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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?

 

34 comments:

  1. Excellent advice, Jody.

    It's very important for writers to be open and friendly, and reciprocate for the many small acts of kindness that readers & supporters make. There wouldn't be much of a community without that.

    Thank you very much! :)

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  2. As a reader, I agree with everything here, Jody. I do understand that authors are busy, but so are readers. Readers read books for enjoyment, but most readers review books for the benefit of the author (unless they're actually a book blogger). So, if readers are taking time out of their schedule to write a well-thought-out review and promote an author, the author should try their hardest to say, "Thanks."

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  3. I've just recently found your blog but I love all your common sense information. Thank you!

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  4. I agree with you on almost everything, Jody, especially that it's awesome when an author stops by a blog interview and posts a link to let their readers know about the interview. My blog traffic has increased this way.

    Your comment about retweeting something someone wrote in order to say thanks is great, but I have heard others say it's "unprofessional" to retweet something about yourself, because it looks self-promotional. What are your thoughts on that? I don't necessarily know which I agree with!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lindsay,

      Yes, I do think retweeting praise about your book IS also self-promotional. I think that's why we need to do it occasionally. But I have gotten the impression from readers that they like being retweeted. I certainly like it! :-) The retweet obviously puts your name in front of a lot more people and makes the person feel important and that what they had to say was valuable. But again, I wouldn't do this ALL the time, every day! Otherwise, it does come across looking like you're tooting your own horn!

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  5. Good morning, everyone! Thanks for chiming in to the discussion! I always love all your thoughts!

    Since writers are readers too, I think it's always good to think about how we want to be treated as a reader--at least that's how I try to see it. I don't like being ignored by other authors I help, and if I don't like it, then I'm sure my readers won't!

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  6. Great post Jody. I think engaging with fellow authors, not to mention readers, is a massively significant part of the process. I will certainly be bookmarking this page and referring to it again in the near future!

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  7. Terrific post, Jody. Thanks. It's always good to be courteous and you've given us great ideas for how to go about it.

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  8. I always ask myself, "What would JK Rowling do or Rob Delaney," and then go smoke a ham.

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  9. I'm always excited for Tuesday and Thursday mornings because I know I'll learn something valuable from your posts! As a reader, I love all of these things you mention. I know that authors are super busy, but when they take just a moment to acknowledge me, it goes a long, long way in encouraging me to continue to promote their books.

    I just received a post card in the mail from an author I absolutely love. We've connected on her blog and mine, and we've shared some other conversations on Facebook and Pinterest. When I received the post card, I was surprised and thrilled! Knowing that she took the time to send it to me, and that she truly enjoys our friendship, made me a life long fan! I will do everything I can to help promote her upcoming release - not only because I like her so much, but because I want others to read her lovely stories.

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    Replies
    1. I love the idea of sending postcards! Thank you for sharing that! I might have to consider doing it for my next release! :-)

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  10. ouh, Good Morning, Jody!
    Another wonderful post. It's clear that you do take time to write them and I like that very much!
    To be honest a simple thank you note, for me does the trick.
    I always learn something here, bless you Jody for taking notes of details most don't even notice!

    A good day to you! =)

    Ganise

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  11. Excellent advice Jody. Thanks for reminding us that it's "the little things" we do as authors that help build a fan base. And I'm all for showing appreciation. After all, I really DO appreciate reviews and people signing up at my website. It's important to follow up and communicate that appreciation.

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  12. I think I error on the side of being too paranoid about this. I'm always worried that people have slipped through the cracks. I'd hate for any of my readers to feel unappreciated, especially since I appreciate them SO much! My publisher does something called Blogging for Books, which means there have been a lot of bloggers who have reviewed my book. I'm pretty sure I haven't thanked them all. So that's when I have to trust that readers are gracious and understanding. At least the ones I've met are!

    Anyway - great post. I don't know how you do it, but you always have something valuable to bring to the table.

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  13. The very best way to show appreciation, IMO, is to give readers your absolute best effort on the next book. And the next. And the next...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for this. I do try to send responses when I receive an email or tweet mention, but even then I am far from chatty. I do think readers want the next book more than they want conversation, and one clearly takes from the other.

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  14. I always appreciate when an author posts a comment on my blog or sends me a message through twitter about a review. This is especially true if the review is through a blog tour. Of course, if I didn't really like the book, I don't necessarily expect (or want) a response.

    I can see how a retweet by an author might seem a bit too self-promotional, but I don't mind it. It is also nice when the publisher does the retweet.

    You can read my review of "The Doctor's Lady" here: http://shoopettesbookreviews.blogspot.com/2011/11/doctors-lady-review-giveaway.html

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing the review! I'm sorry my google alert didn't catch it after you posted it. I'm glad I had the chance to read it now! Thank you for taking the time to write such a well thought and balanced post about the book!

      And I agree with publishers retweeting! That's always a boost. I think if a reader's tweet has a link, it's especially thoughtful to retweet their comment.

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  15. Good advice Jody. I was just reading an article on the importance of cultivating friendships but I believe that applies the author/reader relationship too. Everyone is busy these days but as you mentioned just a short acknowledgement could brighten someone’s day. There’s an old saying, “Please and thank you never goes out of style.”

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  16. Great information! I've been really blessed by the authors who have taken the time to do a lot of the above after I've raved about their book. :)

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  17. Thanks Jody, great advice here. as a reader and a blogger I know I appreciate it when an author responds with kind words after I let them know I have reviewed there book. I can say most of the ones that I have came in contact with have done so.
    thanks Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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  18. Great post, Jody! As a reader, when I love a book, I always take the time to send a personal e-mail to the author. Only once, did I not receive a response from the author. I don't expect a response, but receiving one is always special. I print it and place it inside the book. As an inspiring writer, I will store away your tips. :)

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  19. Love this post. Off to tweet it and schedule it for FB!

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  20. Absolutely right! I love being thanked and while I don't expect it, it's very nice. One of my favorite things to do is turn right around and promote that person right back. No better way to say thank you than to share in return in my opinion. While I'm not always successful at this, I do try hard. And I always comment on blog comments and try to respond to emails within 24 hours. After all, without readers, I'd be out of a job! Thanks for sharing!

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  21. I don't have any books published yet, but I do have a blog that's been around for several years now. I work to respond to comments, even to posts that were written years ago, and I'm glad WordPress lets me know when a new comment is up. I always feel guilty when I see, often after the fact, where someone has said something nice on Twitter, but I wouldn't have known about it if I hadn't been running a search stream. Likewise, if people don't include my Twitter handle or link back to my page on Facebook, I may not see it at all. I'd feel terrible about not thanking them. How would you recommend keeping up with what's said online? Google Alerts?

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  22. Hi Rhonda, I know I miss things from time to time. But not intentionally. Anything I know about, I try to respond to. I DO set a google alert to my both my name and my books. But unfortunately, the alert doesn't catch anything. I think the only thing we can do is try our best. And if we do that, hopefully our readers will sense our willingness to communicate with them.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jody. I feel a bit better in knowing that I'm not the only one receiving incomplete results from Google Alerts. We do the best we can, and it's all we can do.

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  23. That's the secret of entertaining. You make your readers feel excitement and contentment. If you do that honestly, the rest takes care of itself.

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