Middle Grade Mondays: Advice for Male Middle Grade Authors?

(NOTE: we are in syndication for the next several weeks here at The Accidental Novelist because life is so full of awesome right now that Danika is really, really preoccupied. She will definitely respond to comments, though. And has for some reason started writing in 3rd person.)

reposted from Sept 2011

Here’s something interesting I hadn’t thought about until recently. How do male middle grade authors cultivate a young female audience without running up against the “creep factor”?

It might sound funny, but in this day and age, we are quite protective of our young ladies when it comes to interacting with adult males.

When I was at the SCBWI conference, a debut male author asked an agent how he could cultivate an online social fanbase of young girls without coming across as a creep. Her answer was “If it sounds creepy, it probably is creepy.” We all kind of agreed, but then I thought about it. I have young girls in my social networks, generally friends of the family or ex-students, and I sometimes communicate with them directly with no parental supervision. Yes, the parents all know who I am, but would I be able to do this if I were a man?

My male publisher once told me that when he’s at book events he’s always looking out for 10 year old girls because that’s our demographic for my fantasy series. But he says he never approaches them because he doesn’t want to come across as some creep. Whereas I, particularly at festivals, haven’t thought twice about approaching a girl. Most of the time they’re with their parents anyway.

I told my publisher the best thing to do would be to approach the parent and talk about his author and her book (as opposed to himself). The parents are the ones who ultimately buy the books anyway.

Has anyone else ever come up against this? Does anyone have any creative solutions or advice?

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2 Comments

Filed under Middle Grade Mondays

2 responses to “Middle Grade Mondays: Advice for Male Middle Grade Authors?

  1. Being a female, no, I haven’t really run into this issue. However, as an after-school writing teacher (holding my class in the school library) I am sensitive to being the only adult in a room with young kids in general. I have to have a background check run and get fingerprinted, so I’m good to go, but it is that one-on-one factor that can be dicey, when you work individually with kids on their stories.

    I think your advice is great. Go straight through the parents, and then you eliminate the ‘creep’ factor. 🙂

    • For sure, we have to be careful with one-on-one contact, even as females. I, too, have teaching credentials, so I’ve done the whole fingerprint/background thing. But that’s not total assurance. It must be so much harder for males, though. I coudn’t think of anything to tell male authors other than keep it public and work though parents as much as possible.

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