Over on Mark Billingham's forum there's been an interesting and lively discussion about crime fiction reader demographics. The point was made that attendance at Harrogate, for example, is largely female. Attendance at the writing workshops - largely female.

The topic expanded, as topics do, to discuss the fact that men do actually read, but that there is still this perception that it's okay for women to be fans, but not so much men. Mark chimed in that his fan mail primarily comes from women.

However, most of my fan mail comes from men.

Do you guys have any reservations about getting books signed? Would you write to an author you admire to express appreciation for the impact of their work? Or is there still this idea that it's uncool or not manly to do that? Is it easier for you to write to a woman? It seems to me most people on here have or plan to attend a convention... Is this not gender specific but impacted by culture as well?

And if you guys don't answer we women will just assess you without your input.

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Note to whoever wants to put together the next Bouchercon: Portland, Maine is very nice.
And I bet it would be cost efficient too!

Now, if you and Patrick will plan it, it'll be perfect.
Writing fan letters to authors, actors, etc. sounds a little creepy to me. Email feels pointless, and creepy. I guess it's good though, so long as they don't say:

..."I loved your book. Oh, and that's a lovely sweater you're wearing." ...

Even though I don't have a book on shelves, folks have written me about the stories at my website-- all men. One was a prisoner as I recall. Didn't know they let they surf the net. Hmmm?
Do you feel creepy when you get mail from people about your stories? Or do you appreciate it, or does it depend on what's said?

I don't think it's creepy to write, necessarily. The writers who've freaked me out have been far fewer than the ones who've made my day.
Depends on the content, like you said. All of mine have been positive-- somehow-- and I've kept them, so it wasn't creepy in that regard. ... It's creepy only in the area of expectations. What do these letter writers expect? So long as it's low expectations, and they just want say we're great-- super. Anything else and I might get creeped out. Like the prisoner wanted me to read his novel. Do I say no and maybe risk getting him pissed off, so when he gets out of the joint I’m on his hit list?
You know, you raise a whole different issue Charles. I think authors sometimes get pressure to do certain things or they'll lose readers. I'm not saying I can afford to alienate readers, but I don't like the idea of being held hostage. There's this one guy who writes all the time and if you don't write back to him enough and fast enough he'll bash you. I've seen him bash authors on forums for not responding to emails or not making their email address public.

It's unfair.

And I get the double whammy because of Spinetingler - or is that triple?
I have no reservations about getting books signed. I have a ton of autographed first editions from a who's-who of the genre. (Just got signed copies of Jim Born's latest and the new Robert Crais from Murder By The Book in Houston.)

But, until I started writing in earnest and learning about the business, I had no idea that book signings or fan conventions existed. Boucher-what? And now when I tell friends and family about my next book signing, about half of them will give me blank stare and stutter over the words "book signing" like it's an alien term.
I know what you mean about the conventions. I went to Harrogate because I heard about it from one of the organizers. First time I heard about B'con someone tried to persuade me to go to Toronto, and Toronto is never tops on my travel destination list. I didn't do Chicago either - I went back to Harrogate, which is a bit more my size and scene, although I don't know if I'll get back there any time soon. My husband wants to do Fire Expo this year.
At my first convention I was star-struck and shy around authors (except a few I'd 'met' onine). Since then I've loosened up a little. I have been to a few signing around Dallas and Fort Worth. I usually find out after they're over - for example, Joe Lansdale was in town last week and I missed him.

I did write a gushy fan letter to Bill Pronzini once, and received a very gracious reply. I keep meaning to send out more letters, but as in everything, I can't seem to get around to it.
Maybe you could start a fan blog: Love Letters from Graham

Okay, joking. But that's cool. You raise a different point, though, about how poorly advertised author events are. When Rankin was coming here in 2004 I was hunting high and low for information. People have been asking about his US tour plans for next month as recently as last week - not on his website.

Strikes me that part of the reason there isn't better turnout with most of them is they aren't promoted. When Michael Connelly was coming here in October I found out completely by accident, and it was the first time in his career he'd been to this city. The numbers were good, but they easily could have been triple what they were.
I'm afraid I'm atypical. I'm a heavy reader, and the few fan letters I've written have been to mostly men, and I've had books signed as well.
I think that's great.


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