Readers play a larger part in the modern literary world than they know. I’m in my early 30’s, and remember my role in novels before the age of the internet. I was just a buyer of books, or a borrower of books from the library. That’s it. There was no way for me to contact an author, or let them know what I thought of their book. Authors just wrote, and expected to move units. The only thing I knew about an Author was what I read in the about me section. That was the limit of the Author/Reader relationship.
Now I’m on the other side. I’m an Author in the internet age. My social media sites are just as important as my publishing sites. Many readers will search for an Author’s website, or check them out on Facebook. They’ll follow them on Twitter. They’ll join their mailing list, or follow their blog. If some readers don’t find anything on their Author, they will find other Authors. We live in an age when people get automated updates. No one waits for months to do a search and hope that a new book is available.
So what role does a reader play in this modern literary age? You influence the Author. You interact with them. You can give them input, and feedback. You encourage an Author to keep writing. Authors don’t have to worry if they’re reaching someone. They can know that they are, and that’s often enough motivation to start that next book.
I remember my first interaction with a stranger reaching out to me from nowhere. At first I thought, what’s going on? Who is this person, and what are they…. Then it clicked. Oh sh*t! It’s someone who read my book, and they loved it! I was ecstatic. Hearing from an unbiased reader did more good for me than I could ever have imagined. This was someone with nothing to gain letting me know they enjoyed something that I wrote. I was so excited and nervous at the same time that it took me ten minutes to formulate a reply.
The best thing to hear is that someone enjoyed your story. Your story is a labor of love. You created a literary universe that someone lost themselves in. It was good enough to keep them reading until the end. They read the story, and could picture the universe in their head. It’s the best validation you can get. All those hours of work for months on end were worth it!
Readers also play another part. In the past, the agents and publisher houses controlled everything. Author’s books moved up or down based on fiscal, and impersonal decisions. An Author’s book may be shelved just because. Now things are different. Readers can dictate if a book is given attention or not. Readers can bring visibility to books. You can leave a review, and tell others about the book. Reviews will boost the Author’s books on book sale sites. This will get the book into other reader’s hands and you will have other people to discuss the book with.
You can also go to several online social media sites and talk about the book or leave reviews. You can share the book links, and ask your library to buy the book. There are so many things a reader can do. You don’t have to spend a dime to do those things. Without spending a penny, you just helped your favorite Author stay an Author. Your help is not invisible, and will not go unnoticed.
A reader may have discovered a book by an Author who is about to give up writing. The Author may have been suffering through a slump where no one is reading their story. The Author might believe that no one wants to read what they write, and they’ll pack away their pens. Just hearing from one fan could be what stops that Author from retiring. It may seem unrealistic, but hearing from one fan can be enough to keep an Author going.
So if you’re a reader, go interact with your favorite Author! Look them up online, and see if they have pages you can contact them at. You’ll be surprised at how accessible Authors are now a days. At the very least, go look at all of the books you bought online. Think about what it will mean to those Authors if they see a new review/rating for their book. It isn’t something Authors ignore, and they’ll cherish what you thought of them forever.
So go leave ratings and reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, Apple, Nook, or wherever you got your new favorite book at. You can also do it for that classic book that you read when you were little and you’ve always loved but aren’t sure if a review or rating will even matter. The best part is that you don’t even have to write a long review of the book, you could just say how awesome it was. You don’t even have to buy the book at that time to leave that rating and review. It’s one of the easiest things you can do, and also the most powerful thing you can do as a reader to support your new found favorite Author.