Monday, 16 January 2012

The author-reader connection

This is something that's had me worried at night: how does reading about an author affect a reader's experience of the book? It concerns me because I've read in various places that readers have been happily ploughing through a series, only to discover that the writer is the most obnoxious human ever to have lived, and that's really put them off. Therefore, if an author's personality has elements that don't translate well on the web, perhaps all this interaction gubbins is a bad idea.

I try to make sure that what I put on here exists to entertain, either for those interested in the books or those interested in what goes on in my head (bit presumptuous perhaps, but that's what I look for on writers' blogs). I've been on a moan-fest recently, so I'm aware that my grumblings might not be amusing to everyone. What's more, I've discovered the previously-unexplored wonders of the anonymous mask of a pen-name. It does give me that opportunity to shout and say things that I wouldn't ordinarily say. In real life, I'm much more the sort of person who prefers to sit quietly in a corner and watch.

But anyway, what about all this commenting on people's reviews? I don't mean writing things here, I don't think that is a problem, but I have come to realise that writing comments on review sites is probably not a good thing.  I've done this myself, when a kindly reviewer wrote some nice things about my book on Amazon, and I said thank you. But perhaps even that was a touch misguided. If someone wrote a really tough review, I don't think any comment I made on it would come across well. If I said thank you, it might come across as contrite, or perhaps as if I was trying to present myself as falsely humble. And if I tried to argue with any points... well, that's not going to end prettily. Besides, I know I'd just try to be sarcastic instead, and sarcasm doesn't come across well in writing if it's not expected :-)

Then there's the question of bias. Reviewers may write different things if they feel they're being watched by the writer, or that they might experience some sort of verbal reprisal should they dare to criticise. My presence really ought to be minimal where the opinions of others carry such importance.

And then there's impression it gives about the writer. If an author is successful, they ought not to have time to spare to check reviews and all that. I can't lie, I'd define myself as 'struggling'... so I still have the time to do it!

For other web-based projects I've done in the past, feedback has always been one of the most vital elements to its development and success. But old-fashioned success in media was never the slightest bit interactive; TV shows would be fed to the audience at peak time and that guaranteed a large following. Sometimes the same happens with books that come out of larger publishing houses: they're almost fed to people using massive advertising campaigns and the benefit of an established name. I'm not saying those books or TV shows have no merit, but sometimes they don't need much of it to succeed. What I'm doing here is far more niche, and far more dependent upon consumer choice.

What's more, I feel I need some sort of connection to my readers. I write what I write regardless of opinion, but I am always interested to know what it is people enjoy (or do not enjoy) about the books, or what mood it puts them in.

1 comment:

  1. I wrote you a response on GoodReads because it was too long to post here, anyhow hope it gives you a bit more faith in responding to readers.