCafferty.
Megan McCafferty is the author of the fabulous Jessica Darling series, and her next book, Bumped, is being written right now (I am so excited about the premise I can't stand it! It's future dystopian, in that only teenagers can get pregnant, but get this: it's funny! Future dystopia is one of my favorite topics to explore, but they're always such serious, depressing books with moral lessons. Maybe that's why I like them, but I can't wait to see how she handles it.)
Although I think McCafferty is a talented writer who captures teen drama with painful accuracy, and I definitely love how she's been able to touch the hearts of so many teens, young adults, and adults, that's not the reason I'm writing this post. Because if I'm telling the truth, I'd rather steal the masterful storytelling abilities of, say, J.K. Rowling. But I do think McCafferty excels tremendously at reaching out to her fans. She is one of the most accessible authors I know. You can friend her on Facebook (or just become a fan), follow her on Twitter, or read her blog (although that definitely isn't updated as much anymore, there are some very cool old entries from her journal).
You can also email her, which I did when I was first reading the Jessica Darling books. You see, Megan McCafferty and I have something in common (aside from the fact that we're both writers). We both went to the University of Richmond (we even both wrote for the school paper!), and we were both pretty miserable there. Although my teachers were awesome, the student body as a whole pretty much sucks. Everyone is totally full of themselves, stuck-up, and looks matter so much it makes you want to throw yourself into the lake. She only spent the first two years there, then transferred, while I braved the full four years with a small group of friends who got me through.
UR has some crazy traditions, like Proclamation Night, where all the Freshmen women wear white (although my first year they told us we were encouraged to wear "clothes that reflected our ethnic background," which is hilarious since the school is like 99% white. So you want us to wear...white? Got it.) and carry candles around campus or something. I'm not really sure what goes on, because I didn't go my freshman year (my mom died, so I went home), and I skipped it my senior year since I hadn't gone my freshman year and didn't really give a crap about it.
Well, in two of her books, McCafferty references events that could only be describing UR happenings. After a little digging, I discovered our shared alma mater, and shot her an email, assuming she wouldn't reply, and might not even read it. And she wrote back! Within three hours! And not just a lame, "thanks for being a fan" email, but an awesome, thoughtful response that really meant something. Do you have any idea how incredible this made me feel? (I'll gladly pull out the dancing banana again if you're not sure.)
To make things even more amazing, lately she's been giving away books like crazy. On Twitter and Facebook, several times a week she's been holding semi-spontaneous giveaways and just mailing signed books to people. Awesome! (I did finally manage to get one, thanks to a senryu I wrote about UR...hehe.) I know people who've written to her or attended her signings, and their stories are the same: she's personable, funny, witty, honest, and charming. When my online book club did a poll which included naming five authors who you'd like to invite to dinner, she appeared on the list more than once.
My point is, when authors make a connection with their readers, it doesn't just boost sales (although that definitely helps; it's safe to say I will read pretty much anything Megan McCafferty writes, ever). It also makes the fan feel special. If you're a YA writer, that becomes even more important. Young adults are at a difficult time in their life. Avid readers see their favorite writers as celebrities. Who wouldn't love to hear from a huge celebrity?
When I become rich and famous, I vow to make the same effort to be accessible that Megan McCafferty has. College talks, random giveaways, and answering fan mail is all in the cards. Without readers, we wouldn't be able to survive. Truthfully, we need them more than they need us, so we should show them the same love right back.
Edit: Did you need further proof that Megan McCafferty was awesome??? She read this blog (I have no idea how she got the link), then tweeted me about it. Yeah, she pretty much rules.