I’ve been a reader my whole life, and books are as necessary to me as a toothbrush and clean underwear. But after a career writing for television, I assumed (at least in the circles I swam in) that no one read. Not really. In the world of television, it’s more about What are you watching? Did you see that episode of such-and-such? Very little is said about books unless they happen to make the leap into being made into movies or a TV series. And it’s not because Los Angeles is filled with vapid people; understandably, executives and writers in the entertainment industry spend their days reading scripts, which is very different than reading novels.
So, when I wrote my first novel WHAT LIES WITHIN, and it was published via Kindle Press, I was both exhilarated and sad. Exhilarated for obvious reasons, but sad because I assumed that reading was going the way of newspapers – that only a small niche of the population actually read when compared to all the other options available: video games, movies, TV, surfing the ‘net, or a multitude of other diversions.
I’d read over and over about the Decline of Reading and how people like watching videos on Facebook over reading text. Until I discovered (late, to be sure) Goodreads. I found a community there that spans the globe of active, engaged, passionate readers; individuals with strong opinions about the work writers put forth. It astounded me. It invigorated me. Writing novels might never make me rich, but here was a community that appreciated the written word over film-and-TV’s passive spectacle. Seriously, how beautiful is that magical symbiosis between reader and writer?
And yet, I was warned again and again by fellow writers: do not engage. As if the readers there were the enemy, rather than co-operative imaginative partners. True, I’ve heard of authors acting like pouty gods on the Mount in the face of a poor review, or some reviewers taking too much glee in dishing out scathing sarcasm, but I have a fundamental belief that people are essentially good. Most people, at least.
I’ve had nothing but positive experiences so far. (Mind you, I didn’t say all positive reviews: I wish!) But I’ve treated my readers with respect, and I like to think they reciprocate. As for reviews that may sting the ego, well, it only shows how subjective and individual the reading experience is. The same book will draw reactions from love to hate. The very same book! Not everyone likes me, and I certainly don’t like everyone, either. So how can anyone expect the same from a single book?
And if I’m honest with myself: some reviews have pointed out things I may keep in mind with future projects. So I welcome Goodreads and its readers who make the writing worthwhile.