Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Email to authors, and author myths

I was talking with Amanda this morning about possible blog topics, and she suggested a fantastic one: email correspondence with authors. So I decided to blog on this, plus dispel a few author myths while I was at it.

I can't say I've had a lot of author email correspondence yet--my books don't start rolling out until December. The most interaction I've had so far are people asking me for ARCs (advanced reader copies, which are a bound version of the book that's not the final version). I mean, TONS of people asking for them. It's obviously flattering in a way--someone wants to read my book and review it! How cool is that? But in another way, it's like hey, I'd like people to actually BUY it when it comes out. LOL. I do take all those requests so I can forward them to my publisher, who can vet through them and decide where to send review copies.

Also, recently, I got email from a person I've never met asking if they could be on my cover--since they figured I had pull with my publisher, I could hook that up for them. Or, if not, then I could use their full name as a character in my book. I haven't responded to this request--I'm not really sure what to say...and frankly, I'm a little surprised someone I don't know would email me and ask me to do something like that. LOL

So, please allow me to dispel a few author myths:

1--authors don't have an infinite bounty of ARCs on hand to dole out. Some people may get 1-2 ARCs, and that's it. And even if we DID get a lot of ARCs, we probably have already slated where we want them to go. So reviewers, please, please think carefully before asking the author for an ARC--and if you do, please make sure you're established and can/will actually review the book. Authors don't want to waste their copies sending to people whose only goal was to get a free book and who never even does a review of it.

2--authors don't get lots of our own books for free from the publisher. Our contract may stipulate that we get a few free copies after they come out, but for more, we have to pay for them. If we buy in bulk, we can get discounts through certain places, but we still spend OUR money to buy our own books. So please don't ask us for a free copy of our book...we don't make $$ that way! I wouldn't go to my dentist and ask for free fillings, yanno. haha.

3--authors don't have pull with our publishers over covers. What we get is what we get, usually. We may be able to request some tweaks, especially if we can back up the request with solid evidence (e.g., our heroine is blonde, but our cover's heroine has black hair). But generally, it's out of our hands. The publisher uses market research and artists to create the covers. Authors have nothing to do with it. Covers are meant to sell books, period.

4--please don't offer us your ideas for a novel and then ask to split it 50/50. Most authors have more ideas than they can even write in a lifetime...besides, take that brilliant idea and write it yourself. That way, you get ALL the $$! :D

5--naming characters after real people may be an invitation for a lawsuit. haha. I hate to say it that way, but fiction is supposed to be fiction...and if I name a character after you, what if you HATE the person I've given your name to? Are you going to take me to court over it and say I'm slandering your name? I just can't risk that.

6--sometimes, typos and weird stuff make it into the book that are out of our control. We do get pages to review, but mistakes happen during typesetting. I know someone whose book looked perfectly wonderful all throughout the review steps...but when the final copies came out, all italics were gone. This wasn't a problem at any stage during the process--but it goes to show that funkatitis mistakes can happen. So please don't assume the author or editor is necessarily at fault for that.

Okay, now it's your turn. What interesting/unusual correspondence have you guys received, either as an author or just in general?

Are there any myths you'd like to dispel: either about being an author or about whatever your line of work is?

Share with us! :D


  1. Amanda Brice10:37 AM

    I don't have any interesting correspondence to share other than random Facebook messages from men from other countries who have friended my author persona and then continuously PM me several times a week asking why I haven't written back.

    But here's one. Readers, if you friend an author on Facebook, the author wants to network with you but doesn't want to be your best friend. They're not looking for a romantic relationship with you either.

  2. Thanks for posting that, Rhonda.

    When I was doing a review magazine I used to actually hesitate to take an ARC. If I'd hated the book or not been able to get one of my reviewers to take it... talk about feeling bad.

    I wish we did have more control over covers. :(

  3. I once had a reader who was too impatient for the sequel to a book and emailed me asking if I could email her the unedited, unpublished manuscript in full because there was just no way she could wait for it to be published. LOL

  4. Great post, Rhonda! I think you've covered the topic excellently.

  5. Funkatitis! You are so full of win!

  6. Very good post - still slightly stunned someone asked if they could be on your cover...

    Ahem - I did contact RJA to ask her who to speak to at her publishers for a copy of Knife to review and she kindly put me in touch with the correct person - which was lovely, kind and considerate. I was very pleased.

    I have subsequently gone and bought a copy to give away on the site - I try to do that - a lot of things I give away on the site, I buy in to give away and sometimes, publishers are happy to give tonnes away. So there is a fine line between asking / buying.

    This is an excellent post - thanks for putting it up!

  7. Over the past few years I've received some great emails from readers. None unusual. But at least two or three have pleaded "If you make this a movie, can I be in it." It's cute, but I'm thinking I need an FAQ on the site letting folks know what control I have over such things *ahem* none!

    I'd really really like either for the myth that all authors are rich, go away or I'd like to BE rich so it's no longer a myth.

    Can someone make that happen? :-)

  8. Awesome post. I hate mentioning that I'm a writer (unpublished as of yet) because they always have all sorts of strange requests. I had a hairdresser ask me to put her into my book. I mean, I didn't even KNOW her but she seriously wanted me to put her in my fantasy book. I'm sorry, I don't think my fantasy novel has much room for a hairdresser.

    I have learned to smile and say "Sorry, I can't." They may get disappointed but they'll get over it really quick and forget about it the next day.

    People are strange, though. I get similar requests when they see me knit. WTF, no free socks for anyone, especially me!

  9. I've had a few interesting ones:
    a) going into great gory detail about how my books have enhanced their um 'intimate' life.

    b) that I should make a movie and here is the cast list.

    c) that I have got the ending completely wrong and this is how it should've been written.

    d) emails asking after the characters as if they are real people-seriously.

    I've also had a couple of people tell me I will burn in hell and that they will pray for me- which is reassuring.

    The strangest thing overall is that a lot of readers don't realize how little control you have over the whole process and expect you to be able to do stuff that is totally out of your control. I always feel bad breaking that bubble. LOL

  10. Thanks for the great comments, you guys! :D

  11. Anonymous2:36 PM

    I wish I had $100 for each person who has asked me to include them in my book. (In this economy, a nickel just isn't enough.) I have tried to discourage these requests by suggesting the most unsavory characters to give their names to. It never works. Even the gay prostitute who wears a magenta feather boa "sounds cool if I could get my name in your book."

    And I'm with Paula. All writers should be fabulously wealthy.

  12. ps--I'd like to make sure people know that I looooove reviewers...this has nothing to do with legit reviewers wanting to review a book! :D

  13. My only minor frustration when my (first, and so far only) book came out was one reader who read only a couple chapters and then reviewed it on Amazon, pointing out "historical errors" (which weren't errors -- she wasn't reading it carefully and was basing what she said on the back cover). Sigh. But to more than balance it out, very nice people I never met said wonderful things about my book on Amazon, so my experience was really very positive!

    I did have to give the "free book" explanation sometimes, but that was to friends and relatives. And when I explained that instead of having hundreds of free books to give anyone who was vaguely interested, I had almost none (and those I was contractually obligated to use for promotional purposes), they understood.

  14. I don't even ask my friends for free books--much less authors I don't even know.

  15. Can I be on the cover?! That is both hilarious and disturbing.