I recently stumbled upon a website that features an author’s new published work. And it also features a quote I supposedly gave to subject matter in the book.
This came as a surprise to me.
At first I thought it must be some other person with the same name but after examining the site I recognized the name of the author. I didn’t exactly remember the short line that is used as promotion for this book, but I do know how the author most likely got it. The author is on a writing website I visit. At the site writers give feedback to works that are posted for critique. The site features hundreds of writers, and I’ve reviewed more than a few works on the site. If other writers post for feedback and I have the time and inclination, I’m usually happy to offer a critique, for what it’s worth.
But I have a problem with this.
I’m somewhat upset about the fact that the author did not ask me if he could use the feedback to promote the book. This is what gets me. I don’t really know this person aside from critiquing an excerpt of the work. However, the author could have contacted me through the site to ask before using my name in connection with the promotion. The website is intended to be a helpful space for writers to “meet” one another, get critiqued on their writing, and, if it’s not already published, improve it. I probably wouldn’t have had an objection to the author using the quote, but now I’m a bit upset because I wasn’t asked, wasn’t told, and/or didn’t give an okay beforehand.
When I was preparing the marketing materials for my collection of short stories, professional etiquette was a concern for me. I asked about this type of situation and confirmed what I believed–which is the fact that if you are going to use author quotes to go along with your book, you should ask first if you haven’t already been told that you can get the word out in association with that particular author, etc. And you should be cautious about asking for quotes from long-established authors unless you have been offered the assistance.
It can be difficult for writers crossing over into the business side of marketing and promoting their books to know where the professional lines are and when it’s fine to try something different–I know I’ve stumbled and fumbled in learning how this whole thing works.
But, in my opinion, something like this is simple. Ask and you shall (maybe) receive.
Nancy O. Greene
*EDIT: THE QUOTE HAS SINCE BEEN REMOVED