I finished a terrific book recently and wanted to reach out to the author to say "wow, I really liked your book!"
Maybe boost the signal a bit with a mention of the book on Twitter.
Went to the author's website.
No contact info at all.
No social media links at all.
So, the author doesn't like all that folderol.
I get that.
You just want to write books and be left alone.
I'll leave you alone.
I won't write you a note about how much I liked your book.
And I won't mention you on Twitter.
And I won't use your book as a contest prize.
Harumph harumph harumph.
That was my first (not very adult or thought out) reaction.
Then I thought about the kerfluffle about AJ Finn, the nom du guerre of the writer who was the subject of a rabid take down piece in The New Yorker recently.
I staked out the position in our office discussions that AJ Finn didn't owe his readers a damn thing other than a great book. His various problems with truth-telling either personal or professional weren't really my business. The only reason he found himself in the NYer's crosshairs was he'd had some pretty amazing success with the book.
Needless to say the discussions were rousing and I was SHOCKED to find out several well-respected colleagues didn't agree with me. (smelling salts were required!)
But now, how to reconcile these two things.
If Author Invisible doesn't owe me anything, why am I annoyed he's invisible?
I realized after some thinking, that this kind of annoyance is a very recent thing.
Twenty years ago, when I read a book I liked, I told my friends. And maybe yammered to my publicity clients, or bookstore event planners. It never dawned on me to write a letter to the author's publisher (the only way you could contact authors back in the Paper Era.)
Now with instant communication and everyone hanging out at the CyberSpace Bar and Grill, it's expected we're all reachable. And want to be reached.
Well, clearly, no.
So who am I "showing" with this "I'll show you, you stuck up word wrangler, you" attitude.
It's a good book.
I liked it enough to send it to Laird Barron because it reminded me of his main character Isaiah Coleridge.
And the author doesn't owe me anything because he's already provided the only thing our social contract requires: a good book.