16 December 2010

Is knowing less of an author sometimes more?

In the last months I have thought a lot about how authors present themselves in the online world and how they treat their readers when it comes to answering emails. I want to share some of my thoughts with you and would love to hear what you think about them.

Blogs, twitter and facebook changed the online world and opened up new ways for authors to interact with their readers. I enjoy meeting authors online and follow quiet a few on twitter, fb and via blogs. I love to learn little things about their lifes as writers and to stay up to date with upcoming books.
From time to time I also like it when an author shares something private (not too private) with her/his readers. But sometimes I feel that some authors tend to give away to much information on their private life. I don't want to know every little intimate detail. Sometimes TMI can make me feel strange towards an author and her/his books. So I learned to unfollow the authors who share too much with their readers because otherwise I would have trouble to enjoy their books.

I also don't like it when authors publish one political (and really dumb) propaganda post after another. There's a pretty high probability that an author's readers have different political opinions and I think it's not so bright to make fun of one certain group over and over again. Of course authors should be able to state their opinions but when you have a facebook fanpage for your readers this might be the wrong place to do so. At the beginning of the year I unfriended an author on fb because her political posts started to make me dislike her. I enjoy her books and didn't want her IMO unprofessional behaviour to overshadow my reading experience.
My #1 pet peeve is when an author doesn't answer emails from readers. I email authors mostly to say thanks for a great book and to ask something about future projects. Or to ask them for a guest post or interview for my blog. Most authors I encountered are very friendly and professional when dealing with their emails but some just ignore them.
I can understand not answering very negative and mean emails. However my own emails are always very nice and most often I would be happy with getting a "Thanks" or "Yes/No" back. But when I get no answer at all it just sucks and makes me wonder why the author is offering readers a way for contact at all.
When you get emails from your readers treat them as you want to be treated when you contact the customer service of a business. I can imagine that authors get an enormous number of emails every day but when you offer a way for contact then you should be willing and happy to receive emails and also answer them.

In my opinion authors are like business owners and readers are like their customers. If you want to be successful you should treat your customers in a friendly and respectful way. If you just ignore them, make fun of them or bombard them with intimitate details of your life they might start looking for other businesses to spend their money on.

Rant over :)

I want to know what you think about authors and how they interact with readers in the online world. Do you think that I expect to much or do you agree that an author should answer nice and professional emails by readers and bloggers?


  1. I agree with everything you've said, Sabrina!

    Perhaps it's a sign of the world we live in today, but I think if readers and authors remember to apply good old-fashioned manners everything else will fall happily into place.

    Of course, authors DO have disasters from time to time which make things tricky. A few weeks a go a mouse nibbled my modem to death and my hard drive died! Thank goodness for the carrier pigeons!



  2. I have emailed several authors to tell them how much I've enjoyed their books, and all but one emailed me back, thanking me for my comments. I want people to know when I enjoy something, and it increases my reader loyalty when they respond. :)

    I also unfollowed an author on Twitter because she was consistently mean-spirited, which surprised me. Everyone has a bad day, and we all complain, but this was something I didn't want to keep seeing. I'm now thinking twice about her future books.

    It's tricky when we're all so visible! I try to keep this in mind, even when commenting on blogs, because I know I'm encountering what might be future readers of MY books. :)

  3. I get the occasional email from readers and always make a point of replying to them. As you said, they are an author's customer, and if we don't treat them nicely, they won't continue to support us. And frankly, it also helps me as an author to have contact with my readers. If I know what they want from my work, I have a better way of meeting their expectations.
    When it comes to interview and guest blog requests, why would any author (unless you're a total hotshot) toss away that kind of free publicity?
    I also think authors should keep a little of the mystique that surrounds them.

    Tina Folsom

  4. I agree with everything you say. I don't initiate a political comment, but I will comment on something another friend will say about a political matter if I agree. If I don't agree, I don't comment. FB is not the place to argue about politics.

