Readers and Writers: A Delicate Balance
This is part of a multi-part series regarding some potential pitfalls and difficulties on both sides of the reader/writer relationship. It's important to note that different writers (and readers) will have different comfort levels. It has been a surprise for me how many authors suffer from serious social anxiety, it's always important to remember that you cannot own another person and while the writer does not have an excuse to treat another poorly, sometimes they may not, for their own mental well-being, be able to engage with you in the way you would prefer.
This series will focus mainly on things I've observed about writer/reader interactions. It will in no way be a blanket statement of how it is appropriate for all readers to interact with all writers, or vice versa.
Some subjects we'll be covering:
- Do writers have an obligation to readers?
- Should the writer be the reader's friend?
- Does the reader owe the writer financial support?
- What about reviews?
- How can I positively interact with a writer?
Part Five: How can I positively interact with a writer?
So, yeah, there has been a lot of what 'not to do' in this series so far ... both for the writer and the reader. However, a lot of it, if you really think about it, is just common sense and courtesy. It's taking into account that you can't really know what's going on in the writer's life and the writer can't know what's going on with yours. We don't know each others schedules or social anxieties.
However, I have yet to meet a writer who didn't say reader interaction was in some way meaningful to them. A lot of times a nice email telling them how much you loved their book or a review saying the same may come at exactly the right time.
A professional writer will most likely NEVER respond to a review. It's considered taboo for various reasons, even if the review is positive, but that doesn't necessarily mean they don't see and appreciate them.
You can also follow the author on social media and interact with their posts. They'll often ask questions of their reader pool (I've let my social media followers name minor characters when I'm stumped and don't want to just stab my finger at a name in a phone book or something), and who knows? You may get an opportunity to influence their next story!
If you get a chance to meet a writer, treat them like you would any other person ... and yeah, it could be awkward. Meeting strangers is always awkward. A lot of writers don't like talking about themselves ... but most love to answer questions about their books.