Flouncing and Venting: When Meeting an Author Goes Wrong

Anne Marble
5 min readJan 28, 2022

I love meeting authors at book signings. For readers, this is our equivalent of standing in line for autographs at Comic-Con. But sometimes, it can go wrong.

On a pink background, a fountain pen is shown to the left of a drawn heart. To the upper right of the heart is the cap of the fountain pen.
Photo by Ashley Piszek on Unsplash.

Here are some bits of advice that seem random but are connected.

· Don’t assume the worst of an author at an event.

· If you think you are being ignored at the event, say something.

· Avoid attacking the people running the event. Or the author.

· Don’t go public unless you are certain the author is in the wrong.

I learned all this from one incident. I didn’t experience it firsthand, but I got to watch as it “went down” in semi-public discussions.

A Brief History of Old Internet Stuff

Years ago, I ran a mailing list for romance readers. If you remember mailing lists like eGroups, congratulations. You are probably close to my age.

To further age myself… I used to moderate a romance reader list. Most of the members were other readers. Authors were also active on this list. Including some very popular authors. Members could get the discussions sent to their email inboxes or just read them online.

Before social media, romance readers often joined these lists to discuss their favorite books and authors. You had to be a member to see the posts, let alone interact with the other members. So posts were public to list members but private outside of the list. People were unlikely to copy someone’s “bad take” and share it outside the list. (What happens on the list stays on the list.)

Debates could get heated. There were fights, rude remarks, and yes, flame wars. (Let me count the ways.) But they weren’t like the social media wars of today because they stayed in one place.

Unless somebody sent their email to multiple lists because they really wanted to vent …

How It Went Down

One day, a member posted about a terrible time she had at a book signing where she’d hoped to meet a popular author. She’d been standing in line for a long time. The author was talking with readers in line ahead of the fan. They chatted for a long time, so this fan believed she was…

Anne Marble

I’m a writer and a copy editor with experience in editing science and engineering articles. Click Lists to find my most popular articles. And hidden gems.