Monday, July 17, 2017

Your contact page

Recently I was skulking around the contact page of an author.
I was looking for the name of the author's agent.
It was nowhere to be found.

No problem. Most readers aren't looking for that info and not listing it might be the agent's choice.
But, what was a problem was how prickly the tone of the "Contact me" page was.

It was overtly hostile to any writer wanting to make contact.
It was ice cold to any reader.
And everyone else could just go to hell.


Take a look at your contact page.
(You have one, right?)

Does it have the words "thank you" anywhere?
Does it have the phrase "I'm glad to hear from readers" or some approximation thereof?

If you're not able to blurb other author's books, do you phrase it with any kind of apology or regret (even if you aren't apologetic or regretful?)

I purposely did not buy the book this author wrote because I was so put off by the tone of this page.

I realize that many writers get blurb requests or personal favor requests they can't or don't want to agree to.  I know that eye roll of annoyance when those requests roll in. (Let's all remember I see queries from people who wouldn't know a submission guideline if it arrived gift wrapped.)

That's the cost of doing business these days.
Have a form letter ready to deal with those requests, or at least observe the social niceties by saying "I'm sorry I can't blurb any books right now."

I like to support writers, even those I don't represent.
But I'll be damned if I'll give hard earned money to someone who seems to disdain reader contact as an annoyance one must put up with.

If you want an example of a contact page that does it right, look no further than blog reader Donnaeve.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Oh come on now, is it any surprise that 'our' Donna is a pro?
That girl has got it !

Colin Smith said...

Of course Donna does it right! She's a Southern lady, polite and gracious to the max. :D

And this post is a good springboard to remind fellow blog-dwellers to make sure their Blogger Profile contact details are present and correct. You never know when a Shark may come a-calling. Also, if you want to be added to the List of Blog Readers and their Blogs, just drop me an email with your name as it appears in the comments, and the social media site(s) you want listed. See the List for examples. And you know where my contact info is... :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

So if and when I am published, I will simply ping Donna:)

Theresa said...

Just went and spiffed up the "About" section on my blog. Thanks for the reminder, Janet!

MA Hudson said...

Donna's definitely got it happening - great website, great blog, and great books. Entertaining, welcoming, and inspirational.

Am curious about the author Janet was checking out. Were they so successful already that they could afford to treat their readers like annoying pests? Or were they deluded, self-aggrandising wannabe's? Either way, rudeness and unfriendliness is out of order. Very off-putting.

Susan Bonifant said...

Class and gratitude - the ultimate power couple. So glad Donna has been recognized for these and her other gracious talents. Yes, a great example of how-to!

CynthiaMc said...

Our Miss Donna is a class act all the way.

There are authors I used to love and no longer read because of the way they treat their fans. I no longer buy their books as gifts. I don't bad mouth them, but I no longer support or recommend d them.

If I ever become rich and famous and act like that, I expect every one of y'all to set me straight.

Unknown said...

We writers spend so much time trying to sign with an agent and then someone doesn't put that info on his/her/their website????? I was so happy the day I finally got to add "rep'd by" to my Twitter bio and blog. Not even multimillion dollar worldwide bestsellers will change me into the type of person who doesn't appreciate her agent enough to have his name everywhere. If any publishers want to test me on this, feel free to contact my agent.

Unknown said...

Wondering why an agent might CHOOSE not to be on the author's website.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Yes, I (heart) our Donna.

I've bundled my books into the sanctuary website. Wonder if I need to explore a separate author site.

BJ Muntain said...

I need to update my blog, but I think I might just do a major overhaul after reading Your Book, Your Brand (thank you, Janet!)

Since I have no books published, no one is trying to get hold of me for anything, so my 'contact' info is simply the words 'you can reach me here' with an e-mail link. (No one has ever used it.) But that will probably change with the overhaul.

Mary said...

Uh-oh. Better check mine. Under the advice of my webmaster I don't allow comments on my site and I still get bulk emails from web developers telling me how much they could do for me for a fee. I'd be interested to know what other authors do. I would like to allow comments on my blog posts, but don't have the time to wade through spam.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

My contact page just has method and email/web addy listed. I didn't know we were supposed to be friendly!


*frantically heads towards Donnaeve's reader to get tips*

Ardenwolfe said...

Must admit, this also surprised me when I did research. When I emailed questions only one author responded and he was awesome about it - Stan Nicholls.

Also, I've written many authors when I wanted to praise their books, Again, only one ever responded - Celeste Ng who was incredibly kind.

