Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When responding to readers--who may be reviewers--an author's attitude makes a big diffference

I read lots of books. I particularly read lots of books about publishing, both to learn and to check on possible competition for my own books about publishing.

In the last week I've read two unsatisfying books which try to instruct self-publishers. They both have useful information, but the presentations are badly flawed. Typography, cover design and editing are deficient. Both books have factual errors, reveal bad decisions (and ignorance), and include inappropriate material.

I often email authors with questions, comments and corrections. I don't identify myself as a blogger, writer, publisher or reviewer--but I don't hide my identity, either. Any author could instantly find out about me with Google or Bing.

My communication with "TM" was as unpleasant as reading her book. She made ridiculous attempts to justify bad decisions, ignored some questions, and seemed downright resentful ("Why are you asking these questions?"). Her snotty attitude killed any chance of getting a positive review from me.

The reponse from "JV" was completely different. He was appreciative of my comments, said that he knew about some of the errors and regretted them, and tried to courteously justify the decisions I disagreed with. He even said he might thank me publicly in the next edition of his book.

I was not looking for public gratitude or ass-kissing, and I did not like his book any better after the email--but I did like the author much better. And that will affect my review.

Attitude means a lot.

(smileys from

1 comment:

  1. It's a lesson learned. You just never know who you are dealing with, and it always pays to be polite, even when the reader is downright rude.

    Of course, being nice isn't going to help if you end up getting bad reviews from competitors, but those are rare. In my own experience, I've gotten many critical e-mails from readers, especially for my tax books, and they have made me a better writer.

    Many of those people who sent me very critical e-mails also ended up giving me mostly positive (4-star) reviews, and those helped my sales! Buyers tend to believe a review that is positive, but mildly critical.