Conferences are in full swing and festival season is just around the corner! Like many other authors I know, I am excited to get out and meet the wonderful people who read my books! Authors spend their lives stuck to their computers. They have no idea if anyone is ever going to read their work, let alone like it.
But here are a few things Pagan authors REALLY wish you wouldn’t do:
Tell them you’re buying their book on Amazon because it’s cheaper.
Hey, we know you’re going to do it. We get it. Money can be tight. Yes, most books are cheaper on Amazon. Maybe you’ve got an Amazon gift card you want to use. I’ve purchased plenty of titles on Amazon written by author friends because it wasn’t feasible or possible to buy it from them in person. But at many Pagan events, most authors are breaking even–even if they sell out of their books! We have to purchase them before we sell them and if there’s travel involved, selling books gets expensive. Your buying from Amazon may be fully reasonable, but it stings to hear that you would rather save four dollars by buying from a mega-corporation. If you need to buy the book on Amazon, a little fib like: “I’m adding it to my wish-list because my birthday is coming up” is totally fine. It may not be honest, but it shows you care about our feelings.
Again, we’re happy you want to buy our book, no matter where you get it. Just don’t announce that you’re choosing to support Amazon instead of us, directly.
And definitely don’t buy the book on Amazon via your phone while you’re standing in front of the author’s booth.
Monopolize their time while others are waiting to talk to them or if they’re trying to wrap up and get out.
After a workshop, there’s always a group of people who want a 1:1 conversation with the author. Many authors expect it and even look forward to it. But please be mindful of how much time you’re taking. Are there other people waiting? Is there another workshop immediately afterward? The author likely wants to give some time to everyone waiting and be out of the meeting space before the next instructor comes in. The author might feel awkward cutting you off, so please self-regulate!
If you’ve got a lot to say, consider sending the author an email. They’ll also likely have more time to give you a thoughtful response when there aren’t trying to talk to lots of people, and get their things out of the meeting space.
Ask them to quote a source while they’re doing 1,000 other things
At a Pagan Pride just after my Morrigan book came out, I finished my talk and then sold books to attendees. I was focused on trying to handle sales, sign books, answer 1:1 questions and hear 1:1 stories, while also being mindful that the next speaker would be coming into the space, soon. Also, my blood sugar was crashing and I was freezing because it was pouring rain. While in the midst of counting change to a customer, an attendee walked up and asked me to cite a source for an obscure reference during my talk. Because I was doing 1,000 things, I said, “I’d have to look that up. I can’t remember the exact source right now.” He could have raised his hand and asked during the class. He could have emailed me, later. Instead, he rolled his eyes and walked away. The rest of the day, I wondered if he was going to tell everyone at the event that I didn’t know my shit.
If you have a question about a source, ask during the talk or email the author, later. Or better yet, buy the book and read the citations and bibliography. Just please don’t give us pop quizzes while we’re torn in several directions. You won’t get your best answer then, anyway!
Handle their books roughly…and then not buy them.
At another Pagan Pride event, a friendly, well-meaning young person came up to my booth and rough-handled one of my books. She flipped through each page, curling the cover and creasing the spine. Then, she plopped it back on the bookstand and said, “Sorry! Don’t have any money. But it looks like a great book!” That book went to the event’s giveaway table because I could no longer sell it.
It’s perfectly fine, even expected, that you would want to look at a book before buying it. Most authors are happy for you to look. Just be gentle with their books, especially if you aren’t going to buy them. If you curl a book’s cover, crease the spine, or dirty the pages, the author cannot sell it. Remember: they had to buy the book, first. Many authors don’t want to tell you to be gentle with their books, so please don’t put us in that position!
Take pictures of their material…but not buy the book.
At one of my workshops, I invited a pregnant participant to take a picture of one of my Powerpoint slides because it contained a birth mantra. I then went on to lead a meditation on a different topic. Perhaps thinking my offer to one person meant open-permissions granted to all, after the class a different participant flipped open my personal copy of my book and asked if she could take a picture of the meditation I’d just read. She looked surprised when I told her I’d rather she buy the book.
Authors don’t mind giving things away for free sometimes. But just because they gave away one item, it doesn’t mean all items are up for grabs. We spend years researching and writing this stuff. Please don’t beg for free stuff.
Turn the Q&A into a 2 person discourse
We all know that person. They raise their hand, they ask their question. The author answers, and then the person jumps right back in with either another question or their thoughts on the matter. When the author tries to steer the conversation to someone else, that person tries to insert their question/thought/etc. right back in.
Don’t be that Witch. Give other people a chance to ask their questions, too.
Not thanking them for a response
I get many emails from people with tricky questions or intense experiences they’d like to share. Others are looking for a little help. Once I even sent several lessons I gave my Coven to a woman who was trying to start her own. I never heard from her again. Most people respond with a kind word of thanks, but some don’t. Most authors work a full-time job or multiple jobs on top of writing. Their families and loved ones already have to share them, extensively, with their books. Yet, the author is giving you a bit of time, too. If an author gives you a thoughtful response, a fair courtesy is to thank them.
We don’t need seven screens worth of accolades. A short note that says, “Thank you so much!” will suffice.