Over the past few weeks there have been some interesting discussions on different forums which got me thinking what makes me as a reader not want to read or buy a book by an author. The Book Club Network has had an ongoing discussion about cussing in christian books and then Seekerville had a blog post on social media and I could relate to both.
Firstly swearing in christian books to me is not acceptable. I tried to read a book last year which had one word which is bad in Australia and just could not read it. The word is not an issue in America which explains why it was up for review. As it was a review book I did let the people who sent me the book know why I could not read it and I did put a review as a warning to other Australians explaining in America it was fine but here it was likely to offend Australians. When I saw the book in one of the major bookshops here I did put in a complaint. To check I wasn't over reacting I counted how many times in one chapter the word was used and it was 30. The bookshop was understanding and accepted the complaint. I also made comment in person at the Adelaide bookshop and was happy to see it removed from the shelf. I have since found out that if they get complaints about a book containing swearing or cussing they will remover the book from the shelf. Following the discussion on The Book Club Network and giving my thoughts I agreed with most people that swearing and cussing should not be in a Christian book sold at a Christian bookshop. I also talked to several non christians and they were even more horrified than I was that swearing would be in a christian book. In saying this I have since read a couple of books where I have encountered this issue albeit only a couple of words, it was enough that I spent the rest of the book wondering when the next bomb would be dropped. I have to say it disappoints me to find swearing in books and it also is a reason I will probably not buy future books from the author as I would be worried I would be seeing more swearing.
While the Seekerville post on social media was a positive post alerting authors to the dangers of social media it also made me think of the times as a reader I have read rants about readers by authors on public forums. From posts blaming readers for lack of sales or for being uninformed about certain books, to readers being blasted for a review, to being disrespected for their opinion. I have also read blog posts which call readers ignorant.
On rants about readers not buying books and being uninformed they will turn a reader against the posters very quickly. Authors have a right to there opinions and yes, readers may be annoying etc, but if you want to rant consider using a closed forum where no readers can read the rants or using a writers group. Readers are sensitive and there are so many books out there that if we do get offended we can easily find another author to support. Not all readers read the same books maybe they are not reading an authors book because they do not like the genre.
Being abused for a review is also something that will turn of a reader. A few years ago I read a book I didn't like. It was one of my bottom reads for the year but while looking at the top ten reads for the year from fellow bloggers many had it in their top ten. While it wasn't a book I liked it was a book many others did, does that make me wrong, no it means my opinion is different but it is still as valid. In this incident my opinion wasn't challenged but I have seen posts complaining about a 3 star review with the author blaming the reader for not understanding the book etc. This is a sure way to upset a reader but it doesn't just upset one, that reader tells their friends and they may even blog about it. It could be a potential loss of many readers. From a poll at Goodreads a few years back most readers said they preferred authors did not comment on a review as it feels like big brother and they are being spied on and that they feel they can't give an honest review if the author is going to challenge what they say. (I do not have the link to this survey as the person who shared it didn't save the link).
Also on social media if a reader puts up a question or query about books we are looking for balanced answers. For example how do you feel about edgy Christian books? I am asking to get feedback to see what others are thinking. I have posted questions like this (different questions but still generic) and had an author go on the defensive and state it's their right to write like this and if the reader doesn't like it thats too bad. This will also turn a reader off and to be honest having had it happen to me I lost respect for the author, and as much as I liked her books, do not wish to buy or read anymore at this stage. The question was not aimed at the author or any author and was actually aimed at readers. This is where a friend's 24 hour rule can work if a question or comment upsets you before you post sleep on it and if after 24 hours you still feel really strong about it then tactfully respond or send a private message to the reader. Remember unless they state the book or author they may not be talking about your book at all.
The other huge turn off for readers or this reader when they use places like Facebook to constantly ask you to join their author page or constantly sending a link to buy their new book. I have actually unjoined a few Facebook groups where self promotion seemed to be all that happens and one author seemed to be on every group around and daily sent the link to her book. The book maybe a best seller and the best book ever written but I can guarantee I will never buy it or read it. I have left groups because of this and know other readers who have unfriended people on twitter for the same reason.
On the same issue authors who add you to their mailing list just because you commented on there blog or a blog they are a guest on and you comment so they think they can add you to their mailing list. Readers will join mailing lists to authors they want to receive newsletters from. The same goes for emailing readers to ask them to buy their new book. Letting us know they have a book out (If you are on there emailing list) is fine but to constantly send reminders will have you blocked very quickly and may lose you readers and yes this has happened to me and the few authors in question no longer have a reader in me.
This doesn't even cover things like red herrings in books that go nowhere and leave me after the book is ended trying to work out why we were told the cat went missing but it was never found now I have to know who stole it, is it ok, why did they do that to me. Don't they know I cant sleep until you tell me the cat is alright. (If its not alright I don't want to know). But that will be another post and hopefully by then I will know what happened to the cat.