Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book-Giving at the Holidays


I love giving books as gifts. Like LOVE giving books as gifts. It makes me happy on more levels than I can iterate:

  • Introducing someone to a new world to get lost in
  • Helping another author make a living
  • Spreading the love of books that will hopefully be shared and talked about
  • So on and so forth...

But there are some problems with giving books at the holidays too.

  • For every Smutketeers 12 Days of Christmas that gives away tons of books and gift cards and stuff, there are ten authors who are pushing their books on readers and buyers. 
  • For every author willing to answer questions to help you pick the best book for a reader, others ignore  questions completely. 
  • And so on and so forth. 

If you are an author, this is really the wrong time of year to be a douchebag author. It's a busy time for everyone, but you ignore your readers and potential readers at your peril.

For example, my daughter is nine. She is a very advanced reader. Middle grade books, for the most part, are too easy for her. She's reading young adult and soaking it up like a sponge. But she's nine. While I don't see her stepping out and trying to become the next evil wizard bent on world domination, she can and will be inappropriate in certain things she choose to talk about. (In other words, I'd prefer books for her where sex and swearing are at a minimum, thank you very much.) Yesterday, I asked about a series she's interested in and (on the off chance it was caught) @mentioned the author. The author did see the tweet. Retweeted it in fact, but didn't answer the question about whether or not the series contained sex. She left it up to her readership to do so. Thankfully they did, and I know it's not an appropriate series for my daughter right now.

But too often questions online are lost to the aether. Thousands of people see them and no one bothers answering (to put it in perspective, this author has over 30,000 followers...3 answered the question, one with a "not sure on the last book"). I get it, and it's fine, but normally when people retweet questions, I assume they don't know the answer and are trying to help. In the case of a reader asking you about your're the best source of information.

Will I potentially buy the series for my kid in a few years when she's older? If she still wants it. But that author turned me off her work personally. I would like to thank the readers who stepped up to answer my question, though.

If you are an author, you need to remember that readers and potential readers are necessary for you to make money. (We shall ignore pirates and jerky readers, obviously.) No readers, no money. It's ridiculously simple math that my math-hating 9 year old could figure out. Be kind to your readers. Be as generous to them as you can. Without them, you don't have a career.

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