Male Middle Grade Authors – how to deal with the creep factor

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, 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. The parents are the ones who ultimately buy the books anyway.

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

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