Recently I’ve read some articles on supposed do’s and don’ts for readers, telling them how they should treat writers. (Among these: do support authors by writing positive customer reviews; don’t criticize or correct authors when interacting online. Unsurprisingly, these articles tend to be written by writers.) Here’s what I think.
For readers: how to treat writers
DO: Buy books. Borrow books. Check them out of the library. Read them. Share them.
DON’T: Steal an author’s work.
If readers feel inspired to talk about a book, or to leave customer reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, that’s wonderful. Authors truly appreciate it. But for a reader to go that extra mile is a generous gesture, not an obligation.
For writers: how to treat readers
DON’T: Argue with readers over their opinion of your work.
DO: Treat readers with respect. Honor them. Do that by writing the best damn books you can. Learn your craft. Study language and story and your deepest heart. Pour that onto the page. Polish your work until it shines like an exploding star.
Then, if someone tells you they’ve read your work, say thank you.
Everything else falls under the Golden Rule. Readers and writers: treat each other the way you’d like to be treated.