Tell authors you like their work

I think you should let an author know when you like their work. Here’s why.

When I review a book, I always post my review on Twitter, and very occasionally I’ll tag the author (if I’ve really enjoyed the book). I’m not under any illusions that they’ll actually read my review – they’re busy people who probably get tagged in lots of things every day – but maybe they will and maybe it will give them a little boost. Of course, if you do this, they might even like your Tweet, and it’s very exciting to feel that tiny connection with someone you respect.

I also think it’s important to spread positivity. Often, people won’t hesitate to take to a public platform to complain about something. It’s human nature and I know I’ve done it myself. But equally I think these platforms should be used to celebrate things, to champion people and their work, and to spread the word about things you love. As a writer myself, I always get a thrill when someone says they liked something I wrote, so I think any opportunity to pass that feeling on has to be a good thing.

Tell authors you like their work
An email from Horatio Clare.

Of course, very occasionally the writer will actually reach out to you to talk about what you wrote. I’ve had this happen to me a couple of times, and let me tell you, there’s nothing more exciting than getting an email and realising it’s from one of your favourite authors. This gives you the chance to have a slightly more in-depth conversation with them (but don’t go overboard; just one or two replies will do!). Maybe you can mention what their work means to you, or what you plan to read of theirs next. I really appreciate any author who takes the time to contact me personally – they don’t have to do it, but just a quick email will guarantee that I’m a fan of theirs forever!

There is a caveat to this, though. While I encourage you to tell authors that you loved their work, because of the warm fuzzies it will give you both, I implore you not to do it if you didn’t like their work. Usually I won’t tag an author if I’ve made even a small criticism in my review, even if the rest of it is absolutely gushing, because nobody needs someone popping up in their news feed with totally unasked-for criticism. Author Ann Leckie has talked about this a lot on Twitter and I agree with her: tagging someone in a negative review is a dick move. If you hated the book, it’s OK to discuss your thoughts on your own platforms, but don’t barge into theirs to do the same. It’s just rude.

tell authors you like their work
An email from Michel Faber.

With all this in mind, here’s something I’ve recently resolved to do: share my positive thoughts with everyone. So far I’ve only let well-known, established authors know that I liked their work, because that’s what I tend to read and review on my blog. But there are countless other smaller authors out there, writing and submitting to magazines and websites, whose work I read all the time and never respond to. No, I’m probably not going to review every short story I read on this blog (although maybe I could?), but the least I can do, if one jumps out at me as being particularly brilliant, is contact the author and tell them. It would take me hardly any time at all, and it could make a huge difference to someone who is struggling, or just starting out, or who simply needs a boost like we all do now and again.

So this is my rallying cry: tell authors you like their work! And not just authors, but musicians and artists and crafters and… anyone you can think of! If we all start doing this, I think we can make the world a slightly happier place.

Image result for group hug gif

Have you ever told an author you love their work? Did they respond? Let me know with a comment down below!

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