For the Love of the Book

I read a Facebook post recently where an author was bitterly complaining about the service (yep, that’s the word they used), they were receiving from an administrator at an Indie book site. The service was slow and they weren’t happy that it had taken several weeks to have their book featured. And, just the other day a reviewer friend of mine who just lost a family member, emailed an author apologizing that their interview would be delayed and explaining why. The response back from the author was silence, no sympathy, just silence, and then eventually, a short email from the author tersely asking when they could expect their interview to be posted. This is unacceptable behavior, online or face to face.

So, here’s the deal. Actually, there are two things. First of all, the folks we interact with online are real. Yes, they are. They’re not just smiley little icons or names with this @ in front of them. They’re real people. I heard someone say the other day that when we’re online we should pretend we’re not. Pretend you’re face to face with the other person and treat them with the same respect and courtesy you would in real life. It’s a good thought, and I’ll take it a step further. I’m going to be here for a while. The majority of my income is derived from my book sales so the relationships I have with you and the other folks in the reader/writer community are very important to me. So, if there’s a website I think is helpful I’ll share it and perhaps even mention it in an article that I write, or if there’s a reviewer who I think is doing a great job then I’ll do everything I can to support them.

I’m new here myself, and I don’t know everything, but I’ve learned a few things in the past couple of years and one of them is that it’s important to pay it forward. I was helped early on by a prominent Indie author. He took the time to point out what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. Because of his help I went on to find a lot of readers for my books, and I’ve never forgotten what he did for me, and I try to do the same for other authors. It’s no different with reviewers and bloggers and the folks who look after Indie sites. They need our support and patience too, and again, they’re real people.

Secondly, most, not all, but most of the reviewers and administrators and site owners we interact with are either unpaid or receive very little financial compensation for their efforts. Yes, there are some who have cultivated their sites and built thousands of followers and now have a viable business that’s generating revenue, and you know what? They worked hard, and they’re entitled to whatever they earn. The majority of bloggers and reviewers however, are doing it for a different reason. They’re doing it to find the gem, the undiscovered book or author that nobody’s heard of yet.

Years ago, when I was an unruly teenager I would spend time trying to find the most obscure music out there. I’d scour the records in my local record shop (yes, it was that long ago), trying to find the music, or the sound that made a difference. I wanted to be the guy who found the band or song that nobody had discovered yet. I wanted to hear the noise that made a difference. Sometimes I found it too.

Reviewers and bloggers are no different. They do it for the same reasons, and yes, as the title of this article states-they do it for the love of the book. There’s nothing quite as exciting as being the one to find the words that are put together so poetically that you gasp when you’re reading them. I’m currently reading a book by traditionally published author Robert Harris, and I’m enjoying it very much, but it’s not giving me the same thrill I experienced when I read Andy Weir’s “The Martian”, or Laurie Boris’ books, or Victoria Aldridge Washuk’s books about her Grandmother’s days living during the time of the London blitz. When I read those books there were points when I stopped and thought to myself, “Who wrote this and why haven’t I heard of them?” That’s what the majority of reviewers and bloggers are looking for. They’re looking for us at our best. They’re looking for work that makes a difference, and they put countless hours and efforts into trying to find it.

I was giving a presentation at a local writers’ group the other night and I spoke about the target that we, Indie authors, have on our backs. We’re constantly held under the microscope by many in the traditional publishing industry and even by some readers. They talk about the bubble bursting, eBook popularity waning (which it isn’t), and the lack of professionalism amongst Indies and their work. I was even sent an email this week from my local writer’s federation linking to an article that bemoaned the lack of quality self-published work. Most of these criticisms are laughable, but the fact remains that the target is real and it’s there, and you know what, I’m going to wear it-proudly. I’ll show you some of the best books I’ve read that just happen to be self-published. I’ll show you professional, supportive conduct that I haven’t found in any other industry I’ve been involved in. And, I’ll show you creativity and ingenuity that no one in the traditional, safe, conventional sphere of publishing is attempting. There is no magic. We’re just all people doing the same thing, trying to either create or find the words in the book that make a difference, and as long as we remember that we’re dealing with real people, we’ll get there and if you’d like to take shots at that target, go right ahead. We’re here and we’re here to stay, and we’re not hiding from anybody.

