No one likes to see negative book reviews. However, if you earn a negative review or two out of many, don’t despair. This event likely means strangers who have no personal interest in you, but are reading books only for themselves, are engaged with your work. That’s great news!
Where Are the Readers?
Keep in contact with potential readers so they’ll be amenable to your books and eager to see them released. Find a fan base willing to follow your career through newsletters, social media, and books.
However, authors can’t force connections. Many Christians are engaged in my life but couldn’t care less about my work as a literary agent. When I wrote books for publication, many weren’t interested in reading them, either. To further my career, I conversed with people I didn’t know but who wanted to read my books. Authors must keep in touch with readers today as well.
Platform can be confusing, partly because no magic formula says, “This many followers on this many platforms equals a book contract.” Publishers continue to talk about engagement, however.
Publishing may have little in common with the music industry. Yet I have a story regarding voting for a music artist, which is much like someone “voting” for or against an author’s book with a review. Years ago, an acquaintance asked me for a personal favor. Would I go on a website and vote for their band to be selected to perform at a music festival? You may say, “What’s the problem?”
These are only a few of the problems for me:
1. Most important, the band’s lyrics were hostile toward Christianity.
2. I didn’t know any of the other bands in the competition, so my vote would not be fair.
3. I had no intention of attending the festival, so I didn’t feel I had a right to vote.
I took heat for declining, including from outsiders who felt invested in this band, which perfectly illustrates engagement.
I don’t regret my decision not to participate. I wasn’t a fan. Likewise, regarding books, authors must focus on those who want to read their work. Friends and family can offer encouragement but are not, nor should they be, the author’s solitary fan base.
What Does This Mean?
No author can or should be best friends with thousands of readers. But friendly and consistent interaction, demonstrating that the author has an audience or, in the case of a new author, the potential to reach people sincerely interested in their books, shows the author is devoted to and appreciates readers. My favorite authors are those who care about pleasing their readers.
And by the way. While writing this post, I received a text from someone invested in my career as a literary agent. She commented on a book I sent her to read. Our readers are there. Genuine interest in them does more than increase sales. Attention deepens relationships, warms the heart and soul, and enriches all our lives. To God be the glory!