I’m an avid reader. I celebrated pinning down the release dates for my Infernal Hunt books yesterday by putting some shiny new urban fantasy books on my kindle. I love giving book recommendations and squeeing with people over amazing books. My favourite day as a kid was Saturday because it meant spending the morning at the library with all of those books to read!
I’m also an indie author. I write because I want to to entertain people. I want to have an impact on peoples’ lives, to enrich their experiences. My dream as an author is to write books that have the impact on someone that some of the books I’ve read have had on me. I write to make people feel, to help them escape, to make them a little happier.
This means that I keep readers in the front of my mind when I’m doing anything to do with my books.
Unfortunately I see a few behaviours from authors (trad’ pub’ and indie), and within the author community that aren’t beneficial to our readers. I want to talk about a few of them, as both a reader and an author.
First we have the attitudes towards social media. The clue’s in the name. As a reader, I go there to be social. I go there to hang out with other awesome people and talk about everything under the sun. I go there to engage. I do not go there to see ad after ad for someone’s book, to be auto-DM’d, or guilt-tripped in reviewing someone’s book.
When I see those things in my Twitter stream, when an auto-DM pops up in my inbox, I unfollow that person. They could have been an amazing person, we could have connected over our love of scotch and fast cars. I’ll never know, because all I saw was a heap of ads. I’ve talked about the review thing before here, so I won’t go into it again.
As a reader, I do follow quite a lot of authors. I follow them because they’re fun, inspirational, and wonderful to be around. I follow them because they make me feel good as a person and as a reader. They’re not there as a moving billboard, they’re there as a real person, with thoughts, passions, emotions, and gifs. Yes, they do mention their books, and I support them in that. I support them because that isn’t their primary purpose, they’re just sharing another thing they’re incredibly passionate about.
The next thing that bugs me as a reader is when an author doesn’t properly edit their books. Yes, I know editing’s expensive. But there are options. There are critique groups, and beta readers, and editors who’ll work with trades. As an author, it should be a point of pride. You should want to put out the very best book you possibly can.
As a reader, I work really hard to earn the money that I do. I’m a freelance developmental editor and copy writer. I work six days a week (it used to be seven). Every penny that I earn is precious. I have bills to pay, medical bits to fret over. I can’t afford to throw money at books that I have to strain to read because they’re full of typos and plot holes. I can’t justify spending that money on something I’m not going to get anything positive from, and it’s really not fair of you as an author, to expect me to as a reader.
On the topic of expectations, there are quite a few memes that go around saying about a barista takes five minutes to make a cup of coffee that you happily spend $6 but you won’t spend that much on a book. As a reader, that feels really unpleasant to read. What I hear when I read that, is rather than someone being happy that I chose to spend my hard-earned pennies on their book. That I chose to gleefully shout about their book from the rooftops because ohmygod have you read it yet!? Rather than them being happy that I, as a reader, did that, they’re complaining that I didn’t give them enough money for my experience. That makes me feel like the author views me as a piggbank, to be entirely blunt.
I’m not saying authors should work for free, I plan on paying my bills from my books. I plan on doing that by making a lot of readers very happy. That’s for another time though. What I’m saying here is, think about things from your reader’s perspective. Imagine if your local family baker started posting the same meme but replace book with cupcake. How would you feel then? What if it was your car dealer or your carpenter making a similar statement about cars or cabinets? I’m not saying you should change the price of your books, or you shouldn’t think about your income. I’m saying think about how you’re making your reader feel when you make those kind of statements.
Finally! The overall attitude towards reviews, particularly negative reviews. I don’t really write reviews these days, and I know a lot of people who’re the same. As a reader, I find them difficult, exhausting, and potentially unpleasant. I’ve had authors say really horrible things to me because I dared leave a three star review on their books. I’ve seen authors publicly try and humiliate every single reader who had the nerve to leave a review of three stars or lower.
Dude! Seriously? We all know reviews are important, there are plenty of memes floating around about how important they are. They’re also hard to write! It takes time and effort to formulate your thoughts and feelings on a book, and then go and post them places. Don’t forget that a lot of people read on their kindle, or phone, so then going to Goodreaders, or Amazon, or Kobo, or wherever, takes effort. They then have to try and distill all of those emotions, thoughts, and feels, into something they’re happy to put in public. That’s really hard! So when someone puts in that effort, when they take the time, keep in mind just how much time and effort that really took. Remember that they took the time to read your book, and then write that review.
When I see an author pulling that stuff with reviews, as a reader, I run away. Really fast. Even if their books seemed kinda cool and I was interested in checking them out, I run away. That person has just shown a mean streak that I don’t want to get involved with.
This post really can be wrapped up with the title. Think of the reader! As an author I want to be a positive force in my readers’ lives. I want to make them laugh, and smile, and ok maybe cry, but good crying! I have absolutely no doubt that you do too. So next time you see that meme floating around about reviews, or the price of books, or you think about posting your 15th book ad for the day, just think how you’d feel as reader, it if an author you love posted it.