Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Connecting with Readers

I enjoyed all the workshops I attended at RT. One in particular I attended came to mind in the past couple of days. While I wasn't that keen on the title of the workshop; Read a Book, Save an Author, I don't think it's our job as readers to save authors, I do have great admiration for them and much appreciation of the hours and hours of enjoyment I get through their work. And I did enjoy the workshop. It was run by Toni Blake and Dakota Cassidy was a last minute replacement for Julie Ann Long who couldn't make it. Also leading the workshop were a couple of publicists.

One point I wanted to make was there is a great, largely untapped opportunity out there for authors, at least in the world of the reader bloggers. To many of us, reading romance is almost a religion *g*. I have no doubt we make some of the greatest fans of authors going. Speaking for myself and I think for others comments and posts I've seen around, we are remarkably loyal to those authors we love. We will keep reading their books even though some of them may not be as enjoyable as others.

What got me thinking about this topic occurred when I happened to be doing some author website surfing the other night and I saw at one author's site a quote I did from one of my Recent Read posts on her book/s. I was thrilled beyond belief and quickly sent a squeeing letter to a number of blogger friends. AND I insisted in this email that they simply had to give her a try - because I said so *g*. One of them wrote back that she went out and got the book. Then the next day I noticed another author had a short quote on a review I had done and again I was excited. That was two in two days!!

I exchanged a few emails with another reader blogger friend. In the exchange of emails, and the point I wanted to make in this post, is us readers are very tickled when an author 'drops' in to visit our blogs. I don't mean it a way of pimping their books, but just dropping in to leave a comment on any old topic. The friend I exchanged emails with had this happen when an author commented on how cute her dog was and she has bought every book this author has come out with since then. I know I would do the same.

If I'm in a book store, looking for something to read and not being sure what, and there is a book on the shelf by an author who has stopped by here, you can bet that will be the one I'll pick up to take home with me. I've also noticed Ramblings on Romance listed on sidebars of a few author blogs and that's another factor that will cause me take their book home. I get such a rush when I see that.

When I made this point in the workshop, about how thrilled we readers are when authors drop by and how very likely it is that when that happens and we see one of their books in the store, we will buy it, knowing the author took time to visit us, it was brought up that some authors aren't sure how welcome they would be. While I can't speak for EVERY reader blogger, still I think the odds are very good, that the authors are very welcome.

It's hard to put into words my feelings on authors. I know I hold them in high esteem unless they prove to be total dickwads. They do something I wish I could do. They create people and stories that entertain me ever so much more than most television shows or movies. I even appreciate authors whose books I don't read. At least they are doing something they love - I would think you would have to love it to be an author. The vast majority of them aren't getting all that rich in their chosen careers I think. I think the closest I can come to the feeling, is the way I felt about the kids teachers. It was a job I couldn't do and by the very nature of it they earned my respect.

And also, in most cases, before they were writers, authors were and are still readers. With that fact in mind, it makes them very welcome visitors here.

And I'm curious. Do you like having authors dropping in and joining on discussions? Would it have any effect when you're shopping for books? Or would you rather they stay away? I'm talking general discussions, not discussions on their own particular book.

So when an author drops by I get a real thrill that they 'visit' me.


Tabitha said...

I feel the same as you when an author stops by or I read a comment they make on another blogger's post. It's exciting to see an author take time out of her day to visit and/or comment, even more so when it's not just to thank a reader for reviewing or mentioning her book.

Tori [Book Faery] said...

Larissa Ione stopped by Book Faery and would leave comments during this Demonica week I organized. I was not expecting her to stop by every day, but she did, and she was so sweet!

Both the readers and myself were SO excited about that! It's extremely fun--not to mention flattering--when an author stops by your blog. It makes me feel like I'm doing something right if an author can take time out of his/her busy schedule to stop by, even if it's just to say hi.

Reena Jacobs said...

I'm new to the twitter bit. Since I joined, I've found a whole new world filled with blog post links and reviewers. Before I was stuck in my little world of favorite authors. With the blog posts, interviews, and such, I've ventured out of my regular authors to try new ones.

I love it when authors participate in the chats. It gives me the impression the author still cares about his/her fan base and potential readers--that they're still in touch with the world.

Carrie Lofty said...

Hi, Kristie :)

Anonymous said...

My experience is that an author coming into a chat about them tends to stop genuine discussion dead. :-( -- willaful

CLM said...

Most of my favorite authors are dead - so I would be very impressed if one stopped by! But how I would love to spend an hour with one of my favorites, Georgette Heyer or Elswyth Thane!

Anonymous said...

Great post Kristie! I do love it when authors acknowledge our labors of love here in blogland.

Wendy said...

I think it's just "easier" for authors not to leave comments - since nothing can come back and bite them in the butt that way. I "get" it, and understand it. The mob mentality on the Internet can be a waaaaaay scary thing.