    I normally agree about answering emails, but a friend had a death in the family and some other family situations that put her way behind on deadlines. She ended up deleting hundreds of emails. This is something she would normally never do, but I can understand why she felt she had to do it.

  5. I like that some of the authors I know share some of their private lives with their readers, but it also depends I guess on what type of relationship you have with the author. I like the fact that I have actually become very close to some of my favorite authors and vice versa.
    The political views I do agree with, sometimes it's good to keep things to themselves or post on their private page.

  6. I have emailed a few authors this year, which is a new area for me and all of them have replied and been very nice.

    The latest one has been Ali McNamara who was my first guest author on my blog last week! :)


  7. I think that if the author gets really popular that cannot be expected. I looked up Richelle Mead and Cassie Clare because they are first two that popped into my head. They do have contact email available but DO state that they will not respond to all especially questions that are answered on FAQs. I think this is perfectly reasonable.

    I think that slightly lesser know authors if they put up an email should try to answer, but I never know what is going on with them, and honestly, when it comes down to it, I would rather them write than respond to me in the long run.

    That said, I love to interact with authors through email, fb, twitter, and love to host them for guest posts and interviews.

    Great discussion topic!

  8. Good points..gonna make this really short, I was happy before I was in contact with authors. So perhaps I like it that way, cos now I know who has been nice and who has been naughty and that does color my perception of them

  9. WoW that is a great topic and post! And I agree with you on every point and would also like to point something else out.

    There is one author where I adore her books insanely - but I feel that she's not really nice to her fans and I unfollowed her on Twitter. Nothing happend to me personally but to others and also when I see her FAQ I feel like she's just not truly nice. I can understand that they have to keep their privacy and have to draw a line between them and their fans, but still it's the fans that buy her books.

    Then, it also disappoints me totally when an author doesn't answer a mail.It's just that, a disappointment.

    Fact is, those things makes me enjoy the books less than I should which seems weird since the only thing that should matter is the book. But when an author disappoints me - this is what happens.

    Fortunately there are just two cases like this and most of the authors I met are just super nice and wonderful. And those I also love to support!

    (Ok, THAT was a rambling mail...)

  10. I agree with most everything you said! There are some authors that can be mean spirited and maybe make fun of other authors or books and I hate that. But talking about political things could possibly turn me off as well. Knowing some of the more negative things about an author could definitely change my mind on reading their books or even just recommending them after reading them.

    About the emailing. I appreciate a reply, of course- but for some of the big time authors, particularly ones that may be on tour, I kind of understand. I've had authors email me later and they were apologizing like crazy but they were getting hundreds of emails a day from fans.
    What REALLY annoys me is when they reply and say they'd do a guest post and/or giveaway but then they never get back to you. I HATE bugging them and emailing them over and over. I had this issue recently and I had actually let my readers know of a giveaway but then the author disappeared off the face of the earth.
    This is a great post with some fantastic points!

  11. Candace, OMG the last thing you described also happened to me. An author said ok to an interview and when I emailed her two days before the date to get back her answers she just acted as if we had never emailed before. Not a good way to deal with your readers. I will continue to read her books but in the back of my mind will always be this incident.

  12. I'm in the minority here, but I don't feel that an author should have to respond to every email. Let's face it, they are all pretty darned busy between writing, revisions and all the publicity they have to do that their publishing houses previously used to do for them. Prior to email, you would never have expected a personal reply from an author, in fact, you probably wouldn't have been able to find their address to contact them anyway.

    Maybe it's different for bloggers because you are helping to publicize their books and therefore maybe you expect more from them, but as "just" a reader, I'm thrilled to get a reply, but I certainly don't expect one.

  13. For a long time, I didn't follow any authors on twotter, and I still don't interact w/any of them on Facebook. That's my RL area.

    I think social media is the place for authors to let a little loose and let their personalities come through, but I do agree with you wholeheartedly about the email thing.




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