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The other half of the coin

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 do.

Horse pucky!

Without you, the readers, we’re just dumbass story tellers making up lies and writing them down. Yes, we create worlds and characters, 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 this, 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. He's worked to make his pictures more brilliant, or more in focus, but the eye, that just happened.

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 of story, so those times I don’t have a lot of say about 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 one 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, I'm trying a new thing. I belong to way too many yahoo groups, and there's no way on Earth I can participate fully in all of them. What I've decided to do, is concentrate my time on two or three.

My own, of course at:

The chat group for Total E-Bound called Literagasm:

The other authors of these publishing houses are right there with me, sharing all kinds of crazy fun. There's a little bit of promoting, but very little. This is more for yacking with us and getting to know us. And we get to know and learn about you. We'd love for you to join us.

That's my diatribe for this month. So, readers/fans/blog hoppers/drive bys 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, and yourselves a favor, honestly this would be sooo fantastic, when you read something you really like, gather your courage and let the author know. Whether you belong to the yahoo group or can find his or her email address, tell them what you liked so much. Tell them the name of your favorite book of theirs. Just let them 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, please, please, you readers.


Sam Crescent said...

I agree totally with you Jude. The readers are important. Without them our stories would just be on paper and no need to share them.

Readers wanted.


Anonymous said...

Great post, Jude! Thanks for expressing what so many authors feel.


D. Musgrave said...

I couldn't agree more. Without readers and feedback, writers would never know if they are providing worthwhile content.

Nichelle Gregory said...

Feedback from readers is truly a gift like you said Jude. Before I became a published author, I felt nervous like I'm sure many readers do to reach out to author's whose work I admire so much.

You think to yourself...why would they want to hear from me when they've gotta know how awesome they are already! Well, I soon found out authors are real people with fake names sometimes, but real just the same.

Now that I'm an author, I can tell I've saved all emails from readers who took the time to reach out. It means a lot!

Great post, Jude! I hope your therapy goes well!


widdershins said...

I'm an author and a reader, and I get a great buzz from commenting on blogs. I think it helps to be on the up side of 50 though... thicker skin, less illusions to burst, able to laugh at what used to make me cry/run away.

Maggie Nash said...

Great post Jude...

Yes readers out there...WE NEED YOU!!

c.carney said...

talks about books that they have read it is a great way to discover new authors. I am not sure what holds others back but I think that it feels like being at the dance with all the cool kids standing together and your on the outskirts not sure where or how to jump in.

Ray said...

Great blog. I find that by leaving comments about a book I have read is a great way to find out what an author was thinking if I ask the right questions. I just got an email from an author I have written email and before that snail mail since 1986. She has an adult daughter. I mentioned that as her daughter grows up there is a character who has a daughter about the same age. In one series there was a grandmother, mother and teenage daughter and was that intentional. She answered that I had hit the nail on the head.

I know many authors take suggestions that are just comments in passing and use them in part or in whole so no honest comments are without merit.

I even had two comments by the author mentioned above in a book with attribution. I just had to show friends. I think showing contributed to at least a couple of sales for the author.