As some of you might know, I spend a certain amount of time on the Amazon discussion forums. I also hang out on Goodreads once in a while. Mostly I just lurk, but occasionally someone feeds me a straight line that is simply too good to be true, and I must respond. (Example: Q–Do we have to wear some sort of “attire” to the convention? A–Well, yeah, they won’t take it well if you show up naked.)
I have a limited time allotted to Amazon/GR, and I tend to hang out where readers congregate. These days they seem to spend less time discussing books and more time discussing authors–often complaining about them. Complaints range from review manipulation to whining to sock-puppetry to out and out meltdown.
I’ve become well acquainted with two or three of these colleagues of mine, who never seem to be happy unless they are attacking readers or reviewers. These folks almost literally foam at the mouth, their jaws dripping vitriol, and the do it in a PUBLIC FORUM! I don’t get it–really, I don’t.
Do they not understand that readers are entitled to purchase or borrow whatever books they like? That those readers are also allowed to evaluate their purchases with NO regard WHATSOEVER for the author’s hopes, dreams, bank balances, emotional issues, disabilities, or anything else? That they don’t owe anyone a “free pass” due to age/ability/mental stability/experience? Apparently not.
Here’s the thing–I want my books to be judged on the same standard as any other. I don’t want the fact that they’re small press, or indie, or a “first effort”, or written by someone who faces the daily challenge of being too short to reach stuff on tall shelves, or any other excuse, to influence reader opinion. I want the reader to look at the book, perhaps choose it, then read it, then finish it, then decide that they liked it. All on the book’s merits–not on my challenges. And if they didn’t like it, they are allowed to say so! This is a product like any other, one that they bought and paid for. Our work might be precious to us, but it’s just another book to them! The worst thing of all would be having readers resolve never to read my work because I acted like a you-know-what on line.
It’s a difficult fact to face, but some books just aren’t worthy. Yet some authors won’t let themselves hear the truth–they cling to the idea that they WILL be the next big “indie breakthrough sensation”. We have a greater chance of being struck by lightning. I have yet to know if my stuff is “worthy”–too early to really tell. I pray that it is, because readers invest their time, effort, and money in acquiring and reading my work. I really, really HATE to let them down!
Everyone is familiar with the saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” (Actually, if I whip out my handy electrolyte syringe, I CAN make him drink…eventually…but that’s beside the point.)
You might do everything you can to lead a reader to your book, but you CAN’T make him/her like it! Best thing to do then is let it roll, not accuse the reader of anything horrible, and for heaven’s sake, keep it OFF the public forums! Think of the kitties! Every time an author has a public meltdown on Amazon or Goodreads, an entire litter of kitties dies. (Honest–I read about it on the internet. Uhhhh…Bon Joor. )
With regards and hoping you all avoid severe weather this weekend,