There’s no question that we, as readers, would love nothing more than to meet the authors we read and love. But did you know that your favorite author wants to connect with you, too?
Years ago, author Allison Trowbridge (Twenty-Two) received a message from a reader: “I’m in London! Can I meet you?” Trowbridge agreed, but had no idea how much the experience would end up affecting her. “The opportunity to connect and see firsthand the impact my book had in even just one young woman’s life made all the struggles of writing and launching the book worth it,“ Trowbridge told me. “I was burned out and exhausted walking in, but I left that interaction realizing I would be writing books for the rest of my life.”
Author Alex Temblador (Secrets of the Casa Rosada, Half Outlaw now available for pre-order) had a similar experience when she met a 17-year-old girl whose favorite book was Temblador’s first novel, Secrets of the Casa Rosada — the story of a 16-year-old girl who moves to Laredo, Texas, to live with her Abuela who she never even knew existed. “She said it made her feel so seen and understood in a way that no other book had,” Temblador told me. In fact, it was the very first book this high school student ever owned. “It was a beautiful experience and one that I will never forget,” Temblador said about not only meeting the teenager, but also her family. “I realized that my book was meaningful to this girl in so many ways that went well beyond the story I told.”
I talked to Temblador and Trowbridge — who is also the founder and CEO of Copper, a new app that brings authors and readers together — about why interacting with readers is as just as meaningful to authors as it is to readers.
Authors Want to Know How Their Work Affects You
When you read a story that really speaks to you, it can feel a lot like you know the writer, which is probably just how they want you to feel. That said, it’s a good possibility that in addition to reaching you through their writing, your favorite author wants to connect with you in a more personal way. “There’s an incredible amount of work that goes into getting a book written and out into the world, and once it’s there,” Trowbridge told me, “authors often have no idea what type of impact their words are having on readers.” Trowbridge’s nonfiction title, Twenty-Two, is presented as a collection of letters written to any young woman out there who is grappling with the difficult questions that arise with adulthood. “It’s the book I wished I’d had during that season in my own life, but didn’t,” she said. “So to connect with my readers who are going through all of those highs and lows that I experienced too, and get to help them to feel a little less alone? A little more hopeful? That’s the good stuff.”
In Temblador’s case, not only did her YA novel, Secrets of the Casa Rosada help a high school student feel seen, but a short story she recently published — one that she told me “discusses the cultural barriers in medicine in an almost satirical way” — prompted a professional therapist to reach out to her and ask if he could incorporate the story into his training of therapists who work with Latine immigrants. “I couldn’t believe that my work was actually going to be used in a way that bettered the lives of Latines in a tangible way,” Temblador said, adding that any positive feedback from readers is the boost authors need to keep writing. She’s interested in even the smallest insights. “I love how readers pick up on things that you intended to write in your books and then point out other things that you did unconsciously.”
“Of course, you hope that your writing alone will make a difference for others,” Trowbridge said, “but it’s an entirely different experience to actually receive direct feedback from a reader, hear how your story resonates with someone else’s, and really get to connect on a human level with someone who has made the investment to read what you’ve written.”
Meeting You Makes the Solitary Practice of Writing Worth It
Both Temblador and Trowbridge agree that writing a book is a solitary experience — “[it] can be quite isolating,” Trowbridge told me. Temblador added, “connecting with readers can make it a little less lonely. These are people who want to talk about my work, the thing that I’m most passionate about — why wouldn’t I want to chat with them about it?” Temblador enjoys offering insight to aspiring writers, too.
“There’s so much more encouragement and fulfillment that comes from direct connection with your readers,” Trowbridge told me. In fact, one of the primary purposes of her app, Copper, is to help authors “build genuine depth and connection with readers.”
Connecting With You Helps Authors’ Careers
There’s also a very practical reason your favorite author wants to connect with you: it helps them professionally in every stage of publication.
“Every author I’ve talked to, whether a first-timer or multi-bestseller,” Trowbridge said, “has expressed frustration with the launch process and lack of genuine connection with readers.” Why does this matter? For one thing, it helps them establish and grow their author platform, which the New York Book Editors blog defines as the ability authors have to reach people who may buy their book. The bigger an author’s platform is, the less risk a publisher takes in offering them a deal.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that publishers like authors who are willing to participate in events and connect with readers,” Temblador told me, “because it is a marketing tool that can have positive results for both author and publisher.” For example, readers are probably more likely to buy the books of writers they’ve actually met. Not only does this help authors earn more royalties, but good book sales along with author platforms are both factors publishers consider when offering an author more book deals.
All of this affects us, too. The more successful an author is, the more they’ll be able to keep writing and publishing the work that we love.
How You Can Connect With Your Favorite Authors
In-Person and Virtual Events
“My favorite way to connect with readers is at in-person events like conferences, readings, and festivals,” Temblador revealed to me. “The ability to see a reader in person and hear how excited they are about your work or ask questions is a feeling that is so hard to describe.” Most authors are happy to meet and talk to you at literary festivals, book launches, writing conferences, author readings, and more. You can find many of these events through local bookstores, universities, and libraries.
If your favorite authors don’t live in your town, look for virtual readings, literary panels, discussions, and festivals. Temblador told me she’s connected with many readers through virtual events.
Social Media, Email, and Apps
“For the most part,” Temblador told me, “readers find me on Instagram and Twitter, and on occasion, they’ve emailed me.” Many authors are active on social media and often engage with readers through their posts. If you’d rather reach out to them in a more direct way, try sending them direct messages or emailing them through their websites.
If you want to find a lot of authors all in one place, consider Trowbridge’s app, Copper, which is designed to be a social experience around books. “Before Copper,” she told me, “there’s been no great way to actually discuss a book with the author. [M]aybe you were fortunate enough to attend a book signing and got 30 seconds of face time, maybe you left a comment on one of their Instagram posts. [B]ut there hasn’t been anywhere to dive in and go deep.” When you set up an account on Copper, you can search for and follow authors and other readers, join in discussions, and attend events. When I asked Trowbridge which Copper feature she thought readers would be most excited about, she told me it was the “Discussions” capability, which allows readers to connect directly with authors. “A reader can start a Discussions thread about a book — from general praise to asking a super specific question and everything in between — and the author can jump into that thread.” Copper offers readers more opportunities to engage with authors through the app’s live events.
It was clear to me that both Temblador and Trowbridge hold their interactions with readers close to their hearts — so much so that Trowbridge even created an app around it. If you’re still unsure about why your favorite author wants to connect with you, Temblador sums it up this way: “There are a billion books that readers can choose from — so when a reader chooses to read my books, I feel especially honored, and I want to show my gratitude by sharing what I can. Whether that means answering questions about the book or explaining my writing process, I’m happy to do so. I see connecting with readers as one of the best perks of being an author.”
However you decide to reach out to authors, if you do it in a way that’s genuine and respectful, you’ll be creating memorable moments not only for you, but also for the writers who bring you the books you love.