Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Reader Appreciation Club

Some writers (more successful ones than me!) have fan clubs. I want to go the other way, and start a Reader Appreciation Club.

You can join the Reader Appreciation Club if you write a helpful review of a book, that doesn't include any plot spoilers but just lets potential readers know why you liked it, so that they can decide if they would like it. You can join the club if you tweet or post on Facebook about a book that you can't put down. You can join the club if you send the author an email or a Facebook message or tag them in an Instagram photo or just in any way possible let the author know that someone's reading the author's book, and that someone likes the author's book.

If you take a book on vacation, tell the author!
From Reader Appreciation Society Charter Member Summer T.
Then once you're in the club I'll shower you with praise, send you chocolates, and ask you to cheer me up when I'm feeling down.

Because that's how you got into the club. Not because you sold books for me, or made my book more visible to buyers, or even because you said nice things about my book. The members of my Reader Appreciation Club (imaginary, because I live in Florida and mailing chocolates would be messy) get to join because they let me know that they're reading the book. "Hey Natalie, you know that entire summer you spent indoors editing a novel? I read it."

As an author I don't get a pat on the back from my boss.

I don't get to chat with anyone in the break room at lunch time.

I don't even see my customers (as someone with a retail/hospitality background, this one is particularly tough!). Basically, you're all just highly theoretical to me until someone actually sends me that email, or tags me in that Instagram photo of my book visiting the Bahamas as a beach read, or writes that review at a booksellers' website.

Sometimes it feels like I'm sending my work out into a void, hunching over something, obsessing over something, for months and even years, and then... just waiting. Waiting for a little proof that someone read it, that my work resonated with someone, that all that work matters.

"You know that entire summer you spent indoors editing a novel? I read it. You exist. It exists. That summer mattered."

Writers and websites like Goodreads will tell you that writing a review helps an author sell books, and that makes it a nice thing to do for an author that you like. And that's true -- don't get me wrong.
This is all a review needs to be, to be helpful to readers and precious to authors! Welcome to the club, Morganmom!

But even when someone isn't comfortable writing a review, or they don't have time, or they don't have an account with Amazon after all so that 500-word review they just wrote has just been deleted and never again *%&*#((D!! -- just letting the writer know, in some small way, that someone has actually read that work they sent out into the void months ago, or years ago... that's all you need to get into my Reader Appreciation Society. (Imaginary.)

Thanks to everyone who has ever emailed me, tagged me, tweeted me, written me a review... thanks to all of you. You're my pat on the back from my boss, and you're my chat in the break room, and you're my validation that all this work matters.

You guys rock, and you totally deserve chocolates.

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