Meeting your favorite author is intimidating. You want to express your appreciation of their work without sounding like a total fangirl, but you also kind of want to come off as the kind of person they might hit up for coffee someday. Or like, if they had to hire an assistant someday, maybe it could be you. But the moment happens so quickly, that sometimes these things come out of our mouths before we’ve had a chance to really process them. Therefore, I have compiled a handy guide of what not to say when you meet them, tailored to a variety of situations.
When you meet your favorite comedy author at his stand-up comedy show, don’t say: “The crowd was a little bit quiet tonight, which is cool, because it felt really intimate.”
When you meet your favorite author at a book signing that no one showed up for, don’t say: “This is basically my dream because it felt like a private conversation! Do you mind if I just ask you a couple more questions?”
When you meet your favorite author at a book signing that everyone showed up for, don’t say: “I brought every copy of every one of your books that I’ve ever bought for every person in my entire family. Do you mind signing? Thank you! Okay the first one is for my Aunt Jean. Please write ‘Dear Aunt Jean: Thank you for reading my books and for being a true fan. From one biscuit lover to another and with lots of love, Author Name.’ Just a quick 23 more!”
When you meet your favorite author on the street, don’t say: “Oh my god I would recognize you anywhere, your nose is unmistakable! Love your jacket photo by the way.”
When you meet your favorite author in a coffee shop, don’t say: “This is so wild, I can’t believe we come to the same coffee shop. Do you mind if I join you for just a minute? I can see that you’re doing work, but I’m an aspiring writer too, and I also have my laptop and if you could just take five minutes to read the first few or first hundred pages of my memoir, I would literally die of happiness. Oh, now is not a good time? What time will you be in tomorrow?”
When you meet your favorite author on the first day of your MFA program, don’t say: “Wow, I can’t believe you’re still teaching! I mean, you must make plenty of money from your book sales.”
When you meet your favorite author at a literary festival, don’t say: “It’s really hot out here, I hope you’re getting paid for this!”
When you meet your favorite author, don’t say: “I really love your books, but do you know yet when the next one is coming out? We’ve been anxiously waiting for years! Do you ever get nervous that you’re getting up there in years?”
When you meet your favorite author at the premiere of their book’s film adaptation, don’t say: “Obviously I always prefer the book anyway, but this film interpretation was just embarrassing. Wait, who was the screenwriter?”
When you meet your favorite author at a restaurant, don’t say: “Oh you got the eggplant parmesan too? Twins! But, I couldn’t come even close to finishing mine—it was so massive! I’m impressed.”
When you meet your favorite author at the independent bookstore they own, don’t say: “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you actually own this shop! I walk by here everyday but I’ve never come in because I buy all of my books online! Can I take picture with you?”
These feel obvious outside of that moment, but it’s worth being prepared.