Saturday, October 17, 2015

Calling All Readers! I Need to Know....

In 1978, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their second album, You're Gonna Get It! It was a very good year, in my humble, unbiased opinion. Any year we get new Petty is a good year, right?

I could go on for days about my life-long love affair with his music - I can listen to most of his songs in my head, no LP or iPod required. Which (sort of) explains how I Need to Know got stuck in my head this morning. Have a listen so we're on the same page-

Now I'll explain the why....
Writers need to know what their readers think. Imagine the author of the book you just read, who spent weeks/months/years writing it, singing this to you now (because she, or he is)-
"I need to know, I need to know,
If you think you're gonna leave, 
then you better say so,
I need to know, I need to know,
Because I don't know how long,
I can hold on,
If you're making me wait,
If you're leaving me behind,
I need to know, I need to know-"
                                                  -Tom Petty

Obviously not romantically speaking here, but, the jist is the same. Writers need to know whether their audience liked (loved?) what they read, or not. See where this is going?

Book reviews in the Sunday papers used to be the go-to for scoops on the lastest books. Now, with platforms like Goodreads, Amazon reviews and blogs, everyday readers have become the reviewers. Social media also plays a huge role in the game by connecting readers directly with writers to share their love, or hate, for their books.

The love is preferred, of course. It encourages more writing. Reviews on Amazon help encourage other readers, especially for indie and/or unknown authors. However, if you disagree with the ending, didn't like the writing style, or just couldn't finish the book for some reason, sharing thoughtful, honest feedback can help us improve our craft.

We may shatter breakables againt walls, scream at the computer, pout, ignore it for a few days, or vow to never write another word. But, after a good howl at the full moon, most writers will brush off their battered pride and seek kernels of truth in critcism, while disregarding outright nastiness for what it is.

The bottom line is this: writers need to know what their readers think. It doesn't have to be a detailed, critical review - just a line or two can make all the difference in a writer's world. (At least, it does in this one.)

I hope you'll keep this all in mind when you finish your next read! Wherever you are, I hope you're having a beautiful day, night, or sometime in the between....

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