Today I wanted to talk with you about how to thank an author.
Authors are needy people. If you don’t have one in your life, be thankful. We’re moody, self-absorbed and fickle. It’s probably like living with a comedian. They’re never “on” at home, so the idea of living with someone who’s a laugh a minute never quite approaches reality.
It’s not enough to think you thanked an author by buying his book. Oh, I suppose that for someone at the JK Rowling or Stephen King level, a purchase is thanks enough. But not for authors anywhere else on the scale. We want–need, really–the further validation (and sales!) derived from a review.
In today’s publishing world, a few lines left on Amazon or Goodreads (but really, Amazon mostly) is worth its weight in marketing gold for a struggling writer…someone like me. Those starred reviews posted on either of these websites are powerful. They move books like nothing else these days. And authors like me lie awake at night dreaming of going to Amazon each morning…sigh…as I do, and seeing if anyone has left a review. I know, pathetic.
It’s such a simple thing, really. It doesn’t have to be long, complicated or erudite. I think this is one thing that scares people off from doing reviews. You don’t have to be a Roger Ebert or a George Plimpton. Just a few words about the book, what you liked, a few stars…and done. Really, even something as caveman simple as “Book. Good.” does the trick.
I don’t know what it is for me, and I don’t know if other writers experience this, but getting people who are close to me (you know, the ones who should really, really want to help me…family…friends) to leave an Amazon review is like asking them to lop off a limb. I can’t tell you how hard it’s been for me to get a lot of my family and friends to leave me reviews.
I know it’s an imposition and takes some time. But not a lot. And the little bit of effort on your part creates a payoff for the author that is astronomical. Even the less-than-five-star reviews help. It helps to show that people are buying and reading the book. Let’s face it, people are like sheep, and they want to know other members of the herd are doing something before they plunge in. And a less-than-five-star review, I believe, helps to validate the other five-star reviews. I mean, not everyone is going to like what you write. A book with only five-star reviews starts to look suspicious. (BTW, this is in no way meant to encourage any of you to go online and leave me a less-than-five-star review at Amazon or anywhere else. Really.)
But it’s not just me. If you’ve got other books, big or small, that you’ve enjoyed, support the author, thank the author by leaving a review. Believe me, it will be appreciated.
And that, my friends, is my subtle plea, a whining, boot-licking appeal for any of the six of you who read this column to go and leave reviews for Little Deaths and The Bell Witch and whatever else comes out from me. I thank you from the bottom of my needy, moody, artistic heart.