Otherwise, crickets from everyone else. Needless-to-say, I'll buy all their future book immediately.

Politeness and professionalism go a long way.

Lennon Faris said...

Strange. Maybe this author was going for a 'salty' feel? Sometimes brands do that nowadays to stick out from the social norm.

Probably not though... there's usually a bit of humor attached to that method.

And, way to go, Donna!!

Julie said...

1. Donna is smoooooth.
2. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, EVERYTHING in this life is professional. There's no room for rudeness. Everyone's a potential client or contact or customer - or knows one. Besides which, why would one OPT to be anything but Ms./Mr. Polite?

How many of us have bought books simply BECAUSE we knew the author and wanted to do them a good turn? This is going the opposite way.

Janet's right. Zowie.

Panda in Chief said...

I got nervous that I had been rude or dismissive on my "Contact Us" page, but, whew! That's just fine, in a fuzzy panda satire sort of way. The "About me" page is somewhat out of date and I need to update that! It's on this weeks to do list now.

Of COURSE Donna did it right.
Happy Monday, everyone!

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

My contact page is labeled "How to contact me/Where to find my writing" and I also have (or had, on my phone and can't remember) my email address in my bio sidebar thing. I find it frustrating when that info is missing or deeply hidden.

Unless somebody didn't want to be contacted, and I guess that's their choice.

Claire Bobrow said...

Very good point. Politeness and respect are always winners. Thanks for raising this issue, Janet, and providing us with a stellar example of how to do it right (yay, Donna!).

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I also scuttled to my website to check it out. A bit of work done now.

And it's always good to have a shining example pointed out for us woodland critters! Thank you, Donnaeve!

Theresa said...

Donna's whole website is lovely!

Mary, I do allow comments that I approve before they are posted. I may be tempting fate by mentioning this, but I haven't had to deal with much spam at all.

Steve Stubbs said...

Wow, who is this author? That sounds like a contact page I would like to check out.

And thanks for the heads up on Donna Eve.

Off topic, Heads up to all fans of the zombie genre: The news has just been released that George Romero - of THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and other less known movies about the dead - is dead.

He was 77, but I found that shocking since it seems premature. Martin Landau, who also died, made it to 89.

Megan V said...

Way to go Donna!

And I'm very curious about what author would have a contact page like that.

Beth Carpenter said...

Of course Donna's contact page is friendly; it's a reflection of her. I'll bet her book club presentations are fascinating.

I have open comments on my website and have encountered minimal spam, possibly because few people wander out that far other than Russion spy-bots and they don't leave comments.

Jen said...

Yikes! Gotta go make sure my contact page isn't giving the wrong impression!

Beautiful website Donna. :-)

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Had a look at mine. It's simple and business-like. Certainly not off-putting, but there was very little personal on there.

Am currently added an extra layer of genteel politeness, as would make my Southern-born mother and all my Appalachian kinfolk proud.

I will say that after you've sent me a contact or signed up for my quarterly newsletter, I do redirect you to a brief little thank you page. (Even that could be improved.)

Donna's is all class.

John Davis Frain said...

No surprise that Donna is the shining example of a proper website. If it's open 24/7, I'm gonna pop over and check it out. Hopefully there won't be a long line at this hour, but I'm bringing reading material just in case I have to wait.

Mom always said nothing good happens after midnight. I'm about to prove her wrong.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Also, why would an author not list their agent? I would be interested in knowing the reasons behind that.

Believe me, when I get an agent, I will definitely put up "Represented by SuperAgent of the SuperAgency."

Meanwhile, would it be too snarky to say, "Not represented by Janet Reid"?


Gabriela Pereira said...

Such a great post, Janet!

I'd like to add one thing: as someone who regularly interviews authors on my podcast it's frustrating to dig around an author website because the contact page is hard to find. I'm also not a fan of the contact form because it often gives the sender no record of having sent the message and who knows if the email will actually reach a person or get lost. Personally, if it takes longer than a few minutes to find the contact info or if there's a contact form, I simply have to move on. Time is just too precious.

I get that authors want to maintain their privacy, but it boggles my mind when they make it hard for the press to reach them. If you don't want to put your email address on your site, create a catch-all alias like info@____ and have it forward to your regular email or to an assistant. You can even set up most email programs to filter those messages directly into a folder so your inbox doesn't overflow. This accomplishes the same result, but puts up fewer barriers for when you *do* want someone to reach you (like for an interview or other opportunity).