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?