Author: Martin Crosbie

Martin Crosbie is the administrator of and writer of seven published novels. His self-publishing journey has been mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly, Forbes Online Magazine, and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. You can learn more about Martin on his Amazon author page.

73 thoughts on “For the Love of the Book”

  1. Love this post. It amazes me how many folks don’t follow the golden rule.

    You go, Martin! We’ve got your back 🙂

  2. Good stuff, Martin. We do all need to remember that real people live at the other end of the intertubes. I’ve met some of my dearest friends through another online community where I’ve been a member for more than a decade. Some of us have traveled hundreds, even thousands, of miles to meet up with one another over the years.

    1. It’s interesting that you say that, Lynn. I met someone the other night that I’ve been corresponding with for the past eight years and we enjoyed our time together so much that we got together the following evening too. You’re right, I have some incredible friendships today because of the connections I’ve made online. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Excellent article Martin. I agree 100% about being real person in cyberspace. I have sent books out for review. When a reviewer didn’t meet the appointed deadline, i would send a message asking how it was going. In many cases they were going through some tough family times, A few grieving over the passing of loved one or close friend. All I could do was send condolences and offer my sympathies. Family first reviews second, third or fourth. They were appreciative of the support, realizing I cared about their lives and not just their thoughts. It is the only way to go. Well done.

    1. I agree Jeff and I like what you said “family first reviews second, third, or fourth.” It makes total sense and when we conduct ourselves in the way we’re supposed to we attract like-minded folks, don’t we. Appreciate your comments!

  4. Whether in real life or online, I think we’re all attracted to folks who have empathy, treat us kindly, and actually see us as a person. Everyone wants that. But some forget to try to be that for others. Some writers can behave badly, but some of the folks I stand behind at the hardware store behave badly, too. We readers can just hide from all that, but writers can’t hide and have to be prepared for all kinds of interactions. I applaud your courage!

    1. Wow, thank you very much. And, I agree (and stole your thunder a couple of comments previous), we are attracted to folks who treat us the way we want to be treated and there’s no reason that shouldn’t apply because we’re online.
      Great to have a comment from a reader, thank you!

  5. Amen, all the way around. Yes, we need to treat each other with respect, otherwise we’re just @$$holes, and yes, we indies are here to stay and we’re making a difference. The nay-sayers will continue their nattering–so what? Let them–but we will continue writing and publishing great books. Great post, Martin. You hit the nail on the head.

    1. I agree, Melissa, and quite honestly I kind of like being the kid who disrupts the class. After all, the class totally needed to be disrupted. Thanks for commenting!

  6. I always make sure that I thank anyone who has taken a moment from their life to recognize mine. I struggle with the callous attitudes of so many online. We aren’t entitled to anything, and should be gracious when we are acknowledged. Your post is right on target, thank you, as always for the time that you spend to share your thoughts and wisdom.

    1. Thank you so much and you said what I was trying to say. It’s an attitude of entitlement that we have to battle sometimes. And, just like the best revenge is to live life well, the best way to combat negative energy is with positive energy, so all we can do is be a positive example. And, you’re certainly doing that, too. Thank you!

  7. Very good article. Its sad how badly some people behave simply because of the aninimity provided by the internet. I see it on a daily basis in more forums than just facebook and it simply blows my mind that people don’t realize or simply don’t care that there is an actual person behind the monitor. As for the target on our backs; its only there because the number of quailty works from indies and the felxability indie pulbishing offers is far more inticing than the standard routes (in my opinion.) The indies are cutting into the status quo and that scares the big publishers enough to make them stand up and and start shouting to try and distract/discourage both readers and writers. I, for one, chose the indie route because I felt and found the standard publishing route and practices to be rediculious and massivly time consuming. If I had it all to do over again, I would not hesitate to go the indie route again.

