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Every once in a while I am contacted by an author who saw one of my reviews on Amazon with a request to review their book.  If, after perusing their website or Tweets, they seem like a good fit, I write back that I am happy to oblige.  I usually note any time limits that I have in my reply, along with my process so they know what to expect.  Unfortunately, I realized this lesson in courtesy, fairness, service, let’s just call it generosity, is one that many of us still need to learn.

“John” is a prime example.  He’s an author with a book he wants reviewed, by me, he tells me in his email.  After I respond back in the affirmative, he replies back with a form email (kind of like his initial one to me, to be perfectly honest), without even a “Dear Elizabeth” or any greeting at all.  There was only one sentence: thanks for agreeing to review my book.” and then…the attachment.  All 200 pages of his book in PDF format.  I saw red.  It took me a few minutes to compose a reply.  Here it is:

“Hmmm…if you ask someone the favor of reviewing your book, it would behoove you to send them the actual book instead of a 200 page PDF that they then need to take additional time to print.  “Generosity first and last”, especially if you want something from someone.  Spreading the word about the work that you do is about service (as in serving others), creating a connection and building trust.
Send your PDF on to the next person on your list.  I’m no longer interested.”
And, I hit “send.”
Generosity CountsIt’s worth repeating: be generous.  If you ask a favor of someone, be prepared to be generous about it.  If you can’t be generous, don’t ask.  Generosity isn’t doing someone what you think is a favor. Generosity is figuring out – by asking, taking an informed guess, or using common sense – what someone could use, in their life or business, to make things easier. Especially if you are asking them a favor. It’s serving others with the art that you make: whether that is a book or other tangible product or a service that solves a problem.  Generosity is making it easy for someone to talk you up, spread the word about your awesome skill and become a fan.
Thanks to Bernadette Jiwa, Joan Osofsky and Seth Godin for teaching me these lessons. They always embody generosity.