I am surprised at the amount of feedback I received following last week’s Savvy Sunday News, which tells me it struck a nerve. The post was called Good Manners/ Basic Netiquette/or How to Look Like a Pro, and if you missed it, you can read it here.
One reader said, “Right on!!!! Congratulations on a GREAT response in a valuable, helpful way to those who do the ‘big ask’ or even the little ask!!!”
Another said, “This is all valuable advice. I first came across the idea of the emotional bank account through Steven Covey; he cautioned against making a withdrawal before an adequate reserve had been built. Same principle.”
And then there was this one, which leads me toward today’s post:
“I totally understand and agree with the point you are making. But, what if the situation is reversed? For example, what if you agreed with another writer to give a review of their book in exchange for Beta reading with feedback from them? You go ahead and read their book and review it, posting the results on Amazon, Goodreads, and other crucial places. Then wait for their feedback. They send you one or two lines of generic response, and that’s it. It is of no use to you and you feel taken advantage of. Do you say anything to them? (like: “Thanks, but…I expected more”)”
This is such an excellent question, and I have a feeling I am going to hear various responses all week from other readers because a lot of us have run into a similar scenario. (I will happily share some of those responses later, and won’t share your name with your feedback unless you’ve specifically said it’s OK to do so.)
For now, I’ll start with my view on this:
That is very disappointing. To work out an exchange with someone that you fulfill and they renege on is not OK, although it happens. First, you took your valuable time to read the book, give them a glowing review (I assume it was glowing), and you created positive social media posts about them and the book. In return, that person agreed to beta read your book and give you helpful feedback. They obviously did not fulfill their part of the agreement, which is very unfair.
Responding to this appropriately requires some thought because reacting in the moment is almost never the right approach. There are different ways to handle this situation and you have to figure out what is the best for you.
This is what I would do:
- First, I would thank them for their email (the one with the brief, generic response) and for the opportunity to review their (thoughtful, brilliant, sobering, enlightening, or whatever word works here) book.
- Next, I would send them a link to the actual review I did, then links to all the social media mentions I gave them.
- I would give them a rundown on my platform numbers and how many people were exposed to the book, as well as a list of comments I’ve received about them on social media, my blog and anywhere else I posted.
- I would suggest a couple of media outlets they’d be perfect for (but wouldn’t send the contact info, although I might add that I’m close friends with the editors there–if I am, of course.)
- I’d tell them how thrilled I am that they’re going to beta read my book and provide helpful feedback.
- Then I’d ask, “By the way, do you have any idea when I might expect that?” Or I might say, “If you could do this by next Tuesday, it would be so helpful to me,” Adding, “I was delighted to do this for you, and am thrilled you’ll be returning the favor. What a nice exchange we have going. Thank you so much.”
And then I’d leave it at that. Notice I didn’t even entertain the thought that the two generic, pathetic sentences they sent had anything to do with our arrangement. Ignore that.
In other words, you bowl them over with all you have done for them, and then say how excited you are to get whatever they have for you.
Now, one of three things will happen:
- They may ignore you, in which case it may just be a tough lesson learned for you.
- They may write back and point to the two sentences they sent (although less likely. After all, you have just sent them a full report on your efforts.)
- They’re going to write back to let you know when you can expect their thoughts after being sufficiently put on the spot by how amazing you are.
A normal person would want to rectify this situation, quid pro quo. By not pointing out how lame their initial response was, you’re helping them to save face and make good on the deal.
If they ignore you, then cut your losses. You now know a lot more about this person, and I’m sure you won’t be doing anything like this for them in the future. Plus, you now have the opportunity to set up future requests like this in such a way that this never happens to you again.
Let’s face it. Some people just don’t get it. Maybe they’re being calculating and know they’re being a jerk, but I tend to figure they’re just clueless.
Whatever their response, you can write about it in your newsletter and/or blog and let other people know what happened. If they didn’t follow through, you can point out why you should keep your promises, and what to do instead.
I know in this day and age of honesty, authenticity and transparency, lots of people call others out by name. I don’t agree with that approach in most situations. Learn from it and help others to learn not to make the same mistakes. It’s business experience that can become usable content, much like today’s Savvy Sunday News.
My best advice is to get out in front of situations like this as much as possible. That means when you first set up the arrangement, you have to make it very specific and actionable, almost like a contract, but not actually a contract.
You do need to state specifically what each person will do, and the exact date as to when each action will be done. It’s one reason the Amazon Reviewer Campaign I created is so successful. Authors ask people if they’ll write a review for them, and of course they say, “Yes!” but then they get busy, and you ask again. Then you ask again. And eventually you don’t want to ask anymore because it’s just too embarrassing. This campaign gets out in front of that and increases your success rate by 90%. Not bad.
The good news is that 95% of this can easily be rectified by being very clear in your original conversation. State what is expected and by what date and don’t be shy about it. All of this can be said in a very kind and thoughtful way, by the way. It just needs to be very clear.
To your success!
P.S. I am thrilled that so many people feel comfortable enough with me to shoot me their individual questions. I would love to be able to fully answer all of them, but if I do that, I can’t get all my other work done. Therefore, I invite you to post here if you have questions. I am thinking that once a month I may go live on Facebook and answer them all! Let me know if you like that idea.
P.P.S. On another topic, Facebook released a long-awaited feature that lets you see exactly which websites are stalking you — even when you’re not on Facebook. The new “Off-Facebook Activity” tracker spits out a list of the apps and sites that share your activity with Camp Zuckerberg. The platform can see when you visit a website or open an app, or add an item to your shopping cart, just to name a few examples. What should you do? Go here and click on “Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity” to peer into your personal abyss.