Approaching authors (or at least this one)
Recently, a friend asked me about the best way to approach authors to request things like interviews and guest posts. Obviously I can't speak for all authors and tell you what everyone prefers, but I know what works for me.
I give to you...a list:
If we have a connection but we don't talk often (therefore you're not sure I'll remember you), I'd like to know about it! Did we meet at a signing? Are you a friend of a friend? Let me know and give me some kind of context. If we don't know each other, that's fine too. Just introduce yourself.
It's okay if you haven't read my book; I won't dislike you. Keep in mind, though, if you haven't read it and you're asking for a favor, I might wonder why you want me.
But if you have read my book, it's important to make sure that your "I like your book" line comes off as genuine. I've received a few emails in the past that include lines like "I'm a fan of your work" and nothing else. Because I'm nosy, I often hunt down a Goodreads profile or blog to check. Of course not everyone updates their GR page with every book they read, but when I don't see my book listed as read (or even to read) and they claim they're a huge fan of my book/work/a generic word that isn't my title, I start wondering if they might be fibbing.
Like a lot of authors, I get many requests for things, especially around release time (already a super busy time). Which means I need requests to be quick and easy to understand. Help me out by putting all the information I need somewhere I won't have to hunt for it. (So, not buried in a giant paragraph of other stuff.) I really like lists. (You might have noticed.)Like this:
What it's for.
What I need to do.
When I need to have it done by.
Infinite options aren't as fun as some people might think. "Write a guest post for me about whatever you want!" is actually super stressful, because then I have to come up with a topic. I prefer when I'm given a few options to choose from, or something broad but still topical. A post about sequels. A post about voice. A post about how to ask for guest posts.
If you're using a template and modifying it slightly for several authors, that's fine! A lot of people use these for big events and blog tours, and it makes sense to avoid writing basically the same thing fifty billion times. I mean, I do appreciate being sent to individually (rather than a huge B/CCed email) and my name used in the salutation. But it's just fine if I can tell you sent the same basic thing to other authors.
As far as I'm concerned, the best thing you can do when approaching an author for something is this: be polite and professional. Proofread. Remember that answering interviews and writing blog posts takes time away from actual book writing. Ideally, we'll both get something useful out of the arrangement (blog content, exposure, whatever).
Again, this is all just me, and what makes me happy or sad might not be the same for other authors. But I honestly don't think you can go wrong with sending a clear, polite, and respectful email—no matter who you're sending it to, in any industry.