I've seen some disturbing things on social media lately. Lots of BAD advice is being thrown about. Readers are doing things to authors that will NOT end well. The publishing business is really hard, and it's stuff like THIS that might throw a romance author over the edge and make them stop writing at all:
Tag them in bad reviews on social media
Don't get me wrong on this one. I'm not saying you can't leave bad reviews for books you didn't like. In fact, I totally think you SHOULD leave reviews for books you don't like, because reviews are for readers, not authors. And you should also feel free to talk about the bad book on social media. But what you shouldn't do is tag the author while you talk about how much you hated their work. It's rude and unnecessarily hurtful. There are a ton of authors who never read their reviews because the negative feedback hurts their soul. And that's OK. But by tagging them on social media, you're pretty much forcing them to read your negative review. You're rubbing their nose in it, delighting in their pain. What's the point of that? It'd be like if I sent out a tweet talking about how ugly your kid is and tagged you. (That was just an example by the way. I'm sure your kid is adorable.) Long-story-short: just don't do it.
In the name of full disclosure, I made this mistake once when I first started the blog. It was an accident, and I apologized, but I still feel bad about it to this day. So, if you've made this same mistake, don't stress out about it too much. What's done is done. Just don't do it again, yeah?
Email them all the reasons why you hate their book
I can't believe I even have to explain this one, but if you don't like a book, leave a bad review. Don't email the author and tell them how much you didn't like their work. What would you even hope to gain from that? Do you expect them to apologize? To change the way they write because one reader didn't care for something? Guarantee you they won't do either. It's rude--really no better than tagging an author in a bad review on social media--and it's a waste of your time. It's a lose-lose behavior and it must be stopped posthaste.
Pirate their work
Book thieves suck and there is no valid excuse for stealing someone's hard work. If you can't afford to buy books, go to the library, or sign up for BookBub and Netgalley and Booksprout and any of the other million sites that let you get free books from authors who have AGREED to give them away. I'm a firm believer that there is a special spot in hell for book thieves. Don't end up there.
Report errors to Amazon
The Kindle has a lovely new feature (and by "lovely" I mean "horrific") that allows you to report errors you find in books to Amazon. This is a bad idea and a slippery slope. Here's why:
1. Bad idea: If readers report enough of these errors, an author can have their book removed from Amazon altogether. Who would that serve? Trust me when I say that there are going to be errors in every book on the market. Why? Because they're edited by humans. Humans aren't infallible. Even the best, highest-paid editors miss a typo or two in a full-length novel. I get that it hurts a grammar nerd's heart to see errors. But if you can't make like Elsa and Let It Go, consider sending a nice, polite email to the author outlining the errors and let THEM, NOT AMAZON, make the determination if they want make corrections.
2. Slippery slope: Sometimes what a reader thinks is an error is actually a stylistic choice that the author made. If authors are forced to make every change that every reader suggests, we're going to end up with a bunch of stories that are written by committee. Disney tried that with The Rise of Skywalker and it pretty much ended in disaster (and LOTS of crappy reviews). Let us all learn from the errors of Disney and that stupid, misogynistic dumpster fire of a movie, shall we? (#BenSoloDeservedBetter, #ReySkywalkerIsALoadOfCrap, #EffYouJJAbrams, #WhereIsRose, #BringBackRianJohnson)
Long-story-short: Most readers aren't professional editors. Why do work you haven't been asked to do, or paid to do?
Accept ARC copies in exchange for review...then not review
Authors can't force you to leave reviews, even when they provide you with an ARC (advance reader copy) in the hopes that you'll leave a review. It's against Amazon's TOS (terms of service). BUT, come on...we all know that you're supposed to leave a review if you take the ARC. It's the whole point of an ARC in the first place!! Taking the free book and not doing that one, tiny little favor for the author is a dick move. Don't be a dick.
Ask them where to find their books for free or on sale
Again, can't believe I have to say this, but emailing an author and asking them where you might find a copy of their book on the cheap or free is...awful. Authors work months, sometimes years on their books, and you want them to also do the hard work of finding a cheap or free copy for you? That would make you an entitled jerk. Don't be an entitled jerk. Either pay the author the asking price for their book, get it from the library, ask Amazon to let you know when there's a sale, or read something else. Those are all acceptable alternatives to jackassery.
Same goes for emailing the author and just flat-out asking them to send you a free signed copy. Authors have to pay for those printed copies. The LEAST you can do is pay for the book you want them sign, and provide a postage-paid envelope for them to send it to you in.
Long-story-short: Authors deserve to be paid for their work. They deserve to be paid the price of their choosing. That is all.
The info above pretty much applies to all authors. But there are a few specific-to-romance-author no-no's that I'd like to point out:
1. Upon hearing that someone writes romance, DON'T say, "Oh...you mean like Fifty Shades and Twilight?" There are other romance novels on the market, believe it or not. This question just announces your ignorance of the genre and will make most romance authors quietly seethe.
2. DON'T bring up Fabio. Yes, he was on a lot of covers. That was, like, 20 years ago. Let the poor man rest, for crap's sake.
3. DON'T say "bodice ripper" or "mommy porn" These are derogatory terms that, once again, announce your ignorance of the genre.
4. DON'T ask a romance author (with a nudge-nudge and a wink-wink) if they "research" their sex scenes with their significant other. This is intrusive and gross and frankly a little creepy.
5. DON'T say romance novels are "smut" or "porn". Having a sex scene doesn't make a book smutty porn. There are plenty of sex scenes in books in other genres, but only romance novels get these particular labels. Why is that? Is it because they're mostly written by women for women? Hmmm...that one stinks of misogyny, doesn't it? Think about it. I'll wait.
6. DON'T say you think romance novels don't need happy endings because you just love Nicholas Sparks, and his endings are sad sometimes. First of all, the only real rule in a romance novel is that there MUST be a HEA ending (or a Happy For Now ending). Second of all, Nicholas Sparks is NOT a romance novelist. His stories are love stories, not romance novels. There IS a difference. He even outlines that on his own website. But, the moral of the story here is NO HAPPY ENDING = NOT A ROMANCE NOVEL.
7. DON'T call romance novels your "guilty pleasure". There's nothing to feel guilty about. Be a proud romance reader! It's a billion dollar industry. You're in good company.
8. DON'T call the sex scenes in romance novels "the good parts." There's a lot more to romance novels than the sex scenes, and boiling an entire book down to a few sex scenes is insulting to the author.
I think that's about it for now. I'm sure more stuff will come up next week. But what about you? Do you see anything I left out? Let's discuss!