I received an email recently from a self-published author with a description of his book and a link to where I could buy it. I had never met the man, and the email was generic, so it was obvious that he was spamming a lot of people with the same message.
I replied politely, asking him if he had read (or even bought) my books. He replied sheepishly that he hadn't, and I never heard from him again. Big surprise there.
I decided to blog about the incident because it wasn't the first time something like that had happened to me. Over the years, I've received many emails from authors with similar requests. I've also received many emails from aspiring authors asking me to read their entire manuscripts and provide feedback, for free. When I reply asking if they've read my books, their answer is always no.
The following may sound like common sense to most of you reading this, but apparently it's not to a lot of other people out there, so I'm going to say it here: If you're going to ask authors who are complete strangers to buy or read your books, you'd better buy theirs first.
There's nothing wrong with trying to generate interest in your book by reaching out to potential readers. In fact, I encourage it. But if those potential readers are also authors, you've got to put yourself in their shoes before hitting "send." Authors make their money by selling books, so it's only courteous to buy one before asking them for help. If their book isn't up your alley, buy one and give it to a friend. Just buy one. Then send an email that begins with "Hey, I just bought your book..."
If you use a give-and-take approach, I guarantee you'll have better luck getting a positive response.
Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2012 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.