(Belated) Happy New Year…and some author resolutions

ResolutionsHappy New Year to all you readers and writers! Yes, I know we’re three weeks into 2015, but it’s still the start of the year, and I haven’t been able to wish you all the best until now.

So, let’s talk resolutions (Lynne Cantwell made a few here). Do you make them? How did you do last year? Did you lose those unwanted pounds, find that new job, redecorate the house, read more books…write more books? Umm, more to the point, are you going to admit if those resolutions fell by the wayside in…er…February?

I’m not a New Year Resolutionist (that’s so not a word, but it should be). That’s not to say I don’t make resolutions. I do — lots of them. But I start with my resolve straightaway. There’s no, ‘I’ll start Monday, I’ll start next year’.  I decide, I act (lest I forget what it was I resolved to do;  senior moments…I have them). That said, if I have a project in mind that may involve people or weather or physical effort or time, the planning may determine a future date for its execution.

I resolve daily to try and find more time to read. The Goodreads challenge is rather handy to motivate my reading goals. Oh dear, that sounds as if reading books needs motivation. It doesn’t. No, no, no. But time to do everything I want to do in a day seems to evade me. That Goodreads target is just a little ‘push’ or reminder. This year’s Goodreads challenge has started, of course, and whilst I’d love to aim for 300 books (I’d have to become a couch potato…aaargh!), realistically, it’s going to have to be a fraction of that. My review list is still scarily long, and I’ve probably tried the patience of authors waiting for a review, but unfortunately, it is what it is. I’m one hundred and ten percent committed to reviewing all those books and am doing the best I can.

So, that’s one reader’s/reviewer’s resolution. I wonder, if I might be so bold, whether I could suggest to a few authors (just a few, I hasten to add, but sadly, it only takes one to tarnish the reputation of a whole community) that they might like to consider resolving to be just a teensy weensy bit more courteous to their readers. It’s been documented more than once on IU about authors ‘behaving badly’ after a not-so-favourable review. I’ve been on the receiving end more than once.  What’s a review for if not to say what you think about a book? It’s an opinion, usually asked for by the author.

So…Resolution Number One:  get over it; learn from it; focus on your good review(s). Don’t throw your toys out of the pram and generally disgrace yourself. Bad behaviour won’t attract readers. Authors want their names spread around for all the right reasons: they want their books bought and read and promoted as being the next big thing. Publicly insulting a reviewer is the wrong way to do that.

Secondly: please read instructions. Some review sites have formal procedures for book submissions, others are more casual.  Although I’m currently closed for submissions so that I can try and make a dent in my TBR, it’s simply a case of emailing me with a request and the genre of the book. It works perfectly for my little review blog. However…some authors come across my site (which is nice) and email me to request a review (also nice). BUT it very clearly states, at present, that I cannot take on any more books just now.

So…Resolution Number Two: please read carefully!

And lastly: I’ve lost count of the number of email requests I’ve had with no salutation: no ‘Dear Cathy’, just a demand — yes — a demand: ’Read my book’.  No please, no thank you, and the audacity to attach the book without waiting for me to reply with a ‘Well of course, since you asked so politely.’ (not).  AND to rub salt into the wound…it’s a PDF, which I specifically request not to send (not awfully Kindle friendly).  Yes, yes, I know I can convert it with Calibre, but it’s a hit-and-miss affair, and why the heck should I? I can just about overlook the no-salutation thing if there’s a courteous please or thank you. I don’t find it easy to say no…hence my ‘aaaaargh-long’ review list.

So, lastly…Resolution Number Three:  please, please, please, be polite.  As far as I’m concerned, courtesy may just nudge me into reading a book in a genre I wouldn’t normally consider. Rudeness will not only convince me never to read that author’s book(s), but if his or her name came up in conversation, I might be tempted to add a few carefully selected adjectives about said author’s manners.

I’m sure, ahem, that none of our loyal, long-term IU readers will be looking guiltily over their shoulders, whipping out their NY resolution list and adding, ‘Cathy says be nice’.  But you may know someone in whose ear you might like to whisper a little good advice…

Of course, the boot can be on the other foot. I have heard of reviewers (I’m not talking those random spiteful ones who seem to have a grievance against an author…they’re another kettle of fish…perhaps worthy of another post), who have been a little arrogant and uppity with authors. This, too, is uncalled for. The privilege is very much the reviewers’.  An author has chosen you to provide you with his/her book, free, to review. It’s a privilege not to be abused.

Good manners plus courtesy and, Bob’s your uncle, the book world’s a much more pleasant place.

Have you had a raw deal at the hands of an author/reviewer?

Author: Cathy Speight

Reviewer Cathy Speight is British and lives in England. The Kindle revived her passion for reading and after stumbling on a Facebook group of independent authors, she now does her best to encourage and assist indies as much as possible. Books by indie author form the majority of her collection. Cathy shares her views on the books she has read on her blog.

11 thoughts on “(Belated) Happy New Year…and some author resolutions”

  1. I agree with you. It is a privilege for anyone to take the time a review any book and also write a review! That should not be taken for granted as a “given” in this industry. People are people the world around and kindness to each other, irrespective of the publishing industry, should be the norm and not the exception. Thanks for everything that you do 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Patrick. I should also say that not only is a privilege, but 99% of the time it’s such a pleasure too. I have discovered many, many wonderful authors.

  2. Of course you are spot on, Cathy. At IU, receiving queries without a salutation seems to be the norm, unfortunately. No explanation of what the author wants, just a link. It’s almost like they don’t think there’s an actual person at the receiving end of that email. That’s disappointing, especially considering how much work goes into vetting and creating features – and even more time and effort goes into reading an entire book and writing a review like you do. I guess we could start responding with an email that says nothing but “No.” 😉

  3. Ah reviewers, what would we do without them? Patient, positive, good willed, mostly, I love you all. Happy new year to you, Cathy, and to reviewers everywhere.

    An excellent, pertinent post.

  4. Great post, Cathy! This biz can always use a little more courtesy. It always amazes me when authors or reviewers act up–it’s like they don’t get that their behavior is on full view. Thanks for being the voice of reason.

  5. So true. I think they think, well, I’m jolly well going to disgrace this reviewer for not liking my book, completely oblivious to the fact that in so doing they’re disgracing themselves. Thanks for passing by, DV !

  6. Well said, Cathy. I wonder whether these folks were ever taught how to write a business letter. The same courtesies that apply in writing those also apply to asking a blogger for a review.

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