Monday, May 26, 2014

Armchair BEA: Author Interaction

Today for Armchair BEA, I'm going to talk about author interaction.

Because believe me, if you think authors don't pay attention, they do.

As I shared yesterday, I've been reviewing a long time.  I started back in 2001 reviewing solely at Amazon (I do still post reviews there.)  I learned right away that authors read the reviews.  I got a few not so nice e-mails from authors, but most have been very pleasant.  One author who impressed me was Ted Dekker.  Back in 2002, I left a mostly negative review of his very first book on Amazon.  He replied with an e-mail to me admitting all the flaws I'd named in my review.  He then said he thought he'd improved since then, and he hoped he'd give me a second chance with one of his newer books.  I never have read any more from him, but that's just a case of the towering To Be Read Mountain Range.  His e-mail was a class act, and I really did intend to give him another try - at least at that point.

Really, most of the author interactions I've had have been pleasant.  Then again, I do tend to stick mostly to authors I know and like, which helps.  If I don't care for an author, I won't read them again unless there is a compelling reason to do so.  Why waste my time?

Back in the early days, it actually threw me when an author would know who I was from my reviews.  I can remember the shock of a "Thanks for your review" when I would introduce myself at a book signing.  Now, I don't get quite that shock any more.  I don't expect them to know who I am, but I also am not surprised when I do.

I should point out that I have been going to author signings for just a bit longer than I have been reviewing, so I have had many author interactions face to face.  Unlike many people who listen to the talk, get their book signed, and leave, I like to stay and chat with the authors a bit afterward.  If it is a small signing, that's even more possible.  Over the years, I've become friends with some of my favorite authors, like Joanne Fluke (who gave me posters for most of the books in her best selling Hannah Swensen series), Laura Levine, and Sue Ann Jaffarian (who I and some other fans/friends get together with for brunch a couple times a year).

In fact, it was Sue Ann Jaffarian who got me into mud runs.  About the time I finally started reading her books (I mentioned Mountain Range To Be Read, right?), she was training for the Camp Pendleton Mud Run.  It sounded like fun, but it also sounded very daunting.  I debated for a while, but I decided that if she could do it, I could do it.  So I did my first mud run in 2010.  This Sunday, I'll be doing my fifth Camp Pendleton Mud Run in a row, plus I've done many others throughout the year.

Of course, interacting with authors can increase the challenge if you find you don't like a book they've written.  I find myself breathing more easily when I find myself enjoying the latest from authors I normally like.

What about you?  Have you found that reviewing has opened up authors to you in new ways?

14 comments:

  1. What a great experience. I am just happy if an author tweets a review nevermind actually notices me beyond that. Now to just get my reviewing in line with my reading. :D

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    1. Ways to get noticed? Book signings and commenting on their Facebook pages or blogs. That seems to help them remember who you are.

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  2. Authors are always reading reviews because we know the power they have to persuade readers to buy our books.

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    1. Some authors do tend to avoid their reviews, but it seems like most of them do read them.

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  3. That is awesome. I love when you can become friends with authors. I love when I go to a signing, and they are like "I know you!" It gives me the warm fuzzies.

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    1. It always gives me the warm fuzzies as well for an author I didn't think knew me to indicate they know exactly who I am.

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  4. As I think back on 4+ years blogging, I have only got one hate mail from an author. Generally they can appreciate my constructive negative review, but this one author did not appreciate how I felt afterward. His book left me feeling like I listen to a grown man drivel for a few hours, and it was exhausting as well as boring. I tried to be as nice as I could, but he just bashed me and my opinion anyway. I ignored it and him. To this day, I stay true to how I feel and will post a negative review. I also try to up-sell the not-so-great book even though I didn't care for it, I let it be known someone else might. You win some and you lose some I guess.

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    1. The number of negative e-mails from authors is far outweighed by the positive ones. I'm very lucky that way. But the negative ones certainly do stand out, as I'm sure negative reviews do for authors. I just ignore the few authors who have done that and never gone back to their books.

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  5. You touched upon a point that I'm generally curious about. What about those times when you do indeed encounter a you're not crazy about...one that was written by an author friend or acquaintance?

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    1. (that is to say, how to you navigate those situations?)

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    2. Fortunately, I've only had those pop up once or twice. I've taken great care with those reviews, writing what I felt was true, but wording it carefully so it wasn't overly harsh. The response has been good, although they weren't thrilled with it. Fortunately, the next book was up to par, so it was never a serious issue.

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    3. Make that last line "a long term issue."

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  6. I am always so impressed when an author sends a nice e-mail in response to a critical review! I do usually try to give them a second chance too, if I think I'm likely to enjoy another book more. I've been lucky enough to never receive a negative e-mail from an author. I've also never had an author remember my review at a book signing, but I'm sure that's an awesome feeling :)

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    1. Wow, never a negative e-mail from an author? What is your secret there?

      I hope you do get to experience an author knowing you by your reviews at some point. It is a thrill.

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