Readers, what do authors want from you? Ha, that’s an open-ended question isn’t it?
I bet you answered “to buy all your books.” Yes, that’s true. Most of us desire to make a living from our writing, not so much to be stinking rich but enough that we can make writing our full-time career. That’s a win for readers too, since we can write more books.
You may also have said “to write awesome 5-star reviews.” Yes, please. I’ve spoken about reviews before, and we all know that lots of good reviews sell more books.
By now, you’re thinking more like an author and might offer “to promote your books and tell all our friends.” Ding. Ten points! Word of mouth is much more powerful than even reviews. Reviews are the opinion of strangers. When you recommend a book in person, that endorsement carries significant weight because you (presumably) know what your friends like to read. How often do you not read a book when your BFF tells you “OMG, you just have to read this. I stayed up all night to finish it!” Authors dream of readers becoming such passionate advocates of our books.
Taking these three points as a given, what authors really want from readers is feedback and comments. Note that this doesn’t mean flattery and singing our praises because our latest book is “a complete masterpiece”. It means honest, down-to-earth and personal contact. You see, most writers don’t write to be rich or famous, we write because we want people to enjoy our stories. Hearing from readers is the high point of our days. A good review is nice, as is a post on Facebook or a tweet about liking one of our books. Even better is a personal message, a comment on our web sites or an email. Obviously I can’t speak for all authors here, since some don’t like to approached in such an intimate form as an email, but many of us love it. Even just a few words means a lot to us. That you went out of your way to comment or email is not something we take for granted.
Maybe you just want to say you enjoyed our book. Maybe it resonated with you in some way, reminded you of someone or that you found the theme or symbology meaningful. Perhaps there was something you didn’t like. Personally, I like to hear that too. Perhaps you wanted more mystery, more romance, or you just want to hear more about a particular character. All feedback is great. As authors we spend months or years creating something and then we throw it into the world for others to enjoy. The worst thing for us is to hear crickets. Did we move you, make you laugh, make you cry? Did you fall in love with a character, or hate a villain so much that you cheered when he got defeated?
Historically, authors have cultivated an aloofness I think; someone we readers fawned over at conventions or book signings. Or maybe it was just too difficult to engage with an author in the days before the internet or social media. Most authors I know today, love chatting with readers. Remember that all authors are readers too, and we love talking about books, yes, even – shock – other people’s books!
You have a chance to shape our future books too. Writing is fast becoming a collaborative effort in that if we know what types of books, settings, characters, or situations you prefer, we can tailor our future work. Tell us which of our books you liked best, and why. I’d like to know if more readers are interested in a sequel to Ocean of Dust than Necromancer, or vice versa. I like to think that’s a win for readers too. Many authors are collaborative in this way. It’s fun.
So, dear reader, there is a solid reason that we display our email address (or a contact form) on our web sites, and have social media profiles – to make it easy for you to contact us. Please do! Don’t be shy.