The Author Asks

Story time. For those who know me, a story usually pops up in conversation at some point.  It’s my Celtic heritage. My people are storytellers.

June 2010, I attended my first GCLS conference in Orlando. I
went —by myself in order to pitch my newly completed first manuscript. I didn’t know a
single soul, except for virtual names and faces.

Long story short, at one of the sessions, a well-loved author was commenting on the value of reader feedback. She remarked that although writing was a solitary task even one e-mail from a reader could provide enormous incentive. I made a promise to
myself that whenever I finished a book or story, I would let the author know
and make some sort of comment.

At the time, I didn’t consider myself knowledgeable enough
to be analyzing anyone’s work but felt that I could at least say thank you for
taking the time to write a book that I could enjoy. Little did I know about
what was involved in getting said book to said reader.

Sixteen months have passed since that time and to my credit, I have made good on my promise. I have either emailed, Face booked, texted, or spoken with a number of authors to acknowledge their hard work.

The difference today is that I am now one of those authors.

A Little over three months ago, Affinity eBooks published my first book “Damaged In Service”– the first in a four books series.

According to my  first quarterly report, I’ve sold more than a few of these books. (Warning: the whining starts now)

I was thrilled when I received my first e-mail a mere 48 hours after release. Soon after I received two very flattering reviews. There were a number people who let me know how happy they were after ordering my book. Some folks even sent one are two progress notes detailing their excitement as they began reading.

And in all honesty, I have received four other thoughtful reviews.

So here’s my question, when you (the universal reader) finish a book that you either loved her hated or maybe just tolerated, do you contact the author?

If you do, Brava!

If you don’t, what might be holding youback? I seriously want to know.

Is it shyness?

Is it because you don’t think your opinion is of value?

Is it because you think authors are too busy to read your
comments?

Is it because it’s just too much trouble?

Is it because you don’t want to tell them the books sucked
because they might kill you?

As I said before writing is a solitary endeavor. My dogs have virtually no input in my stories. All conversations occur in my head between my characters and me and sometimes it’s hard to gain perspective. Happily, I have a critique partner and a very good beta reader. But, that said,  I have just offered up a large chunk of my soul with a solemn promise to bring you three more installments and I would really like your feedback—good, bad, or ugly. Caveat: I am not looking to be browbeaten, but I would certainly appreciate feedback.
There is an address on the right hand side or you can message me on Facebook.

Thanks for your time and your support now I will go back to our regularly scheduled writing.

Remember, Book two will be along in February 2012

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7 thoughts on “The Author Asks

  1. Interesting discussion, Barrett. I do applaud your use of the blog format to engage with readers. It makes me want to purchase your book because you are showing that you want to out out the best product you can.
    I have written to several authors about their books, and have several letters of praise stashed away in my brain. For me, it is usually just a lack of time to get those thoughts typed out. But I too, see how important this is to an author. Thanks to you, I’ll probably get typing today!
    I hesitate to give ‘constructive feedback’ on a book that might benefit from such comments, because I am not sure they really mean it when they say they want to hear the not-so-good with the good. If through other avenues, like this blog, I can determine that they do, indeed, want to grow through such feedback, then I will gently, and respectfully share my thoughts.
    I hear what you say about being too close to a creative work to sometimes see how it comes across, so it is great that you have beta readers to shed light on aspects that might have just gotten by you.
    I look forward to reading “Damaged in Service”. When I find an author that is an interesting person, then I’m betting their writing will be just as interesting and entertaining. Thanks for the connection.

    • Thanks Karen, I appreciate your comment. That was the one I forgot. In our busy daily routines, composing a thoughtful note –with care, may just be too time-consuming for most folks. For those of us who spend an enormous amout of our sleeping and waking lives with “words” it may be a tad easier. Then again…if we use our words all day, there may be nothing left to share. Conundrum, I guess.

      Still, I appreciate the sense of connectedness in an era of electronic isolation.