    1. Thank you, J.m. I agree with all your points. You know one of the things I’ve been thinking about (and I’ve been giving this some thought since I wrote the article), is that often, online we don’t have enough people who are brave enough to tell us the truth. I got lucky, I found colleagues who will tell me if my work is lacking, my book cover is poor, and I hope they’ll also tell me if my conduct is less than stellar too. There are a lot of rah rah encouragement places online (and those are important too), but in order to honor a friendship (virtual or not) you need to tell the truth. So, I hope if I ever cross the line and forget that I’m dealing with real people somebody gives me a virtual slap.
      There, I’ve written a whole other blog now. Thanks very much for your insightful comments!

  8. Thank you Martin for you words. Those targets are real and sometimes can be a heavy load to carry. But we do carry them and smile when someone takes a shot at it. Some one once asked why I blog for indie authors. What do I get out of it. I tried to explain to him to help them along as well as help ourselves. He didn’t get it. I just smiled and said, thats alright. I hope you have a wonderful day Martin and thank you for this post!

    1. Thank you Wendy and Charles. I have a friend who says “the secret to a good life is a good life”. The same rules apply here, don’t they. The reward is in the reward. Not everybody understands that though do they. Keep up the great work and thank you for your kind support!

  9. Martin, every word you wrote is correct. And we, as indies, do need to wear the target, but we need to do our best to show where many of the criticisms are wrong. Being rude is not the way to create lasting relationships with readers and/or bloggers.

  10. Well said Martin. Maybe people reading this post will take to heart life still happens on the other end of an email. I’m sorry to hear about the reviewer’s untimely loss of a family member, and I hope the reviewer and family are able to carry on with love in their hearts – keeping their memories fresh of what joyous life they all shared together.

    1. Thank you, Adam, that’s very nice of you. And yes, life doesn’t stop when you click on that little “x”. It keeps going. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts!

  11. Very good article! Being indie is rough, being a person is rougher. It seems that people are making poor choices for how they treat each other in all the different aspects of life. It is good for someone to stand up now and then and say, “Hey!”

  12. Martin, one thing I’ve found in this whole flash-flood industry is that you never hurt your career by helping another author. It’s become my golden rule and I I’m glad you shared the help you had early on and for paying it forward. Kindness counts.

    1. You’re right, Sondra. I share everything and help when I can and that’s what sets our industry apart from others. There are few out there who help each other the way authors do. It’s a very cool feeling to be part of it, isn’t it.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  13. Oh, Martin. What a great post. Where do I start!?

    The good and bad of the Internet is that we can make wonderful connections around the world, BUT we often forget to be human. Would we scream “buy my book!” in a room of other people? No, but many do it online.

    Would we ignore a family death of a dear and giving reviewer if we ran into them in person? Hopefully not, but some do online.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir but thank you for pointing out the atrocious behaviour that I’ve often encountered online. Let me be one of your many fans to say, “Thank you for being the epitome of caring and paying it forward.”

  14. Your brilliant mind and timely observations are in line with mine as I oft find myself gasping at behavior that would turn Emily Post into a tornado in her grave, never mind just roll her over. So glad you thought, wrote and shared, Martin. Every writer’s group online needs to read this material. Should be mandatory reading for everyone online. Period. 🙂

  15. Excellent article, Martin. One of the first things I can remember being told in regard to manners, it was actually my grandmother who said it: “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” I have always taken that to mean that criticism is all right as long as it is constructive and delivered with empathy.

    My grandmother was long gone by the time the Internet began but I think she would have been appalled by some of the behaviour.

    Another grandmotherism: “Remember to always say please and thank you.”

    Thank you very much for that post, Martin.

  16. Bravo Martin. I’m not religious in the slightest but I’ve always believed “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the best piece of advice ever given. And it doesn’t matter one bit whether the others are flesh and blood or digitial! -hugs-

  17. Thanks for common sense reminders about how to treat the online world. I sometimes feel my eyes rolling when an author insists that I’m supposed to post the review of his/her book on a set schedule and leave little room to actually read the darn thing. Has this person seen the pile of books that threatens to smash me flat? Does he or she realize I’ve got other things to do more important, gasp, even than reviewing books? Thanks for a smile on my face from your understanding of how community works.

    1. Thank you Judith. It’s that attitude of entitlement again and forgetting that we’re dealing with real people. We’re going to try and change the attitudes and hopefully you’ll do less eye-rolling. Appreciate your comments!

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