As I was reviewing previous blog posts for possible deletion, Having a Voice caught my attention as I've been (pick an emotion: enjoying / suffering / celebrating) two releases this summer. I've been listening to hear what the readers have to say. Although a book is the writer's voice, the readers have a voice in what they want, what they enjoy reading... and most importantly what they will pay for.
While the cash register is one way a reader may speak to us, stars and a few words of a review are also important. But they can be impersonal. We are humann beings and can need a closer tie. A brief personal exchange can turn the sky blue and encourage an author to continue on.
Alon Shalev in his blog Elfwriter recounts one of his in-person events and the good, the bad, and the reality of being an author. He references Terry Brooks work Sometimes The Magic Works and says, "book signings are not about selling books or advancing your career."
Oh, I forgot the title of Shalev's post that started this reminesce. All He Had To Say Was Thank You. It is too easy to get lost in the depression of low attendance or lack-luster (or worse, non-existent) sales. Shalev and Brooks reminded that a simple smile and quiet "Thank You" can brighten not just your mood but justify to the reader that their time was not wasted. No matter how justified your move, a snarl at someone approaching you can't help a career.
Their post reminded me of one of my very first in-person events. Rain forced the large author's fair indoors into the stacks of the library. Attendees seeing the rain didn't come out because they thought the event had been cancelled. After all no sane author is going to sit out on the lawn in the rain with their books. Those who were at the library to drop off books wandered the tables and sometimes visited with the authors. You might ask what does that have to do with a "thank you" and a personal interaction. One of those who stopped by my table was a teenage girl who had been at the library to return books used for a school project.
It wasn't her first visit to my table, nor the second, that made the day memorable. When I was leaving after having repeatedly fought off a funk and still facing an hour-long drive home, the girl stopped me on the way out. "I'm sorry, I couldn't by your book, Dragon Destiny," she said. "I really wanted to, but I didn't know their would be a sale and had no money with me."
I gave her the remainder of the candy that I had planned as my dinner and a bead and bauble bookmark that was in my pocket. I dont' know if she ever bought a book, and she'll never know what that brief interaction meant. But sometimes a "thank you" is enough.
~till next time. keep a smile for your readers. And readers - the few words of a review are a great way to reward your favorite author. Helen