Three Author Rules (I Try To Adhere To)

Time for a Sunday morning introspective post. 😉

[Photo by me, this morning, October 4, 2020.]

I wonder at times if I am something of an oddity among authors. But I have always taken a bit of pride in being “awkward” and paddling against the prevailing current, I suppose. Bottom line, there are several authoring behaviors I just don’t like.

For example, I have made no secret of the fact (so you may well know already) that 1) I do NOT agree with the “prodding” (no matter how nicely worded) of readers to do anything, such as…

[From Instagram.]

…asking them to write online reviews of your books, particularly on Amazon.

I saw that above yesterday on Instagram – and I do like the writer who posted it.

However, I hold this differing view: I believe once someone buys one or more of my books that the books cease to be mine and I should LEAVE THOSE READERS ALONE and NOT ATTEMPT TO GUILT THEM INTO DOING ANYTHING. Why someone buys a book is entirely their own business. Not everyone wants to leave a written review (on often troll-ridden web sites like the awful Goodreads, or even on Amazon), or snap a selfie of themselves waving the book.

* * *

Then there is this other stuff among writers that is pushed at potential readers. Again, I saw this the other day on Instagram – and again I do like the writer who posted this too…

[From Instagram.]

…although I did not know the writer to whose book she refers.

2) I do NOT like to see authors reviewing books courtesy of free copies and I do NOT and will NOT do so. (The word has clearly gotten out because no one has asked me in ages.) I do not because I think there is too much “chumminess” in a writer reviewing a free copy sent to them by another writer; in doing such a review there is I feel an implied “You review [and make it a good review] my book, and I will return the favor.” [Wink, wink, nod, nod.] Many of such reviews may indeed be honest, but how can we as readers ever be sure? I believe even a whiff of a chance of a quid pro quo between writers is unacceptable.

Additionally here, about the (we are told) he “donates all sales to animal charities” comment. (Underlining is mine.) What is that supposed to mean for us as potential book buyers? Am I supposed to be more inclined to buy his book because he says he does that?

That is hardly the first time I have seen that sort of thing declared virtually in neon lights. Indeed he does so on his own Instagram, which I could not miss when I clicked through from that review to have a look at his bio. So should I buy a book from someone working hard to create a career in this current mess of a world and perhaps help put a roof over their head or buy from someone WHO TELLS US he is so noble he gives all of his book earnings to an animal charity? Are those struggling to turn their talents into a means to earn money possibly to pay their bills of a lesser moral order?

If that author is financially able to give away his writing earnings to charity, he could just as well do so SILENTLY. But this is not about charity, really: we have to be TOLD he donates because it is meant as a sales pitch to look to attract more readers. Unfortunately that reviewing author even naively? relays that he says he does it.

I have never formally reviewed a book on social media or on Amazon. Yes, I have made positive comments on here and on other social media over the years about liking some authors’ books; but the important distinction is I had also bought those books. I just enjoyed them as reads. They were NOT freebies sent to me in exchange for me sharing hopefully positive comments – because, let’s be perfectly honest, no one sends out freebies expecting to be trashed by the recipient reviewers.

I see too much questionable activity in Amazon reviewing and among some writers. I want no part of it. I am determined to keep myself as clean as possible and what I do between myself and my readers.

[An 1800 excerpt from Tomorrow The Grace. Photo by me, 2020.]

Maybe as a consequence of my stance I don’t attract quite as many readers overall. I don’t care. My conscience is clear.

* * *

Lastly, there is also this from a tweeting writer who is unhappy with her followers:

[From Twitter.]

I don’t follow her (and based on that tweet, I won’t), but I saw that in the timeline of someone I do follow. Thinking there must be some reasonable explanation, I scrolled back and had a scan of the last several months of her timeline: it is basically a series of retweets or merely herself boosting her books, and there is actually not much with which to engage. One example:

[From Twitter.]

By the way, that “fantastic” book?

You will be shocked to discover, I’m sure, that it is hers.

And another:

[From Twitter.]

What does one do with tweets like those? Robotically hit “like” just because she posted them… even if you did not much like them? My gut tells me most of her followers after a while grow tired of seeing that stuff popping up time and time again in their timelines (I know I would) and simply mute her. If you feel you have lots of followers and not enough engagement along the lines you wish, my suggestion is you first start engaging with some of your followers and also scrutinize what you are posting.

3) NEVER blame followers or readers.

Attacking social media followers for indifference is akin to blaming readers for poor reviews. If you are not getting good reviews, the only answer is to try to write better books. Similarly, if your followers seem uninterested in your social media, don’t try to shift the blame to them: it is in all likelihood YOU who are boring them.

I don’t mean that post to read as harsh. It is just what I believe. Hopefully you are still here, and you are having a good weekend, wherever you are. 🙂

12 thoughts on “Three Author Rules (I Try To Adhere To)

  1. I hear that reviewing free copies is risking Amazon jail, lol. As a rule follower and one fearful of authority figures–the two times in my life I got pulled over by the police, I almost fainted in terror–I have no interest in taking that sort of risk. It would be just my luck to get caught and never be able to publish on Amazon again. 🤣😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t heard that one, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Regardless we should not even look as if what we are doing is not above board. Yet some of the appalling behavior I have also seen on AMAZON-owned Goodreads seems to have no consequences, which is why I won’t use GR.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol, I’ll take your word for it and stay away. I’m still recovering from the young woman who drunkenly leapt the desk at American Airlines in Miami last week in an attempt to bludgeon the customer service rep. That filled my quota of appalling behavior for the time being. 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great insight, dear Robert! Imagine, neither Leo Tolstoj you like so much nor Jan Austin cared about the Amazon reviews, readers, etc. They were concern about the problems of their time. Talent will remain in eternity…no matter the Amazon & promotion. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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