If you’re one of the several dozen people who’s messaged me, specifically to tell me that you don’t like my books, I probably don’t like you. Not because you don’t like my books, but because you’re the kind of person who “gets to know” others by putting them down. You might not intend to hurt my feelings but…what, exactly, do you intend?

Would you walk up to someone in the supermarket, just to tell them they were ugly? That you wouldn’t engage in sexual intercourse with them, even if they were the last person on earth? Would you tell a fellow parent at your child’s school that their child was unworthy of love? Would you tell your colleague at work that his job was less meaningful than yours? I’m guessing no, you would not. Which brings me to my point: why is it okay, therefore, to say something like this to an author?

Are you the kind of person who thinks insulting someone’s life’s work is fun? Because make no mistake: you might not consider writing to be a “real” job, or important at all, but the author in question does. Before you say anything, think: would I want someone to say this, or its equivalent, to me?

A book represents more than months, even years of daily effort. Within those pages is someone else’s soul. And just like any other–usually total–stranger, they probably aren’t asking for feedback. You might, for example, think “that woman’s a dog,” but I doubt very much that she’s asked for an opinion on her attractiveness. Likewise, fairly few authors are looking to hear what’s wrong with their books–especially from, as is almost always the case, people who haven’t read them. You might have an opinion, but kindness is keeping it to yourself.