“Hello? Can I speak to Stephanie Meyer please? No? Oh, ok.”

Have you ever read a book and thought ‘I soooooo wish I could meet this author’?

If you have ever seen a true fan, young or old, meet an author whose work they love, you will have vicariously experienced their thrill.

I’ve been in the fortunate position to have met many of my favourite authors, having worked as a journalist and run a writers’ festival, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching others get their books signed and bask in the presence of a person they thought was fabulous.

I’ve seen grown men turn to tongue-tied jelly around their favourites, I’ve seen children beg authors to come and play at their house when they were finished book signing, and I’ve seen people corner authors and want to tell them their life stories, start a long conversation – become their friend.

Because sometimes when you have loved a book, or a series of books SO much, you feel like the author almost IS a friend.

Many of the famous authors I’ve met were very humble and shy people, very giving of their time, and kind. But they were also, in a sense, unapproachable in everyday life to the average Joe Blow – they were busy, private, famous people who were booked to appear at festivals and the like and paid to do so.

Not all authors, of course, reach those heights – but they all started somewhere – which brings me to my point: Indie Authors and fans.

There are so many authors now, like me, who have chosen to publish their own work, rather than go through the handful of big publishing houses that have previously dominated the publishing world. Now authors can control their royalty return, their product and their interactions with the public. But with that comes the responsibility of getting the world to know about their work and who they are – the marketing.

One way to do this is to put together a team of ‘advanced readers’ people who read books ahead of their release date and post a review the day it is launched. The reviews help others locate the work and gain traction for the book in terms of promotion across a range of sites.

Essentially authors are forming their own little publishing house team of avid readers who all work together to ensure content they love is continuing to be produced. Author sells books = author has enough food on table to continue writing books = readers get more of the books they love.

But how do you find advance readers? How do you get your little team in place? Something I’m noticing lately is authors offering free books across a range of platforms to entice readers to sign up to mailing lists. ( Sign up to mine here )

This works.

But not all people who receive free books will be bothered writing a review – not all of them want to get to know their author, to establish a communication channel and be part of a ‘team’.

I can’t help wondering though, why? If I read a book free or otherwise and loved the book, I would be keen to start a dialogue with the author. They might not be famous yet, but they very well could be one day – and even if they never are, I liked the book, so that makes them special.

I guess what I’m saying is, it can be easy to take advantage of new authors – to take their books and give nothing in return. But, by giving something, a few minutes of your time to rate a book, a quick email highlighting an error or asking a question – you could be opening the door to a friendship with someone that in a few years’ time will still remember you, still keep in touch, still consider you part of their special team – while others are waiting in line to have their books signed and hoping for a quick word.

“Hello, I’d like the phone number for George R.R Martin please? Ah yeah, the Game of Thrones guy. Not listed huh? Bugger, I knew I should have joined that team!”