Respecting the Readers


About ten years ago (has it really been that long?), I did actor David Hedison’s website.  The other person and I who managed it were very cautious about our approach.  We knew that we represented him with the site and we didn’t want do anything that would change his image.  So we stayed professional.  It was about the acting and the shows he’d been in.

Cut to today.

I went through my Facebook friends and unfollowed a bunch of writers.  The reason was pretty simple: They didn’t respect me as a reader.

There are a lot of ways a writer can land in this area.  One is a writer being nasty in public to the people buying the books.  I haven’t seen this with writers myself, though I’ve heard stories.  I have seen it with actors who blast a show they were on, the people associated with it, and by association, the people who like the show.

Another did happen to me.  There’s a fantasy trilogy I really liked.  It used to be a periodic reread for me.  One day I commented on my blog about the major storytelling technique I liked about the story.  The writer came on the blog and said she was revising that major storytelling technique in the books because she’d learned a lot since then and what she’d done was a newbie mistake.  It was, well, insulting.  I liked how she used this technique, and it was the reason this story was a periodic reread–and she was revising it to be “better”?  I haven’t reread the books since or gotten any new ones.

Still another happened a few months back.  I was on a entrepreneur coaching site for women.  It was a site that was supposed to be friendly and encouraging.  The owner had recently come out with a non-fiction book.  As a teaching lesson for the members, she called one star reviewers “haters.”  I’ve done one star reviews.  Reviews are not to stroke writer egos–they’re a reader’s opinion about the book. Writers should never get involved in that part of the process.  I objected politely and pointed out that someone in the group could have given it a one star review (I did not review the book.  Glad I didn’t.  It wasn’t a five star book).  The owner told me it was her group and she could do what she wanted; she’d intended the “hater” comment as friendly and encouraging for the members.  The group no longer felt friendly and encouraging so I self-edited.  What she didn’t know was that I’d been playing around with the idea of using her coaching services.  She lost that business because she didn’t respect her audience–only the ones who gave her glowing reviews.  If someone asked me for a recommendation for a coach, it wouldn’t be to her.

Then there’s the fourth one, and it’s gotten me on two writers.  It’s politics.  Hands down, the worst thing for writers, because you alienate half your audience!  There’s an award winning science fiction writer.  I signed up on Facebook to follow him thinking I would get pearls of wisdom because he teaches on writing.  Instead, it was in your politics.  As in, “if you don’t agree with me, I’m going to ban you!”  I unfollowed him because I couldn’t deal with his nastiness.  Saw a story of his in SF&F Magazine.  Passed it by.

The second writer (some of you will know who I’m talking about) wrote in one of her books to writers to stay away from openly being political because of the impact on readers.  Then she broke own rules and veered into a couple of political posts, one on her blog and several on Facebook.  She didn’t say much, but what she did say was enough to leave a bad taste for me.  It was an instant turn off because she was nasty and she assumed everyone agreed with her opinion.  She’s a fantastic, award-winning writer, produces a lot of new books, and I haven’t touched a book of hers since those comments.

Disrespecting your readers = just bad all around.

7 thoughts on “Respecting the Readers

  1. I think a lot of people struggle with this in the era of social media. When it takes a single click to broadcast every single stray thought to the entire world, it’s just so easy to forget that words have meaning.
    (I’m not going to pretend I’m not guilty of this, either!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Peggy

    For me, the politics part also relates to the writing, not just the writers.

    I stopped reading one historical romance author because she inserted a same-sex couple into EVERY book – with no socio-political consequences. In fact, people around the couples justified their relationships in a tone that implied if anyone disagreed, that person was wrong or evil or both. The period she writes in is not known for being same-sex friendly, so the lack of consequences struck me as, well, preachy – and while I have no prejudice against same-sex couples (or, really, any combination of consenting adults), I DO find it irritating, vexing, and offensive to be preached at.

    I’m not on social media, so I have no idea whether the author preaches her philosophy more directly than that, but still she lost a regular reader in me, and possibly in others who dislike being preached at.

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  3. Hi Linda, Great topic. One the first, I haven’t witnessed this in person. But through the interwebs and social media I’ve seen some writers who have taken their sales numbers a little too close to heart and have bitched in public about readers “spending 5 bucks on their morning Starbucks, but can’t justify buying my $2.99 book.” Things like that, which say a lot more about the writer than the reader and his/her Starbucks.

    The second reinforces a belief I hold dear about my released work (I’m new only 2 books out), which is that it stays on the market. The work is complete. If readers contact me with a typo or something, I’m happy to change that on the eBook. But, I’m not returning to re-work story because I’ve become embarrassed of my beginning work. I’d never thought of it from the standpoint you mention. Once the work is out there…it’s the readers, and there’s no way of knowing if what I would revise ruins the work for the reader.

    I try not to read reviews. See ‘try.” LOL. I do think it’s unfair to give credence to the good reviews, and claim the bad reviews belong to “haters.” I would hope this is being said with tongue in cheek, but again on the internet…there is A LOT of bitching about 1 star reviews. My postiion? James Lee Burke is my favorite living writer. He gets his share of 1 star reviews. If/when I start collecting them, I’m going to read some of Mr. Burke’s as a reminder.

    On politics, I am 100% fine with artists sharing their political opinions either in their work or publicly, as long as they are able to do so respectfully. (Yes, this can be done) I don’t expect a writer to steer from political or sociological work for fear of isolating 50% of their audience. I think the respect works both ways. IF (big if) the writer is respectful in the presentation, then the reader bears some responsibility on the respect front, as well IMO. This is actually a big topic. There also huge dangers to the artist from their own “side”, as the political beast will try to take ownership. Yes, so, fine line.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. >>>have bitched in public about readers “spending 5 bucks on their morning Starbucks, but can’t justify buying my $2.99 book.”

      Whenever I see something like this as well, my visceral reaction is to say, “Well, maybe you should write a book worth 5 bucks.” But then I realize I’d already wasted too much brain power on the thought and move on. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeah–I’ve seen a writer revise her already published novel because of reader reviews, figuring if they didn’t like something, it was a call for action to fix it. Another writer would send her novel out, get a form rejection, revise it, send it back out again. Such an incredible waste of time.

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