Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The kind of author I want to be

As I've eased into the beginning of my debut year as an author, I've spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of author I want to be--and I don't mean what kinds of books I want to write, or how many books I hope to sell. Of course those things are on my mind, but really... what feels more important is ME. How do I want to act? How do I want to be?

Being published is a strange, super-limited kind of fame where only a very specific group of people have any idea who you are (which is what I love about it). But within that small community you are still a "public figure." And while I can only be myself, I also have to take into account that everything I say and do will be weighed, measured, and used to shape people's opinion of me, whether they be 'peers' or 'fans'.

So I've thought a lot about the authors I look up to--not just for their talent but also the things they say and do. They're all different people, and they all do things their own way, but at the heart of it, what makes me admire them is their kindness. They care. About their readers. About other writers. And they do what they can to show that they care whenever possible.

That doesn't mean they give free swag or books to everyone who asks, or  follow everyone back on Twitter or Facebook, or respond to every single email or blog comment, or critique everyone's pages, or become best friends with every person they meet. I'm sure they wish they could--but that just isn't possible. So they do the best they can.

Which is the goal I've set for myself this year. To do the best I can.

It's a humble goal, I realize--but in no way does it mean I'm going to give myself permission to neglect my responsibilities. It means I'm going to do whatever I can, whenever I can, as much as I can.

I KNOW I won't be perfect. And there's a chance I might even let some of you down. But I promise I'm going to try my best to not let that happen. Here's hoping I succeed.

Which makes me wonder: what traits do you admire in an author, besides just writing great books?


  1. I admire authors who are really fun, like Lisa Yee and Maureen Johnson. I also admire the ones who use their powers for good, like John Green, who got a whole bunch of fan to make loans on Kiva. Enjoy your year--I'll add KLC to my list of books to look for!

  2. That's the best goal to have. I admire authors who are down to earth, humble and approachable. I've met several authors who were intimidating, and that's a big turn off to me.

  3. That's a beautiful goal, Shannon. I admire authors who do care about readers and writers, who want to make a difference. I especially like those that are approachable. True, they don't have to become besties or anything, but it'd be nice to feel like you weren't bothering them or wasting their time.

  4. Lovely post, Shannon!

    I admire authors that have a sense of humor but are still professional and well-spoken. Approachable helps too. And online in general I like to "follow" people that curate great content -- content they write themselves, links that they share, videos/music they discover, etc. etc.

    But above all, when it comes to authors, I just want to love their books. If find an author online after reading their novel, and discover their personality is as awesome as their book, that is just icing on the cake. :)

  5. You're already doing an amazing job, Shannon!

  6. That's all you can do. And you're already doing an excellent job.

    I admire authors who are accessible--not to promote their work but those who seek to help others who are on the road that author has already traveled.

  7. I love authors who are open and encouraging to their fans, who respond to them and really listen to what they've said. I've had authors not respond to a fan-letter, or respond rudely and it really turns me off their work. Authors who take the time to be genuine, even in just a few lines are who i'll gravitate toward later.

  8. I think you nailed it, #1. The other night on twitter, I had a conversation with Kathleen Duey--she actually asked ME how my writing was going! I swear to you I almost died. To think that someone like Kathleen Duey would even care about an unpublished nobody like me, be willing to take time to inquire about my writing and to encourage me, blew me away. When James Dashner popped onto my blog to comment on a review and say kind things; when people I admire take time to grant wishes when they don't have to, just because that's who they are...those are things that make me tear up and pledge my forever love to an author. It's the little things, things authors do because they care about readers. :)

  9. That's an awesome goal. All anyone really can do is their best.

  10. When I find a book I really connect to, I often look up the writers blog and find myself wanting to be friends. That's the kind of author I want to be.

  11. I'm with you. I want to be an author who cares, who's involved with the reading/writing community, and who uses her powers for good. (If I get powers, that is.)

    You summed it up, I think. I want to be kind.

  12. This is the best goal I've read this year. To just do the best you can with what you've got. And being YOU while being a published author is the best thing you can be! When I meet an author, I like to know that he/she is the person I "see" online or in their writing. It's refreshing to meet people who are brave enough to be real.


  13. Let's see...probably the same ones I admire in everyone. A sense of humor, kindness, and a feeling of gratitude for their success that makes them want to give back to others.

    I think this describes you You're not going to let anyone down.

  14. Aren't you lovely!!??

    Oh I'm too awe struck to want anything else of my favourite authors! I don't want them to die and I want them to continue entertaining me! :-)

    Take care

  15. If you're doing the best you can, that's all anyone could ask for. :)

    I admire authors that are genuine and who are gracious and humble.

  16. I definitely love authors who are approachable to their fans and really seem like "real people" lol (Cindy Pon and Terry Lynn Johnson do great jobs with this).

    This is a wonderful post!!

  17. I think that's a terrific goal, Shannon. My favorite authors are the ones who are approachable, and I think you've already mastered that. :)

  18. That is so lovely. I can't ever imagine you doing a major faux pas online which is more than I can say for myself lol. Let's hope the fear of it will lead us away from it.

  19. I think it's a good goal to have. It doesn't have to be uber specific to make a difference in your year. I find that I follow authors more closely when they behave like real (but nice) people instead of being only about promo-ing their book. Yes, I expect promoting, but I do love reading blog posts about their thoughts on daily life. Some writers show a different side than what they write. Some are too funny not to be writing funny books!
    - Jessica @ Book Sake

  20. I admire the thickness of author's beards, but that doesn't apply to you at all, so maybe you should do something crazy with your hair. :) Still super excited for you!

  21. Yes, you asked this years ago- but I'm going to answer anyway.

    I admire someone who stops for each fan and gives them a moment of their time. A moment where that fan feels like they are the most important person in the world. Because that is a wonderful feeling.

    I also admire an author who will put up with random attacks of fangirling. And who takes it all in stride. Because sometimes I have little panic-attack flailing things when I meet my favorite authors. And the ones who just smile and offer you a hug and offer to sign your book and even- I dare say it- thank you for being a fan are some of the best in the world.

    Just what I think. :)


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