Invisible writers

Here is Janet Reid, hitting an emotional reaction that took her by surprise:

I finished a terrific book recently and wanted to reach out to the author to say “wow, I really liked your book!” Maybe boost the signal a bit with a mention of the book on Twitter.

Went to the author’s website.
No contact info at all. No social media links at all.

Ok. So, the author doesn’t like all that folderol. I get that. You just want to write books and be left alone.

Ok. I’ll leave you alone. I won’t write you a note about how much I liked your book. And I won’t mention you on Twitter. And I won’t use your book as a contest prize.

Harumph harumph harumph.

That was my first (not very adult or thought out) reaction …

I realized after some thinking, that this kind of annoyance is a very recent thing. Twenty years ago, when I read a book I liked, I told my friends. And maybe yammered to my publicity clients, or bookstore event planners. It never dawned on me to write a letter to the author’s publisher (the only way you could contact authors back in the Paper Era.)

Now with instant communication and everyone hanging out at the CyberSpace Bar and Grill, it’s expected we’re all reachable. And want to be reached.

Well, clearly, no. …

It’s a good book.

And then she shows it to her blog readers: Bearskin by McLaughlan, which looks possibly pretty good. A thriller involving poaching in Appalachia, I gather.

But this is an interesting reaction!

Now, when I finish a book I really loved by a new-to-me author, I do sometimes search for that author on Twitter and say I really liked it. Or if I write a review (very likely for any book I love), then I send them a @ on Twitter to let them know.

But if the author isn’t on Twitter, that’s it. I don’t feel annoyed because the author is unreachable, because (a) a glance at Twitter is the full extent of my efforts to locate the author; and (b) it has never occurred to me to be offended if an author is a little difficult to track down.

Is this because I’m a little older and also clearly remember the days when the only way to contact an author was to write to the publisher?

Or because I’m just so introverted that it doesn’t occur to me to make a big effort to track someone down, far less feel offended if they’re not readily contactable?

I’m now curious: do you routinely feel like you ought to contact the author of a great book at all? And would you feel even momentarily annoyed if that author was not easily locatable on social media?

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7 thoughts on “Invisible writers”

  1. Angry if I can’t reach a writer?? I’m still excited when writers have blogs I can comment on, and beyond thrilled if they actually respond to my comments! (I think I’m definitely part of that older generation!)

  2. My comment is more to wonder if authors like to be contacted by their readers when they’re written a great book. Sometimes I wish I could tell an author every time I love their book. In the old days I used to hand write letters to their publishers to tell them so. I find it nice that I can email or use twitter, but definitely would not be angry if I could not!

  3. Yen, I promise you, I am always VERY HAPPY to hear that a reader loved one of my books. It gives me a huge lift, every single time. Every other writer I know feels the same way.

    But every now and then I do hear of an author blowing off a fan with a grouchy don’t-bother-me type of response. I find this completely incomprehensible. Those authors should certainly zero out their online presence so they and their fans don’t inflict themselves on each other.

    Kim, I wonder if an agent doesn’t start to feel more like of-course-all-authors-should-be-reachable — much more so than a reader might. But you can see Janet caught herself up pretty briskly when she realized she felt that way.

  4. I don’t have the urge to tell an author that I liked their book. (I may have met people who’ve written books I like, but I still tend to think of authors as distant, uncontactable figures from another country, who may not actually be real.)
    But I will try to find what else they’ve written, is it in a series, are there connections between books, WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK COMING OUT PLEASE TELL ME THERE WILL BE ANOTHER ONE, and it’s very annoying to find a neglected website that doesn’t have any up-to-date information on it.
    I get that blogging is hard, and talking to people sucks, and social media is blerrghhk, but this is basic marketing! Ggrrhhh!!!


    Okay, yes, I have to agree, when I can’t find this information, it’s a real disappointment. Or sometimes when the website indicates another book is on the way, but it’s been years? And you think, Do you mean REALLY on the way, or was that just a good intention back in 2016? Very frustrating when you can’t tell.

  6. I don’t really care whether an author has as a web presence or not, and certainly social media can be a huge distraction. I do appreciate author blogs, however, even ones with rare updates. That said, I truly don’t understand why an author would keep an out of date publications web site live. That seems particularly counterproductive.

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