Author Etiquette 101: How To Support Readers

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I had a recent post for readers: 20 Easy Ways Readers Can Help Promote a Book. As you would imagine, I had a great response to the article from authors. Many of them wanted to share the article on their blogs, websites, and newsletters. And I happily granted permission.
However, I also received responses from readers who weren't so enamored by the post. They said there have been all too many times when they've helped promote a book only to have their efforts unappreciated or ignored.

Ideally, readers would like authors to stop by during an interview, say thank you for the tweet about their book, or simply notice the things they do to help promote.

Granted, authors are busy. We have a difficult time keeping up with writing schedules, deadlines, social media, marketing, etc.

But does busyness give an author an excuse not to show appreciation to supportive readers? What comprises good author etiquette? How much interaction should an author have with readers who help promote? Should an author say thank you? And if so, in what situations? Are there times when an author's silence is best?

As always, I don't have all the answers! So I'd love for you to chime in the comments with your thoughts. However, I can share what I've done (or am learning to do).

Here are some simple ways authors can support their readers:

1. When another blogger invites you to GUEST POST or hosts you for an INTERVIEW:

*Make a point of visiting the blog at least once or twice during the course of the day(s). Leave a comment and answer questions. This lets guests know you have visited and care.

*If you won't be able to visit the blog during the day, let the host know you'll be busy but that you'll try to stop by at a later point.

*If you have the chance, post a tweet or facebook comment to your followers letting them know about the guest post/interview. This can potentially increase the traffic and readership of the blogger who is hosting you.

*If possible, put a link to the interview on your blog and/or website as another way to bless the other blogger with more traffic. We want to always be thinking of how we can give back in return for all we've been given.

*After the interview/guest post, send a personal email thanking the blogger.

2. When a reader posts a BLOG REVIEW of your book.

*Set a Google alert to raise awareness of blog reviews (set the alert to your name as well as the title of your books). Ideally if Google worked the way it should, I should receive emails whenever anyone posts about me or my books. But nothing ever works ideally, and thus I probably only get a fraction of the alerts. Nevertheless, some is better than none.

*Try to visit the blog and thank them for taking the time to write the review (ESPECIALLY if the reader contacted you personally to let you know about the review!)

*Keep a running list of the blog reviews someplace on your website. You can see my running lists here. Whether or not anyone ever goes to those blogs to read the reviews, I'm not entirely sure. But by posting the reviews on my website, I let my readers know I appreciated the review enough to highlight it. (And by the way, if I've missed listing your review, please let me know!)

*If the review is unflattering or negative, it's best not to say anything at all or try to defend yourself. You'll only come across looking unprofessional.

3. When a reader TWEETS or makes a FACEBOOK COMMENT about your book:

*Respond back. Plain and simple. Tweets can only be 140 characters. And Facebook comments are short too. There's really no excuse for not taking the time to briefly write back.

*On twitter, I'll occasionally retweet that person's comment to highlight their praise as another way of saying thank you.

4. When a reader reviews the book on an ONLINE REVIEW SITE (like Amazon or Goodreads):

*The online review sites are for readers to share their thoughts with other readers. So it's best for authors not to jump into the fray. I never comment on reviews, not even to "like" them. I want readers to feel safe leaving their honest opinions without worrying if I'm hovering nearby.

*If I see that someone I know has left a review on one of the online review sites (i.e. an Influencer, blog friend, or reader that I've gotten to know), then I will send them a private message thanking them for taking the time to post their review.

Summary: Yes, authors are busy and may not always have the time to keep up. But readers often lead busy lives too. If they can take the time and effort to help promote one of our books, then we can surely make a little bit of time to offer our sincerest thanks. Maybe we won't be able to do all of the above all the time. But we can at least SAY a simple thank you.

Readers, what do you wish authors did better to show their gratitude for your help promoting their books?

Authors, what are some other ways we can make our readers feel appreciated? Is there anything else you've done or seen others do?


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