Tuesday 5 March 2019

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Authors are People, Too

Authors are People, Too

There's something I want to discuss about author/reader in person interactions. On 18th February @flightofstarz tweeted asking people to share the best and worst authors they've met. Some people complained about authors who looked like they didn't want to be there, or who were miserable, and it needs to be addressed. A number of people on Twitter did address it, but I'd like to give my two pence, too.

If an author has said/done/written something problematic and harmful, then absolutely call them out. But because they didn't smile? Are you serious? Authors are human, ok? They're people. To be bitchy about authors who weren't cheery, happy, smiley people is disgusting, really. There are so many reasons why an author might not be as open and friendly as you like on that particular day. You have no idea what is going on with them in their lives outside of being an author, or doing that particular signing. Let's go through some of the possibilities shall we?
  • They may have anxiety / social anxiety / depression and they are finding this really difficult. But they are there are they are doing it, and that's brilliant.
  • They may be shy or an introvert, and they are feeling extremely awkward and uncomfortable right now.
  • They might be feeling ill and run down, and not doing so well.
  • They might be on a tour that has been going on for several days now, and they're feeling exhausted.
  • They might have children, who wake them up through the night. Perhaps they're ill. Maybe they're just really tired from looking after sick/awake-all-hours children.
  • They may have had some bad news and it's affecting their mood.
  • Perhaps there was someone in the queue before you who wasn't so nice.
Or any number of other reasons I can't think of right now. There's no magic button they can push and turn on the happy, ok? Authors are allowed to have an off day. Where is your empathy and your understanding? This attitude stinks. Yes, let's all go talk about authors who weren't the friendliest, and end up leading to other readers deciding not to bother with their books. Who are these conversations helping? It's just being bitchy for the sake of being bitchy, and it's not a good look. We're better than this.

But can I also just mention how this attitude isn't restricted to authors? People seem to think everyone they meet should be super cheery at all times. There was someone else demanding people in customer service smile at customers. I am a bookseller, and you know what? All of the above applies to those in customer service, too. And you have no idea some of the crap we have to put up with from some customers. We get effected by how we're treated, and it's not so easy to force a smile and cheeriness. How about we just stop policing people's smiles and expecting everyone to be genial. We're all people. Just let us be. Let authors be.

Over to you graphic

Let me know your thoughts on people criticising authors for not being all rainbows and sunshine. Please, let's show some solidarity for the authors who aren't having a great day when at signings.

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  1. ugh yes I saw that thread it honestly made me feel sick. If I had the courage to ever do something in public, I would be the author being talked about as looking bitchy and mad...because of social anxiety! And I know SO many authors have anxiety disorders. They're really open about it. Just because you're not a bubbly energetic extrovert, doesn't mean you hate people!? I know a ton of those authors too also do things because they want to please people. But stack on several hours of signing or doing talks or something (when what most authors like to do is write, which is a rather solo and quiet endeavour for the a lot of it) it would be so easy to be exhausted.

    And like you said, wow this goes for every single person you meet doing customer service or serving in any capacity. Another reason I was disappointed in that thread even happening was that we're BOOKWORMS. We live and breathe books and read about how people are complex and there's always "more to the story" than a 5 second glance at someone. Or "don't judge a book by its cover"!? Reading books is about living in someone else's shoes. It's kind of pointless to do this for characters but not for IRL people?!

  2. Yes to all of this! I didn't see this particular controversy on Twitter, but I would feel bad for any author who was put on the spot because they weren't "on" during an event. I do understand that a lot of times we build authors up in our minds and we want some sort of amazing interaction with them, but we have to be realistic and realize that authors are just human beings.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction