Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How much author contact is TOO much?

I need your advice. Yes, yours. :)

I have Google Alerts set up for my name and for each of my books' titles, so I can see whenever anyone's talking about me online. This is great for reviews, since I like to add them all to my reviews page and being notified means I won't miss any.

But I wonder about other kinds of contact. Goodreads lets readers post automatic "I'm 25% done with "Stir Until Thoroughly Confused" by Heather Wardell" notices, and of course I see those in my alerts as well.

I follow an author who retweets every single one of those alerts, and another who does the same with notes like "don't bother her, she's reading!" added.

I have books by both of these authors waiting to be read and I'm finding myself not wanting to read them because I dislike this level of "look, people are talking about me and reading my work".

This is obviously not their intent.

I have instead been replying to these sorts of alerts and telling the reader, "Thanks for reading my book and I hope you enjoy it." This feels better to me, but is it really?

How much contact, as a reader, do you want an author to have with you? I am doing my absolute best to respond to every reader-initiated contact, since if they wrote to me I feel I owe them an answer, but these are different since they aren't really directed at me.

Would you like to see "thanks for reading my book" in your Twitter feed or as a comment on your "reading Heather's book" blog post? Or should I just keep my mouth shut? (Fingers shut? :)


Lisa - Author friend said...

I think if someone contacts you directly, then you should respond. Just responding to the fact that you "know" someone is currently reading your work....makes it a little like stalking.
Personally, I stay away from chatrooms and on-line discussions that involve my work. I want my readers to feel the freedom to express their opinions (good or bad), without the feeling that I'm looking over their shoulder.
...just my two cents.

The Book Chick said...

Hmmm....author contact can be really good, and it can be really bad, so this is a hard question for sure.

Case in point- I am working my way through a review book right now that I am honestly not loving. I'm soldiering on, but the author's frequent e-mails to check on my progress is bothersome to say the least. MOST authors don't do this, for me this is one in particular, but I am getting rather annoyed. I feel like telling him/her that I am a working mother of three young boys, one of whom is having surgery next week. I am doing my best! So I guess that my answer is minimal is good, replying to e-mails is good, but oversharing is bad!

Oh, and one thing that I love about you Heather is that you promote your books but you're not forceful about it. One author I know seems to make people feel guilty for not buying their book. Well, I feel guilty whenever I read one of their high-pressure sales-pitch blog posts. It's getting to be a bit much for me, and I'm thinking of removing their blog from my feed. It's all too in-my-face. Okay, all done ranting now. :)

Heather Wardell said...

Lisa, I have been and definitely want to KEEP on responding to everyone who contacts me directly. And I have actually been staying out of chatrooms etc. as well and I wasn't entirely sure why, but your explanation IS why I'm not doing it. So thank you for that!

Jonita, thanks so much for the "you promote but aren't forceful" compliment. I find self-promotion so weird in a lot of ways and I'm trying hard not to be pushy, so I'm very glad I'm succeeding with you. (now buy all my books. :) (I think you have them all already. :)

Ick to the "frequent e-mails to check on your progress". I err on the side of less followup and I definitely don't want to annoy a reviewer!

I feel like I'm on the right track: respond to direct comments, promote without high-pressure, and don't stalk readers. :)

Thanks, ladies! :)

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