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Paying it forward

October 1, 2010

Authors are busy people. Writing, rewriting, and editing one’s manuscript takes top priority. And that’s only the creative side. Promoting your work is a whole other job. Blogging, tweeting, posting, holding contests, entering contests, submitting works for review consume a lot of time. Added to that, many authors have outside day jobs. Throw in family and household demands and it’s a wonder that authors ever get time to read.   

But authors do read. If they’re like me, they read a lot. For many authors, the enjoyment of a particular book or genre is what made them want to write. Something they read got them thinking, “Hey, I can write that.” Or they noticed a gap and decided to fill it by writing what they wanted to read. Authors read to keep up with their genre and know what’s being published. And they read for the same reason that non-writing readers do…because they enjoy it.

However, I’ve noticed that there is some reluctance among some authors to go out on a limb and state what books or authors they like.

I’ve heard some writers say they don’t read—or don’t read in their genre–while they’re actively working on a manuscript because they don’t want to be influenced by what others have written. I understand that, and credit it with some validity, but I have to ask, “Really? You never read while writing a book?” If you’re prolific at all you’d never be able to read again!

I’ve also heard some authors say they won’t comment on their favorite authors or favorite books because they fear inadvertently insulting someone by not including them. Or they play it safe by citing a classic from some long-dead author.

As authors, it makes our day to hear from reader who loved our book. So why do we hesitate to put a little spring in a fellow writer’s footstep? Yeah, we’re busy. But I have yet to hear an author say she was too busy to read an email from a reader who liked her book. Most authors don’t get enough positive feedback. Despite having our name emblazoned across the cover of our books, we toil in anonymity. We’re not exactly deluged by fan mail (at least I’m not).

So pay it forward. If you read an author’s book and like it, let him or her know.

I try to do this with the  books I like. I don’t always follow through, but most of the time, I do. In addition, I also try to praise and author publicly in some fashion, whether it’s a post on a blog or Facebook, a quick review on Goodreads or Amazon. You never know who will see it and buy that person’s book because of it.

In the future, you’ll see more author interviews on my blog, like the one I did with Cara McKenna, as well as a new section on my blog of books I’ve read.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2010 8:22 am

    Cara, I deeply appreciate it when another author lets me know they like/love my book. In fact, most of best feedback has come from other authors.

    I do let other authors know, either by emailing or when on a loop doing a chat.

    However, to your point about authors not reading in their genre as they’re writing, I *don’t* do it. I developed this habit a very long time ago because I was accused of plagiarizing when I absolutely DID NOT. So, I can always say, truthfully, no, I didn’t read that book. At least, not before writing my book.

  2. October 2, 2010 5:04 pm

    Hey Cara. I do believe in highlighting authors I like. How that can insult others, I’m not sure, as there are so very many of us out there, it’s not realistic to acknowledge liking everyone. But yeah, someone will undoubtedly be offended for not being included. Oh well. I like to post books I like with links to them on my monthly newsletter and sometimes on my blog. Before I was a writer, I was a reader, and I’m still a reader. I read while writing, but I try not to read in the same genre if at all possible. Or I’ll reward myself with a special book once my first draft is finished. That helps motivate me.
    And if a book really, really strikes me, I’ll contact the author and let her know. It makes me feel good when someone does it to me, so why not share the love with someone else?
    Great post!
    Marie

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