Author Etiquette 101: Mind Your Manners by J’son M. Lee

J'son M. LeeDesperate times call for desperate measures.  All of us have heard this phrase at one time or another.  In short, it means when people get into trouble, they feel forced to do things they wouldn’t normally do for survival.  Authors are no exception.  When it comes to our livelihood, most of us will do whatever it takes to sustain it.  Many of us draw the line when it means sacrificing our reputation or integrity; however, there are a number of authors who choose to stand their ground no matter the cost.  I am of the mindset that authors who want their books to be noticed will garner more fans and support by remembering their manners than by imploring tactics that may jeopardize their livelihood.

When an author spends months or even years developing a project, it stands to reason they want readers to take notice of their masterpiece.  However, just as bad parenting can ruin a child’s chance at success, authors can do the same for their books if they forget common courtesy.  It is important to respect those who impact your livelihood.  This list includes readers, reviewers, editors, and yes, even other authors.  Here are a few simple pointers for authors about proper etiquette:

Be Courteous to Your Readers

Everyone is not going to like your book, and as wonderful a person as you are, everyone is not going to like you.  Let that sink in for just a moment.  In most cases, those who fall in either category will be in the minority.  If we embrace this fact, we would realize there is no need for public outrage when we feel attacked personally or when we receive less than favorable feedback on our work.  It is not necessary to respond.  Brush it off!  This is easier said than done sometimes, but you must decide who you want to become and walk confidently in that path.  Let your fans fight your battles.  Remember that person who said how great you were?  How brilliant and thought-provoking your narrative was?  Yes, that person.  Let them handle the minorities.  Stick to what you do best – writing great prose.   If you’re going to be a professional writer, act like one.

Be Creative and Strategic

Just because you have the capability to reach readers 24/7, it doesn’t mean you should.  Talking about yourself or your book incessantly gets tiring.  How many ways can you say, “Have you read (insert name of book)?”  or “1 click (insert name of short story).”  At some point, you must realize that readers tune out or simply ignore your post.  It is human nature.  Stop blasting timelines and groups with your book advertisements.    Be a little more creative and strategic with the information you share.  Book groups have voiced over and over how they hate being bombarded with book advertisements.  So, why are you still doing it to the degree you are?  If it’s arrogance, you need to check that – NOW!  Your posts speak to your professionalism.  I would venture to say that most readers want a little more from you than a book link.  Share information that will spark conversation.  Readers really like to get into your head.  Give it a try!

Ultimately, if you fail to treat readers right, your work is in vain.  The business (yes, we are running a business) of writing isn’t as complicated as many make it out to be.  Remember the basic rules our parents taught us:  1) say please and thank you and 2) treat others the way you want to be treated.  It is really quite simple.  Treat your readers right and you will have the best, free marketing for life.  Treat them badly, and you will have a public relations nightmare.  When treated badly, readers will not tell others about the great book you wrote – no matter how great it is.  Bottom line, mind your manners!

J’son M. Lee

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2 thoughts on “Author Etiquette 101: Mind Your Manners by J’son M. Lee

  1. Wendy Jones

    Very well said. To that can I add readers do not want you to post every 5 star review you get for your book. If they were that interested they would look at the reviews on Amazon etc. an author saying look what Jo Blogs from Aberdeen said about my book isn’t going to make me rush out and buy that book

  2. Lorieen

    Thanks for reminding me to stay on my toes with my creativity. I appreciate this blog post. It was very well stated.

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