How to Be a Cool (not crazy) Super Fan

When I really like an author, I really like an author. 

Kind of the same way people who love rock bands and follow them around all over the country. I do that with authors I adore, but just within the radius of my local city limits. I mean, I’m not crazy… I am just a superfan. And there’s a difference, however subtle.

Right now, I am a literary superfan of Ann Patchett and Jess Walters (just search my site for the book reviews and outpourings of love I have for them). I have met them both and gushed profusely, but not so much that that I freaked them out with my superfandom. At least I don’t think I did.

Oh. crap. maybe. I. did.

If there’s a writer that would love a superfan and not be freaked out by profuse gushing, it’s Jenny Lawson (known affectionately on the interwebs as The Bloggess).

Now, before I go any further, Jenny Lawson is hilarious. But it’s the kind of hilarity that should come with a Parental Advisory. So if that kind of stuff is not your cup o’ tea… well, you might want to stay away from her, her book and her blog. But if you want to learn how to be a superfan, keep reading, because I executed the superfandomness like a boss tonight.

Superfandom, a Step-by-Step Guide with Photos


Step One: Arrive Early
I mean really early. Like, in this case, two hours early. Note: Even arriving two hours early relegated my Snotty Literati partner, Jennifer Spiegel, and me to the second row. Unbelievable, but true.



Step Two: Purchase a Book
Duh. The author is coming to read from their literary masterpiece. How can you be a superfan if you don’t support their art? In this case, purchasing their book gives you a wristband (good for two people to meet the author), and this is your golden ticket. For the record, I already have a signed copy of Jenny’s book in hardcover. Since this was a reading for the paperback release, I bought a paperback copy to give as a gift. Brill, I know. So don’t be a cheapo. If you don’t buy their book you won’t have an opportunity to interact with them when they aren’t signing your book. Duh again. Now, if you, yourself, are also an author and are attending the reading with your friend (the superfan) who did buy the book, giving you free “admission” to meet the star of the night because remember… one wristband allows two admissions to meet the author, then you (the author friend) don’t need to buy the book. More on author meeting author later on.



Step Three: Be Prepared to Sit
Remember, you got there super-ass early. So you will sit. And stare. At nothing. And you will walk the store. And you will covet books that you want to get. Books you have already read and want to buy again because you loved them so much. Books that you haven’t read, but want to. And you will then have to force yourself to sit back down before making a stupid purchasing decision that could have ridiculous financial implications to your monthly budget. You already have that book. You own enough books you haven’t even read. Geez. Get ahold of yourself already.



Step Four: Make Friends
Preferably the kind that aren’t afraid to operate a camera or who can take a decent photo with your iPhone (This will be super helpful for Step Eight). It helps if the friend is also a superfan (or crazed fan, like ours kind of was). Be sure to remember the good manners your mother taught you – if you ask them to take a picture of you with the author, offer to do the same for them. You will definitely want evidence that you not only met, but interacted with the object of your superfandom. Plus, you can kill time by having these new friends take your picture with your own author friend while you are waiting for the damn event to start already.



Step Five: Revel in Your Audience Placement
See mom? I am not always late. I got here early enough for a second row seat and look at all these suckers behind me! There were even folks sitting on the floor. For an author? Yes, folks, for an author.



Step Six: Enjoy the Moment
It will go faster than you think. And if the author is a riot and and an over-sharer like good ol’ Jenny here, you will want to just take one picture and sit back and enjoy the moment versus documenting every second of it.



Step Seven: Know There is Always Something to Learn at a Reading, Even if You Have Already Read the Book
I have read Jenny’s book and the chapter she read, The Psychopath on the Other Side of the Bathroom Door, about her own personal colon cleanse to drop three pounds without exercising makes you laugh until you cry tears down your leg every single time. And, yet, the poise and confidence she displayed does not come naturally or easy for Jenny. She’s a chronic anxiety sufferer. Chronic. Like can’t-often-leave-the-house chronic. So the fact that she’s written a New York Times Best Selling Book and gone on tour twice for it is quite a feat. And do you know how she does it? With a lot of therapy, meds and following the advice of fellow author and friend, Neil Gaiman, who told her, “Pretend you’re good at it.” How awesome is that? I do that every day, or try to. But I never had words like that. Jenny had this written on her arm for the night as a reminder.



Step Eight: Get Your Picture with the Author
Trust me, they love to do it. They really do. Well, I don’t think Pulitzer Prize winning author Annie Proulx likes it. I barely got her to crack a smile when I had her sign some books for my parents… so I didn’t even ask her for a picture. It doesn’t matter, I hated The Shipping News. So there.



Step Nine: Do Whatever the Author Wants You To
This crazy picture was all Jenny’s idea and, of course, I obliged.



Step 10: Bring a Gift
With Jenny’s love of taxidermy and large metal roosters, you can imagine what might show up as a gift at one of her book readings. But come on! That’s quaint and cute and totally weird. So, I brought a friend! Jennifer Spiegel! The Jennifer Spiegel who authored Love Slave and she gave it to Jenny as a gift. And Jenny was super sweet and excited about it and felt more comfortable when Jennifer explained that she brought Love Slave from her own inventory and did not steal it from the Barnes and Noble bookshelf.



Step 11: Get Giddy and Lose Your Mind
You just met one of your favorite authors! And because you told her that she was one of your favorites and you went to her reading for the hardcover book release and already have that signed copy, you brought a friend whom you introduced to the fantastic book and after you sign the paperback you bought to give as a gift, could you please just sign this little Moleskine journal and write me a note? Because that would be really awesome. And she does it. She writes you this lovely note about how you are the best and you get so excited that you and your author friend run off, completely forgetting to take the picture of your new crazedfan friend. Yeah, remember her sitting next you both with the little stuffed squirrel for Jenny and a hand-written note thanking Jenny for helping her accept herself, crazy and all? The friend that took like 10 pictures for you and the least you could do is take one of her with Jenny? The friend that, when taking what should be the best picture of you and Jenny, turns out to be all grainy and blurry (see Step 8), that you don’t really feel that bad for running off and forgetting. Remember, you were living in the moment. Plus, there were other folks that could take the picture for her.

Of course there were!

Hopefully there were.

Oh. crap. I. should. have. stayed.