  2. You bring up a really good point, Barrett.

    As a reviewer, I’ll admit that sometimes I choose a book that looks interesting, sometimes I choose a book because it’s from an author I really like, and sometimes I choose a book because the author or publisher asked if I’d review it.

    For me, once I select a book for my review, I feel 100% obligated to continue through with the review. This sometimes puts me in an awkward position, especially if I find the book didn’t ring a chorus of bells for me. Still, when you get down to it, with any good book there is usually something that could be improved, and with any so-so book, there is usually something fantastic hidden inside. I try to emphasize the positive, and make honest but polite reference to the negative (awful word).

    Ultimately, the goal for authors is to write blockbusters and the goal for the readers is to read them. If you think about it, sort of a win/win.

    As to the point of feedback, I find that I seek positive reinforcement on my reviews. When someone tells me I did a good job, I’m thrilled. Of course, when someone tells me I struck out, it sucks tailpipe. But, I put my big girl panties on, and try [emphasis added] to consider the points made, and attempt to work fixes into my future reviews. Hopefully, I’m more successful than not. Hopefully.

    I read a lot of books, and not all of them make it into my blog. Still, I have to admit that I have never, ever contacted an author that has not been the subject of a review to give them my appreciation or comments. Your blog is sort of an ‘a-ha’ moment for me.

    Thanks for that.

    • “But, I put my big girl panties on, and try [emphasis added] to consider the points made, and attempt to work fixes into my future reviews. Hopefully, I’m more successful than not. Hopefully.”

      That’s kind of where I was headed with this. As a writer, I have difficulty getting enough distance from my work to see it objectively. Beta readers and editors provide valuable observations that can positively impact the story, invariably they are things I never thought of using. Not every suggestion works, but I give each one consideration.

      As a reader, I think all of us could say that at one time or another we read a scene, a paragraph, or even a line and thought “I would’ve written it______”.
      But how many of us have the nerve to politely (and I mean politely and respectfully) offer that idea to a writer?

      When discussing this topic yesterday a friend of mine suggested sending a note highlighting the positive things you found and sharing your enjoyment of the book. IF, the author responds positively and ASKS if there was anything you would have changed, you can then asked if they want your honest opinion, or a glossed over example. If they ask for the truth, offer them you’re honest opinion with what you think might have made it better. That way, there’s no miscommunication.

      At the end of the acknowledgments in my book, I asked readers to tell their friends if they enjoyed my book, and tell me if they didn’t.

      Thanks for your comment, Salem.

  3. Thanks, Baxter. Yes, I appreciate your comment. Thinking about what you said, I guess I would have to say that I agree with the notion that each author has a certain amount of pride in their work or they wouldn’t put it out there. What I guess I am interested in most, is “how” or whether the book affected the reader in any way. The best emails have been from those who felt an emotional/personal reaction. Also, why people don’t feel confident or even interested in voicing their opinion. I applaud you trying genres that may not appeal and posting positive reviews. Do you ever contact authors with the poossible negatives?

  4. Well, since you asked….

    As you know, early this year I published my first ebook and couldn’t wait to get the first reviews. (Thank you, Salem and Henrietta!) I have never looked for reviews with any of my other books, because I think the fact that someone (i.e. a publisher) cared enough to print them “told me” they were good. I didn’t need further outside validation. But having gone indie, I CRAVE that validation, partly because I have no house to provide it, and am still dealing with the stigma of self-publishing. (Yawn, really must move beyond that someday).

    After realizing how much it meant to me, I started writing reviews of books I liked. In this five-star obsessed literary world, I didn’t write reviews for books I wouldn’t give less than four stars to. I wanted to be honest yet support the author and less than four stars can hurt a cursory review of an author’s book. So only four-star or better reviews.

    Also, I’m trying to broaden the genres I read and that’s often a stretch. Like paranormal and lesbian romances. I’m trying to like the genres but they rarely work for me, no matter how well written. So it might be a very good romance or vampire story, but I probably wouldn’t give it more than a three, just because novels in that genre so rarely interest me. No fault or reflection on the author’s talent, just my lack of interest, so not fair of me to post a review.

    Does that help, #1F?

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