That said, I do love it when an author swings by and drops a comment. Most of the time it's when I'm blogging either about 1) my job or 2) something totally unrelated to books....oh, like baseball. Or discovering the BBC TV show, Top Gear. Or what My Man got me for Christmas etc. etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a blogger unless adding comments is being one. But, you know, I find the close relationship between readers and authors in romance land odd and maybe a bit unhealthy, for how can it not skew one's judgement about the product of that author?


Karenmc said...

I don't blog, but I enjoy authors who join in on comment threads. Since I'm always happy when authors respond to emails, I understand the happy dance factor for bloggers.

Bunnie's Mom said...

I was recently trying to put into words exactly what you have said here (thank you!). Even an author commenting on a post I've left on THEIR blog gives me the squees :) Like you said, books are so much more to me than TV or movies ever will be. "Meeting" them, or interacting with them, really makes you feel like part of that fabulousness. I was star-struck when I found Sarah Donati's blog, same for Jenny Cruise - it's like blogging with Ridly Scott, Or George Lucas! And when Joanna Bourne replied to my comment I went right out and snapped up all her books that I didn't already have ;) helps that she's the Ghirardelli chocolate of books but still!

Kristie (J) said...

Tabitha - it is a thrill isn't it? I love it when they join in conversations.

Tory: "It's extremely fun--not to mention flattering--when an author stops by your blog. It makes me feel like I'm doing something right if an author can take time out of his/her busy schedule to stop by, even if it's just to say hi."
Exactly!!! It IS flattering when they take the time to visit little old us :-)

Reena: It's amazing how 'plugged in' one can feel by being on Twitter or having a blog. It's an amazing community isn't it. And yes!! The recommendations are icing on the cake. I'm trying - and loving author I never would have thought of reading if it weren't for seeing such buzz online.

Carrie: Hi back at you *g* And will I be seeing you in July?

Willaful: I don't mean discussions on their books - that can be intimidating *g*. I'm thinking more like they are regular people - which they are of course - but you know what I mean :-)
I'm thinking more of joining in on less specific topics - like say this one for example *laughing*.

CLM: LOL - that would be very peculiar wouldn't it? One of the really fun workshops at RT was one with Sabrina Jeffries hosted and 'Jane Austen' dropped in and Sabrina tried explaining some of the variations on Pride and Prejudice. It was a real hoot - and 'Jane' was EXCELLENTLY done - with the clothing, the mannerisms and the accent one would think she really would have had.

Kristie (J) said...

Jessica: Romance Reading Blogging really is a labour of love isn't it? It's because we readers really are passionate about the books, the authors and the genre. It has made SUCH a difference in my life in so many areas. Where once I hid my mania for it, now EVERYONE I work with knows what I read and why I read. And what's more, I've been able to share many books with my coworkers. Sitting around in down times discussing Eve and Roarke, or whether Stephanie should go with Joe or Ranger is such fun! It was a hoot the other day - I was trying to think of a book a Danielle Steele reader would like. I asked her about:
Vampire romance - her answer - NO
SciFi romance - her answer - NO
Werewolf romance - her answer - NO
Western romance - her answer NO
I kept going and every suggestion and she said no to, I laughed even harder.
I finally went with In the Midnight Rain by Ruth Wind/Barbara Samuel. I'm hoping her world will open up more with less Danielle Steele *g*

Wendy: I do get why many stay away from the more controversial blogs or topics. What one says on the 'net lasts forever. But there are a lot of blogs and/or topics that are 'safe' And what's more fun than discovering a well-known author is a fan of the same baseball team - heh, heh, heh.

Dick: You raise something interesting. Now I've been a strictly romance fan for a number of years now so I can't say for certainty, but I think there is a more of a symbiotic relationship between author and reader in the romance genre. I don't cultivate close relationships with authors in general, but there are a few that have passed the author/reader relationship and developed into friendship. And I speak from experience when I say there is nothing finer than sitting around the bar during a conference with a few authors in attendance and just shooting the breeze on a wide variety of topics. Or going to lunch with an author you've admired for years and discovering that you have more in common than you think.
And writing is such a solitary career, I think (hope) that authors themselves enjoy interacting with readers who admire their work.
I can see in some cases where there might be a slight chance of an Annie Wilkes/Paul Sheldon thing, but I think on the whole, we readers are able to separate the author from her books. Rather than unhealthy, I think it's a wonderful thing - as long as the 'reader' respects the 'author' and doesn't go overboard with expectations.

Karen: I think most of us hold a great deal of respect for authors so when they 'drop by' or answer emails, it gives us that extra thrill doesn't it?

