I read a blog post on a reviewer’s website that made me rethink online courtesy. This woman went on a rant about authors who aren’t considerate enough to say “thank you” when she reviews their books, often at their request. She held the opinion that after she spent “hours reading and reviewing” a book, the least the author could do was “take a few minutes” to send a follow-up e-mail, especially if it was a good write-up.
Wow – I thought we were all on the same page! I know a lot of authors who don’t communicate with reviewers because they don’t want it to look like they’re sucking up, and I’m one of them. I do write to people who give me free exposure, especially bloggers who have featured me as a guest or interview subject. Oftentimes it results in a return invitation, and it’s common courtesy. I was raised by a generation that believed in sending “thank you” notes, so it’s a habit. The one time I received a terrible review on a blog, I actually wrote to the reviewer to thank them for their honest opinion. I didn’t like what they said about me or my book, but I chose to take the high road and show them that I wasn’t bothered by their negative comments.
I used to write book reviews for a romance site and I didn’t expect flowers when I reviewed someone’s book. That isn’t why I did it and I can count on one hand the times an author reached out to thank me or question my parentage. If they did drop a line, I appreciated it, but it wasn’t what I lived for. Often, I’ll hold contests and offer a book as a prize. When I send it to the winner, I always ask them to let me know what they thought of it. I don’t ask them to post a review on Amazon, but just give their opinion so I’ll know if I’m reaching my audience. This is something else I don’t count on because people say they will, but usually don’t. It’s all part of the game and no, I don’t take it personally.
The remarks I mentioned earlier gave me cause for pause. The person referenced “hours spent reading and reviewing” books, but I wonder if she has any idea how much time and effort an author invests in getting that book ready for her to read. We agonize over every word, detail, revision and rewrite. We worry that the cover might not convey what the story is about. We sweat out a release date then become sleep deprived from promotional activity once it’s released. We anxiously await feedback and when we get it…we’re chastised because we didn’t say “thank you?”
As I said, it’s all part of the game and there is no right or wrong approach. Some people express themselves beautifully through the mouths of their characters but fumble when it comes to speaking from the heart. I fall into that trap myself at times. I suppose that’s why we choose to write, to express ourselves through words, and that’s a great thing.
For what it’s worth I don’t expect a “thank you” note for this post, either. Just buy one of my books.