On Approaching Authors for ‘Stuff’ – Part Deux

I think I’m going to have to add a few things to the post On Approaching Authors for ‘Stuff’.

1. When asking an author for stuff, don’t make it as part of a very obvious bulk email to a bunch of other authors. A scattergun technique is disrespectful and rude. You are basically spamming people – you may as well ask them for their account details so you can put $14 gazillion into their bank to help you smuggle money out of [enter war-torn nation here], and tell them you’ll share half with them. Yes, that will work.

2. If you’re going to ask an author for a blurb or review, etc, start with the authors you actually KNOW and who may be happy to do you a favour. How do you go about meeting authors? Go to cons and readings, writers festivals, awards nights, writing masterclasses, etc – anything that gets you in touch and networking with people. It’s better to ask someone you know – and your chances of success will be a hell of a lot higher.

3. Also, make sure your chosen author actually writes in the same genre as you.

4. Do not, repeat, do not put guilt-inducing little riders on your approach email/letter/carrier pigeon. Writers at all levels do a lot and donate a lot of time and energy (and in the case of someone like Neil Gaiman) money to help new writers get a start and to keep developing. Putting what is essentially a passive-aggressive demand on the end (or beginning or middle) of your request is not going to win you points and may well bite you in the arse later (or sooner) in your career.

5. Don’t assume that writers are sitting around, scratching their collective arses waiting for something to do. “Mmmmm, gee, that’s novel’s just writing itself – I wish someone would ask me to review their 4 volume steampunk, heroic, vampire, zombie fantasy.”

6. If all else fails, go to the bible for writers on how to connect and make your way in the writing world, Booklife by Jeff VanderMeer.

I do not write this to be unfriendly or unhelpful or mean, I write this to offer guidance to young players who are going to shoot themselves in the feet if they don’t learn the right paths of approach pretty quickly. And I also get very tired of getting requests and then getting abused when I don’t do what’s demanded, but have the temerity to offer advice instead.

So, I guess #7 must be: don’t abuse someone who says ‘No’.

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