- Don't send foodstuff in the mail. Yes, authors love tokens of appreciation, but seriously? Don't. Send. Food. (It happens. I am not making this up.)
- Don't send authors your manuscript and ask what they think. The only exception is if they personally ask you to. Between writing, editing and promoting, not to mention the day jobs most of them have to toil at to try and keep body and soul together, writers simply do not have the time to critique your manuscript. In addition to that, many of them are prohibited from doing so in their contracts with agents and publishers in order to avoid "You stole my story!" lawsuits down the line.
- Don't send anything that's invaluable, irreplaceable, or perishable.
- Don't mess up the display in the bookstore to put your pet author's books in a more favourable position. Do not move them to the new release tables. The bookstore managers will be mad at you, and will probably assume you're acting on the instructions of the author. They'll be mad at the author. Authors don't need to be at odds with bookstore managers.
- Don't hesitate to borrow the author's books from the library. How do libraries get copies of the books? They buy them! If an author's books are in demand they are more likely to keep on ordering them in the future.
- Don't sabotage the author's competition. This includes writing nasty Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Goodreads reviews about their books.
- Don't worry if you didn't buy the book directly from the Amazon button on the author's website. While direct sales from the author's site means a commission in her pocket, the amount is so minuscule it really isn't worth sweating over. A sale is a sale, and the big secret is that the actual percentage of books sold by Amazon is shockingly small.
- Don't special order copies of the author's books and then not purchase them. If you don't pick them up the bookstore sends them right back to the publisher who then deducts those sales from the author's royalty statement. He will not thank you for that.
- Don't bug people to buy the author's books. By all means spread the word, but don't be so persistent and insistent that you begin to annoy people if they're not interested. Everyone's taste is different, and pressure to buy or read will very likely turn your quarry away from the author's work. On the other hand, I've bought books that acquaintances recommended casually years after the pertinent conversations.
On September 23rd I'll be discussing what authors can and should do for their readers.