I think it can serve as a friendly reminder or a lesson to everyone. And heads up: This is a long post (Not sorry…)
AND PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS NOT A CALL-OUT POST!
In my experience, I’ve encountered four types of authors:
- The veteran author who publishes a novel and does a series of blasts on their personal social media and/or through an organized blog tour.
- The veteran author who publishes with little or no fanfare and just let it do what it do.
- The newbie author who publishes their debut with little or no fanfare and hopes for the best.
- The newbie or veteran author who publishes their book and seeks out readers and bloggers EVERYWHERE to friend, follow, and ultimately SPAM them with buy links or requests for reviews.
Lemme say for the record: #4 ain’t cool! At all. And I’ve been dealing with a lot of #4s lately. And just…
I understand being ambitious and overzealous, and I applaud your hustle. But the issue I have is your methods. I have no other way to put it delicately, other than to say that it’s just rude. So, I have a few suggestions:
- Do not send a friend request on Facebook if you have no genuine interest in personally socializing on occasion and your only motivation is to “build your reader list” so that you can get views and engagement on your marketing posts. As much as many authors dislike them, that’s what an author page is for. I’ve even seen authors share their posts from their author pages on their personal timelines, and I’m cool with that because it’s giving me a choice of whether I want to engage in that post or not.
- Do not use a person’s friend list to seek out potential readers and send them friend requests. The only way I would personally be cool with this is if you and I engage on a mutual friend’s post and we hit it off, and you send me a friend request. I’ve had that happen many times, and it was all good.
- Do not post buy links on a person’s timeline directly after they’ve accepted your friend request or followed you back. I will unfriend or unfollow you immediately. The same goes for those auto DMs on Twitter thanking a person for the follow and please buy my book…
- Do not email a blogger with a spotlight, tour, or review request and include buy and social media links, along with a copy of your book (You trust me like that?) without making proper introductions first. I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve sent straight to the spam pile. I’m not saying I need your life story, but a simple Good Day, I’m Annie Author, and I write so and so and would like to request a ______ is more than sufficient. Not, I’m requesting a spotlight or review of my book. Here is a copy. Look forward to hearing from you. This really happens!
- Piggybacking off of #4, Do not, and I mean do NOT send a copy of your book to anyone unless it is mutually agreed upon and you set the expectation upfront. This includes what you expect in return for gifting a copy, share rules (This should be a no-brainer, but trust me, it isn’t), and a timeline if applicable. I am fairly certain this is how pirated book sites and friends of friends of friends get their hands on a copy without actually paying for it. If at all possible, send a copy straight to the person’s e-reader.
- Do not take social media relationships for granted. Just like “real life” ones, they should be based on trust and mutual respect. And just like real-life ones, burning bridges is not a good look if you’re in the business of selling yourself. People talk, and you never know how far someone’s reach or influence is, so always be courteous and kind, even when they are begging to catch hands. That’s what the block feature is for, and I’ve used it more times than I care to admit. Saving receipts also helps, lolol…
- And lastly, when in doubt, just ask! That’s what DMs and IMs and any other private messages are for. I am ridiculously approachable, and if I don’t know the answer, I’m sure I know someone who does or who knows someone who does.
- Readers/fans: Do not harass authors with countless personal messages about their work and how much you just love them. I know you don’t mean any harm by it, but many authors find it unsettling and downright creepy. In other words, you look like Annie Wilkes from Misery.
- Readers/fans: Do not post disparaging messages on an author’s social media pages about how much you disliked a book or why they did or didn’t address such and such in a book. That’s what reviews are for. And if you feel that strongly about it, then reach out personally to the author (But not in a combative way!)
- Readers/fans: Unless the author gifts you a book, do not ask for a free copy of their work because you feel entitled to one. Art is not free. Labor is not free (Or shouldn’t be when the expectation is to be compensated for it). While some authors make writing seem effortless, trust me: It’s not. I’ve tried it. The finished product may be a virtual masterpiece, but you don’t know the behind-the-scenes work it takes to get it there: editing, revisions, life…I have seen so many horror stories from authors about readers who have asked them for free books because they couldn’t afford them or they simply didn’t want to pay for them. I know money can be tight, and buying books is a luxury for some. Many libraries now offer online library cards where you can check out e-books and Amazon has a loan feature. If you can find a mutual book friend who’s willing to loan a book, go for it! But asking for a free book is just tacky…
- Readers/fans: Do not harass an author into releasing a book when they’re not ready. Again, prepping a book for release takes time, especially when you expect (unrealistic) perfection. Now that I’ve experienced the behind-the-scenes action personally, write/release is a myth-at least not for those authors who care about the quality of their work.
- Readers/fans: Do not accept an ARC if you have ZERO intention of reviewing it. You were just in it for the freebie, and you basically just suck. ‘Nuff said…
- Bloggers: Do not solicit authors for copies of their work to review on your blog. It’s supposed to be the other way around! You have a blog. You put in the work to make it known you’re a review blog and that you’re accepting review requests. Include links and contact info. Establish a social media presence and be active on it! You’ll find 9/10 that the author will seek you out in no time.
- Bloggers: Be upfront when an author does contact you. If you have no interest in reviewing their book or if your schedule is hella backed up or whatever, tell them! Don’t string them along and have them wondering when their book will be read and reviewed. And set the expectation before agreeing to a review/spotlight/whatever. Give them a realistic timeline (Something I constantly work on…) and how the review process works. Do they really want an honest review of their work, or do they want a review only if it’s favorable?
I’m gonna end it here. I’m tired (lol). Share some of your do’s and don’ts when it comes to networking. I am constantly learning myself, and I’m sure we can all mutually benefit from it.