Friday, May 17, 2013

Author Behavior

A lot has been made about proper and improper author behavior. A lot is being said, and I'm sure the talk will continue for as long as there are authors to talk about. It seems like every week, some author is getting himself or herself in a jam.

Given my area of the universe, I most often hear about authors behaving badly when it comes to negative reviews. There is story after story after story of authors flipping out when their "baby" (their book, not their actual child) is received negatively by reviewers and bloggers.

Posts after post has been written about this subject. Advice has been given by people much wiser than I. Yet authors continue to make dumb choices, and to be honest, I understand why. They're people. They're people with feelings and egos just like the rest of us, and some of them simply don't consider the fact that when they send their books off to be published it is no longer merely their "baby."

But I don't want to rehash all that. Anyone wishing to know how to deal with negative criticism need merely conduct a simple Google search. The advice is out there. Instead, I want to talk about good author behavior and how it has affected me.

I am very fortunate in that I have yet to meet a bad author. I know many of my blogger friends are not so lucky, which makes me all the more grateful. Every author I have interacted with has been, at the very least, professional and polite, while many go above and beyond that simple benchmark.

I was thinking extra-hard about this topic last week as I drove home from the library. With BEA coming up and review copies eyeing me balefully from every corner of my room, I don't really have time to go requesting extra books from the library, but for these two books I made an exception.

Many of my favorite authors will attend BEA at the end of May, and I sincerely long to meet them all. Also attending are Claire LeGrand and Susan Dennard. Ms. LeGrand is responsible for The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, a delightfully squeamish MG, and Ms. Dennard is responsible for Something Strange & Deadly, a historical YA zombie tale. If you fail to see how this ties into author behavior, just hang on for a minute.

I shouldn't have time to read an MG. I am primarily a YA blogger. I also shouldn't have time to read a zombie YA, as this particular book is one I tried to read over a year ago and stopped, as I was in a funk and couldn't click with the book. But for over a year now, I have followed and interacted with both Ms. LeGrand and Ms. Dennard on Twitter. Though I am just a floating pair of glasses and had not read either of their books, they are both unfailingly polite, personable, and accessible. I have watched, and both have handled their criticisms (both good and bad) with aplomb. No blow-ups, no freak-outs, no tirades.

Good author behavior barely makes a blip on anyone's radar, as it is not nearly as sensational as bad author behavior. Good author behavior is also what is expected. It's like applauding someone for washing their hands before dinner. Washing your hands before eating isn't something out of the ordinary.You just do it. And yet when a person is conscientious, professional, and polite, people notice. I notice. Good author behavior has gained both Ms. Dennard and Ms. LeGrand a personal fan, and I hope to soon upgrade my status to a rabid, book-buying fan. In fact, this last weekend I read Cavendish specifically because I like Ms. LeGrand, and I ADORED the book.

In the same way, I interact with both Jessica Khoury and Amy Tintera. Both are debut authors. Both have written books that I've read and reviewed (Origin and Reboot, respectively). Unfortunately, I disliked/failed to connect with both books. They weren't awful books, but I didn't enjoy myself and don't really plan to read either book again. However, when Ms. Khoury and Ms. Tintera inevitably come out with other books, I will at least feel a spark of interest. Why? Good author behavior. Both ladies are - again - polite, personable, and accessible. To my knowledge, neither are drama queens nor prone to tirades or pity parties (at least not in public). I associate only good things with both their names, and as authors, their names are their brands. As such, I will be more likely to pay attention to their books and talk up their work to my customers, my followers, and my friends.

Good author behavior impacts the bottom line. I'm not saying an author has to be my bestie for me to check out his or her books. However, authors who put themselves out there and unfailingly show their best side to the world will gain a larger following as a result. It doesn't matter how good a book is. If I hear that an author is pulling shenanigans, I won't waste my time or money supporting their endeavors.

So authors, treat people as you would like to be treated, both in person and online. And fellow readers, be sure to celebrate good author behavior. Like well-behaved children, our well-behaved authors plug away and watch as the spotlight passes by to shine (however harshly) on their more diabolical counterparts. If you know an author deserving of a friendly pat on the back, perhaps this is the week to do so. In fact, you can start right here.

If you know of an author that has influenced your reading/buying/following habits with their behavior, tell me in the comments!