I don’t know about you, but being an author and being someone who has connected with a lot of authors since becoming one, I’ve learnt a lot about these people called “authors”, and how best to treat them. My instinct, when someone tells me they have written a book, is to gush and say “Wow, well done!” even before I know anything about the book. And my instinct, when they ask me to read and review it, is to nod and say “Sure, I will!”
But wait just a moment… Be very careful what you say to an author, because THEY NEVER FORGET! And they take your promises very seriously, even if you are a stranger they just met. I mean, why would ANYONE read their book and not love it enough to review it? They are so sure of their product, but they are also reliant on their readers to be kind, to exercise good reading ethics and to keep their promises.
So, here are five things you must keep in mind when dealing with authors and their books:
- NEVER EVER EVER promise to read and review. If you can help it, never promise to READ full stop! I don’t know how many people have got a hold of my book, The Church Girl, who have promised to read it and still haven’t, a year later! And of those who have read it, and promised to review, many still haven’t kept part two of their promise. And it’s very likely that they never will. Not necessarily because they didn’t like it (actually, a few have told me that they loved it and even read it multiple times!), but because LIFE HAPPENS to everyone, and they’ve got their own priorities, and reviewing just seems like WORK. And overtime, their promise becomes a dropped baggage, cluttering their home, that they will one day sweep out for peace of mind and clarity. So, good reading etiquette NO 1 is never promise to read and review an author’s work. Even if s/he is your mother or father or sister or brother or best friend or spouse! Never ever.
- If you do read their book, kindly GIVE FEEDBACK. It is a reading etiquette to give feedback for every book you read. Don’t promise to, but strive to do the right thing. Jesus said, “Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”. Anything more is of the evil one” (Matt 5:37), and I agree. And we all know the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you…” (Luke 6:31). Now if you wrote a book, wouldn’t you want people to give you feedback, even if it wasn’t positive? If not for anything else, so that you will improve! If you don’t know the author personally, then the best way to give feedback is by dropping a review where you got your copy. Authors usually leave their contact details as email addresses. Try to use this avenue to tell the author if you loved the book or had any issues with it. But the key thing here is to be KIND! Don’t run the author down with negative criticism. Try to be constructive. If you really don’t care anything about the book or author, you are free to walk on by and/or drop whatever review you believe will help others make the right choice in buying the book. If you know the author, but didn’t like the book, reach out to them privately to share your feedback and/or concerns. Don’t post a negative review as a feedback when the author is a friend. You’re not being kind nor helpful.
- If you loved it, SAY SO and REVIEW IT! It seems like common sense doesn’t it? Many times, people read great books that they can’t stop thinking about and talking about. But they rarely return to the author to say thanks, to encourage them or tell others to buy their own copies, so that they too will be blessed by the amazing book. Really, it’s great that you told your friend to buy it, but don’t stop there. Tell the whole world by dropping a good review for the author where you got the book, or minimally, sending them an email. It is very likely that they left a website, an email address or even a social media handle where you can reach out to them and show them some love and support. So few people do it, so believe me, they will appreciate it a lot! And you might just motivate them to keep writing and pushing, and for your small effort, get to read more of their amazing writing! WIN WIN!
- Support the author and STAND AGAINST PIRACY! Piracy is a really big problem for authors. Especially in this digital age of ebooks, which are easily shared and duplicated by WELL MEANING fans. Whether or not you liked or appreciated the book, don’t encourage piracy! Don’t share your ebook with ANYONE! Not even your spouse…because your spouse will probably share it with their best friend, who will share it with their trusted friend, who will share it with their family etc etc. You are the only one you can trust when it comes to standing against piracy, so let it end with you. Encourage EVERYONE you know to get their own copies and read the book. Even if you have a physical copy, encourage others to buy their own. Yes, you are free to lend physical copies, because by so doing, you are not duplicating content that belongs to someone else. But are you really helping the author you love when all your friends and family are passing around ONE copy of their book? If they can’t afford to get their copies, be a GOOD FRIEND and reader, and buy for them as a gift 🙂
- If you are too busy to read and review, BUY THE BOOK. This is for those who are friends or closely related or acquainted with the author. It is likely you knew when they started writing the book, and may have read drafts or just a few chapters. They may have told you about their book, and sought you out to read and give feedback or a kind review. They probably even gave you your copy for free out of love and respect for you and your opinion. But you are too busy. You might not even be interested in the book, the genre, their opinions etc. But because of your friendship, it’s hard to say that. And you can’t turn down a free book… What to do? BUY IT! Not because the money is what they want, but because it is a form of support and encouragement. If you can afford to give above the asking price, do so. Buy multiple copies for others, but don’t promise that you will read or review it! You have given your support as a family and true friend, and they will NEVER FORGET your kindness. And who knows, if their book turns out to be a hit, you can smile knowing that YOU were part of their success story.
So, here are the five tips for dealing with friends and family who are authors. Especially if they are new authors or first timers. They are very delicate creatures, who are in need of support in a competitive and challenging world. And the truth is that one day, you just might be in their shoes! One day, you might decide to write that autobiography or that fictional story you’ve had in your head for decades, or even a book you’ve been wanting to write about a subject you know so well. One day, you will need a friend LIKE YOU to support you and encourage you. Be that friend to your author friend today, and they will be your sponsor, adviser, editor and even promoter when it’s time to launch your masterpiece!
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