This topic came up on one of the many yahoo lists I belong to and it really touched me. How often has a reader told me they lurk because they don’t feel important enough to post a message or comment on something an author has shared?
Oh my god!
I could cry when I hear it, or even think it. In some distant tiny part of myself, I can identify with that feeling of uncertainty. I mean if Stephan King walked in the door I’d possibly faint. But, I can almost guarantee he’d say the same thing I would.
Without you, the readers, we’re just dumbass writers making up lies and writing them down. Yes, we create stories, and yes we do try to get them to sound beautiful or tragic or sexy, but we do it for you. I can’t say that without you, I’d stop telling my little lies, but I can tell you, without you, it just seems so damn lonely and pointless.
Look, everyone has a gift. I believe everyone also has some form of deformity or handicap too, but that’s a whole nuther post. My gift is imagination. What’s yours? My husband has an amazing eye for wildlife photography. The pictures he shows me often take my breath. Like me, his gift isn’t something he worked for or deserves, it’s just there.
Now, if you, my reader, like a certain thing I’ve written, how will I know unless you tell me? If you despise something, the same is true. I continue to write, and do a lot of praying in the process that someone will like what I come up with.
The odd time, and I can count those times on my fingers, a reader will send me an email. It’s like a gift has been delivered. I’m almost afraid to respond to them for fear of scaring them off. I have heard that readers are afraid of us. It seems crazy that someone would be afraid, or feel less important than me. I mean, if you could see me now, scruffy sweats and slippers, my hair sticking out all over and me chewing on my lip, you’d laugh at the very idea that this woman could be ‘all that’.
I treasure those emails, few though they are. They are all I have to go on when it comes to what readers want. I’ve been told I write too short…I’m working on that all the time. Calls for submission often call for a certain length, so those times I don’t have a lot of say in the word count. But, when I get going on my own, I try very hard to take those words into account. Too short, readers like paranormal and they also seem to like series’. What other things, alpha males. I got that bit of info from my newsletter contest last month. Even when I’m writing m/m, one of the m’s should be more gung ho and bossy than the other. Yup, I can do that.
The yahoo groups I belong to are a perfect example of authors desperate for input. Take one of the publisher organized chats. Add a dozen authors eager to share their blurbs and excerpts for new releases and you’ve got the makings of some great fun. Some of those yahoo groups have thousands of members, others have hundreds. Yet, chances are, when there’s an organized chat, there will be possibly a dozen comments by non-authors. I’ve seen authors literally pounce on the poor person. A feeding frenzy of desire to please, and that scares the reader off. I know it does. The others do too. But, it’s such a hunger to know what this brave brazen soul likes that we just can’t help ourselves.
So, readers/fans please, you are the other half of our coin. We know you’re out there, someone’s buying those books, and we can hear you breathing… heavily! Do us a favor, honestly this would be sooo fantastic, when you read something you really like, gather your courage and send the author a short note. Tell her, or him, what you liked so much. The next time you’re in one of those yahoo chats, and your favorite author makes an appearance, let her know. Tell her the name of your favorite book of hers. Just let her know you’re there. And, if you hate something, let us know that too, or we’re liable to do it again and again, and that would just suck.
Thanks so much for listening. I’d love to get comments on this, from both other authors and yes, you readers.
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*Jude Mason – Readers needed: Come, explore with me…if you dare*