So today’s discussion post is something that used to come up all the time when I was on Goodreads, and has happened a couple of times here: interacting with authors. On Goodreads it was nearly always a bad experience, though Tony Hays (author of Arthurian mysteries) was great and a couple of others too, plus of course authors who just wanted to offer me a copy of their books to review. But quite often the author would come by to argue with my rating.
There’s always exceptions, so it’s hard to come up with simple rules. But here’s a couple I think authors could stick to:
- Don’t react to reviews unless people have indicated they’re willing to discuss them with you.
- Don’t spam people with offers of copies to review.
- Don’t spam people with anything.
- Don’t make everything about your book — other interactions may not seem like they’re directly gonna sell your book, but I’m more likely to buy your book if I’ve had meaningful interactions with you. Even if that’s about other books. Maybe especially if that’s about other books.
- Remember that nobody owes you interaction, nobody owes you an explanation, nobody owes you their time.
Buuut sometimes I think reviews could use some rules in reply. Mostly I think they’re common sense, but then someone always comes along and ruins my idealistic dreams. So hey:
- Don’t beg for freebies.
- Don’t draw the author’s attention to a review unless they’ve indicated they’re interested in reading reviews of their work.
- Remember there’s a difference between the author’s voice and their character’s voice and even, depending on the narratorial choices they’ve made, their real opinions.
- Don’t, for goodness’ sake, proudly announce that you’ve pirated the author’s book. There are some authors who don’t mind this much (Cory Doctorow) or have found that their books sold better after one was available free (Neil Gaiman). But for the most part, you’re telling them that they’ve lost revenue. Even if it wasn’t illegal (it is), then telling people you’ve pirated is just poor taste.
- Review the book, not the author. (It’s fair not to read something because the author is a raging homophobe, but then you don’t need to review the book, because even doing that is getting them oxygen to keep on raging to an audience.) Sometimes biographical details can be important in understanding a book, and sometimes you’re just making douchy assumptions or being a bully.
…Not that this is an exhaustive list (either of them, actually), but these are some of my pet hates.
How about you?