Bunnie's Mom: I've been reading for YEARS but I didn't have nearly the passion for them that I do since I started reading romance.
And see - you made my point by getting all of Joanna Bourne's books!! It doesn't take much to thrill us does it? And that thrill can turn into sales for the author - and then there's word of mouth - and etc. etc. *g*

Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

I loved your post! I know I've been dropping hints for more than a year now that indicated I was hoping you'd read my debut novel "Fire at Midnight." I stopped hinting after awhile because I felt I was being obnoxious. My second novel, "Stolen Promise," is out now, and just when I was hoping you might read it, you mentioned that you were tired of historicals, so I thought....well, it's just not in the cards for Kristi to read my work. Still, I wanted to share with you that Fire at Midnight just won the IPPY Gold Medal for romance and you know who else won that award in 2008...yes, Judith James for Broken Wing. I love Judy's work and this news was more encouraging to me than I can express!

I reallly enjoy your blogs, even if I don't always comment.

Lisa Marie

Kristie (J) said...

Lisa: *laughing* As a matter of fact, just the other night I checked out Chapters online to see if Stolen Promise was in stock - it wasn't the last time I was there - and I did look. And it IS in in the store and is on my list of books to pick up next time I go - probably when my Kobo comes in. And *gulp* I've yet to read Fire at Midnight - though I do have it and certainly plan on reading it. And you are one of the authors I was thinking of. I love seeing your comments and wouldn't NOT think of getting your books.
And congratulations and a big thumbs up on the win for Fire at Midnight!! Now I really will have to read it. I'm pretty sure I know where it is - on one the upstairs shelves.

Nicole McLaughlin said...

This is an interesting topic. As a lifelong reader, I am absolutely thrilled when an author connects to me as a reader in any form (email, facebook, blog comment). It has only been since I've been reading romance that this has happened. Although it's hard to say...maybe its been since I've been a reader with internet. The web is an amazing thing with many pros and many cons. I don't think there is anything wrong or strange with an author commenting or corresponding with readers...I also don't have anything against authors who don't. I remember being a young girl and being obsessed with The Babysitters Club. If I could have gotten on a computer and sent Ann M. Martin an email I would have done it in a heartbeat...If she would have replied I would have been over the moon. I also love how the internet has allowed us to get more into their mind and process. When I love an authors work, I want to know about him/her. It's a very personal thing, the attachment you feel to an author of a book you love. Blogs are amazing, we have to embrace this new way of things. I think it takes things to a whole new level, however it requires a level of respect for reader and author alike. On the flip side.....I would be SCARED TO DEATH to peruse reader blogs if I was an author!! lol

Nicole McLaughlin said...

Ok, point proven. Lisa Marie Wilkinson...I'm now going to get your books. Although its not because you commented and that makes you worthy (although it's very cool and you sound like a cool person!) but because I just straight out didnt know of your books until just now. It's tough to get your name out there as an author...why NOT get out there and pimp your wares! There are a lot of choices for us readers, I'm still amazed that as MUCH as I read I can still find new authors and new books. Its good thing books are like crack and we can ingest a lot of books in a year!!

Lisa Marie Wilkinson said...

Kristi J and Nicole Mc:
You two ladies rock! Thank you for playing along with me in good humor. I know I've pestered Kristi about my two books, but mainly because I love many of the same books she does and I've been so darn curious to know what she thought of mine!

You are so right about it being difficult for a new author to get their name out there. I am with a smaller publisher (Medallion Press) so it's doubly hard to compete with the new authors who have the bigger marketing plans behind them. I always worry that I'm making a nuisance of myself with "read me! read me!" but if I don't get out there and make an effort, no one's going to know I've even written a book or two.

I try to be sensitive and avoid forums where I sense that the posters become uncomfortable when an author posts...there are a couple of big book review sites where you won't see anything from me. If you're a fan of the Romantic Times forums, I post there quite often because I joined long before my first book was published and the folks there have embraced me as one of their own and don't mind my little bits of promo from time to time. I LOVE my readers. Without them, there would be no reason for me to write, so they are all little miracles to me.

Sherry Thomas said...

This reminded me that I while I linked to your review of HIS AT NIGHT on my website, I forgot to do it from my blog. So I fixed that right away. :-)

I'm usually a lurker and I am especially reluctant to comment on a blog if it first comes to my attention by reviewing one of my books. Whether a reviewer likes it or not, I feel they should have the freedom to discuss a book without me showing up to say something about it.

So if I do comment, it is usually on non-review topics. For example, I'll save myself the trouble of going to the other post and just say, the yard looks really nice. But the first thing I'm going to do when my kids are out of the house is to ditch the house altogether for a nice loft somewhere. No more landscaping ever!

Kristie (J) said...

Sherry - thanks *g*.
And I often have more fun doing the non-romance type posts. When I do one of those, I hope anyone feels free to comment. It was amazing for example, how many comments I got on one about toilet paper and my first ever purchase of Charmin *big grin* I think buying toilet paper is one everyone relates too.