I was honored to be asked to present at the Southern California Library Cooperative's YA Workshop about connecting with YA authors through social media, interviewing, and podcasting.
Before I talk about that, I want to give major kudos to Erica Cuyugan of Santa Monica Public Library and Ryan Gan of Orange Public Library, who did a fantastic job organizing the workshop. They kicked things off with an awesome author panel that included Jennifer Bosworth, Ann Stampler, Lissa Price, Meadow Griffin, and Cecil Castellucci.
I loved hearing what these authors had to say about their writing processes, and was struck by how much they all expressed their love of libraries and willingness to partner with librarians to spread the joy of reading to kids and teens. Truly inspiring!
The author panel was followed by librarian presentations, and to prepare for my portion of the workshop, I created a brief survey distributed via social media channels, asking YA authors a simple question:
When a librarian wants to invite you to speak at their library, how do you prefer they first contact you?
My survey was in no way scientific-- it was casual and anonymous, and I honestly can't be sure of who really answered. It was intended as a quick way to gather a snapshot of data. In any case, I received 32 responses, and the results were as follows:
28 out of 32 authors who anonymously responded to the survey indicated that they prefer a direct email from librarians inquiring about potential library visits.
Survey respondents were able to choose more than one option. The second most popular option, with 7 responses, was to email the author's publicist. It's worth noting that the majority of respondents who chose this option also indicated they would welcome a direct email. Only two respondents chose an email to their publicist as their sole preferred communication method.
The other communication methods generally accompanied the direct email option, indicating that many authors welcome contact through Twitter and Facebook, etc., but social media is probably not the most effective way to initiate the conversation. Only one respondent chose Twitter as their sole preferred communication method.
The breakdown of responses for communication methods beyond email look like this:
In person at a conference: 3
In person at a book signing: 2
Blog comment: 1
My personal theory is that librarians should create a presence on social media and interact with their favorite authors. Don't hesitate! Get to know publishers and publicists. Create those connections. When it comes to an in-depth conversation that's going to require some thought and planning, email is the best way to go-- but I believe your email is more likely to get noticed if the author or publicist already has a positive connection with you due to your social media presence.
In addition to asking the question about communication preferences in my survey for authors, I asked them to elaborate on their answers, and include any other information that would be useful for librarians to know regarding the coordination of author visits. These questions were optional, but many of the respondents took time to provide very thoughtful information. Here are the authors' anonymous comments: