An Open Letter to A Favorite Writer’s Son

I got your letter, today.

You know. The one that began with “It’s nice to meet you” and then segued into a list of things you hope I’ll be able to do for you. The one you’ve already sent to so many people that when I googled your name, the word “spam” comes up as a related search.

And by the time I thought to reply, you’d already deleted the Goodreads account you used to send the letter. Apparently, you’ve already been thrown off Goodreads several times.

So, instead of sending you a quick note privately, I’m posting my thoughts here.

It doesn’t matter if your mother was a beloved children’s book author. If you don’t write things that are similar to her books, it won’t help. At best, it’s a footnote to your biographies. This would probably be obvious to you, if she wrote young adult novels, and you wrote physics textbooks.

Let’s be blunt. I would not have followed up, if your mother’s name hadn’t been listed right next to yours on the internet.

Your mother wrote books I loved,when I was eleven. They are wholesome, and not overtly sexual. The target audience is minor children.

You, on the other hand, write not just for an adult audience, but for an audience that clearly celebrates sexuality with enthusiasm. Yes, I’m referring to the fetishized school uniform on the cover of one of your books, and to the title of another: ___(adjective)_______ Perversions.

And I’m sure there are plenty of people–people who would be interested in your books–who see the connection to a YA author highlighted, and pass without a second thought, because they also expect your books to be more like hers.

This is a case where you are pulling in the wrong people, and pushing away the ones who might love your work.

Your scatter gun approach to marketing amazes me. I think every single member of my general-interest group got the same letter, despite vastly different interests, and a website that should–in theory, at least–enable you to engage and build mutually beneficial relationships with pinpoint accuracy.

For instance, a quick glance at my library–even the limited version on my second-favorite reading site–would tell you that virtually all of the books I read about technology are non-fiction. Your technological thriller would fit on my shelf only if it were written by a hacker. Security professional.

How many people did you email before you (or Goodreads) shut down your account? If it’s the group I think it is, that’s probably about two hundred. And of those, how many are your passionate, ideal reader? Probably fewer than if you had taken the time to find a group more focused on what you write.

Here’s the thing. If Google thinks you’re spam, and Goodreads thinks you’re spam… you can bet a living, breathing human being knows you aren’t invested in building your community.

Come on. Even the old lady selling Tupperware puts out a plate of deviled eggs, and builds relationships.

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