Friday, August 19, 2011

The Care and Feeding of Authors

By Peg Brantley, Author at Work, Stumbling Toward Publication

It's gotta be chocolate, right?


Some kind of booze?


But what I'm about to share with you creates an even higher high for those of us who wrangle words. Since I'm not yet published (with 3.375 practice novels stuck in a drawer), I'm taking this opportunity to speak for those who are.

I was talking with a friend the other day who absolutely loves to read. And to anyone who will listen (particularly another reader) she will share her thoughts and bubble with enthusiasm about a particular book or its author. I love spending time with her, especially when I have my Kindle to download samples while we're talking.

But she doesn't write reviews on Amazon. What? She hates reviews that give away plots, doesn't want to commit the time, and can't believe that what she thinks could possibly have any impact. When I told her she could write a review that didn't need to reveal any of the plot (hello . . . Amazon . . . book description), and simply say what she enjoyed about the book, or the writing style, her eyes lit up.

Most writers won't ask a reader to write a review on Amazon, or Goodreads, or anywhere else. But I'm here to tell you that those reviews can make a huge difference to your favorite authors. Maybe even feed them for a month. Now that's power.

My sister, Lala Corriere, whose first book was released for Kindle last November and expects to have her second book released before this November, flew sky-high because some readers, people she'd never met, took the time to write her and tell her how much they'd enjoyed her first book. The fire of passion those few words lit under her butt provided her the loving care she needed at that moment. She was propelled to a higher level of energy. And that's the kind of loving care she'll be able to look back on when she's having a rough day in order to re-energize and motivate. Talk about leftovers!

So here it is:
  • buy their books (duh—this definitely falls under feeding);
  • write reviews. Even three-liners that say, "I liked this book. You might, too! Get it now!" Whether it's on Amazon or Goodreads or an online loop of readers. As readers, you have more power than you realize, and your author will be so appreciative;
  • let the author know if his or her efforts gave you a nice escape, something to think about, or just good beach-reading. A few nice words from you equates to thousands from them. A pretty fair exchange, don't you think?
Even at the point where I am in this career, encouragement is a necessary element to my existance. Just the idea that there are a couple of people out there, ready to give my initial effort a test run, keeps me going. Can you imagine how huge the reality will be?

Feed your favorite authors. Don't be shy. Don't think what you have to say won't possibly make a difference.

I promise you, it will.

Readers, is there something else you've done to feed a favorite author? Are you willing to write a review?

Writers, what keeps you nourished and well fed?


  1. Well said, Peg! I think sometimes people forget that authors are people too and who wouldn't want to be told their work was enjoyable whether via review or a letter letting the author know (though reviews also serve to let the world know)?! Some places, like Smashwords and maybe Amazon, nudge purchasers with a review reminder. Some authors even subtly hint to people who let them know they liked the book that a review would be nice and helpful.

    One thing I do when I like an author's work is to make sure I let others know beyond the review: word of mouth, posting links to their work on my social networking pages, simply telling people about the book/author on those networks. And I agree with you fully. Reviews should not retell the story! Tell others what you got out of reading it and what they might get as well.

  2. Peg, I agree with you and Linda about telling the whole story in a review. I think I've mentioned before, I sometimes feel like I don't even need to read the book after I've read the review. So, I just write a few lines telling what I liked. I also do the same things as Linda, beyond the review. If I like the book, I'll tell everybody.

  3. Linda, isn't it true that all it takes is one atta-girl (or atta-boy) to give you energy? Word of mouth is the best long-term feeding program for authors, that's for sure.

    Nissie, you know a LOT of people, so when you speak . . . well, what more could an author want?

  4. Great post, Peg. I'm continually astonished when even the most established authors will contact me to thank me for a review.

  5. I don't think most readers are aware of how much power they hold in their hands. For me, they're the most important part of my writing career.They buy the books, and therefore, their opinions matter most. In other words, when they talk, I listen. Whenever I get an email from a reader telling me they've enjoyed my book, as well as a positive review, it brings a big old smile to my face, makes my day. It means my work meant something to them, touched them in some way. That's my goal, and that tells me I've reached it.

  6. Great post, Peg! I must remember to go to Amazon more often and post a positive review of books I've enjoyed. I've rarely written or emailed an author directly - I guess I could look for a website URL or go through their publisher... The only times I've felt like contacting the author are the two extremes - I really loved the book or I hated it (in which case I put it down and don't pick it up again). Oh yeah, and I sometimes want to contact the publisher and tell them they could have done a better editing job! Okay, and occasionally I want to tell the author about some little logistics boo-boo ("How could ... be when you said earlier...?").

  7. And most of them are afraid of me, Peg, so they'll buy what I tell them to buy. ;)

  8. As my big sister, Peg, always's all better with friends. Sometimes friends are persons you've never met, and that is indeed very cool. Sometimes friends are your big sister!

  9. Hearing from a reader can make my day and inspire me to open the file and start writing again, even when I'm discouraged. And you're right about reviews; they can make or break book sales.

  10. I agree that someone - especially someone you don't know - telling you your book(s) is/are great is the most fabulous feeling. But too many readers and let's face it, we're all readers, get stuck in a rut. Which is where Amazon Kindle wins in its pricing policy. Would I ever have discovered Detective Jackson, L J's protagonist had not the first book been free. In the recession, who would pay $8.99 or, in the UK £7.99 to take a flier on someone you knew nothing about? But LJ's first book was only pence to buy - or it may have been free - can't remember. What I do know is that I went through all 5 Jackson novels in less than a week and I'm panting for No 6. She could charge $15 for it and I will buy it because I love her writing, but I wouldn't have found her had it not been for the fact that she let me have the first book for virtually nothing. So, the most difficult thing we as authors have to face isn't necessarily getting our book out there - indie etc - but getting readers to take a chance on us. Then we have to balance that with making a living. (Sigh).

  11. Marlyn, I used to scoff at reviews. Not any more. I think they are one way that 'word of mouth' thing can take on a new life.

    Drew, have I told you lately what a great storyteller you are?

    Jodi, I recently read a book where if the author paid for an editor, she should have asked for her money back. But I suspect she didn't. *sigh* I hope you post more reviews. They're important and don't have to be detailed.

    You do keep those vampire hours, Nissie. There's good cause for people to be wary of you.

    Lala, I'm looking forward to your new release in a couple of months.

    It's hard for me to imagine you discouraged, L.J. You have so much energy and create such terrific books. But I guess we all have those lows, don't we?

    Silversongbird, one of the coolest things about Kindle is the sample download. I can sample a new writer's style, or check to make sure a writer who has recently disappointed me is back on top of their game. And I'm glad that L.J., if she didn't know it before, knows she's got a great fan in you.


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