You Have an Opinion and It Matters

Karin Kallmaker Readers and Libraries

I love your books. More people should read them!

It’s a corollary to “I love lesbian books! How come so many lesbians don’t know they exist?” These are statements and questions often uttered at Golden Crown conventions and I don’t attend an event where someone doesn’t say something along those lines. The follow-up is often something like, “What Can I do to help?”

First off, you’re already helping.

Every time a reader tells a writer how she feels about her books (even if the comment includes something negative) the writer gets a deposit to her psychic bank. At the Academy of Bards they call it “feeding the bard.” Writers who feel unappreciated lose their happy place and it can show in their work, that is, if they keep writing.

You can’t have fans of books if the books don’t exist. I know that seems patently obvious, but truly, a few words that show you read and appreciated the writer’s effort can be the reason an author picks up her pen.

You wonderful readers also already do the other important thing for many writers: You vote with your wallets. You pay for your entertainment. With the discouraging news of pirated eBooks, the economy, and the shrinking retail space given to lesbian titles, I don’t know a writer who isn’t looking at diminishing royalties. Every book sold is a drop of rain from reader heaven. Times are tough and on behalf of all my sisters of the pen, thank you for buying books

If you’re still looking for something to do, probably the easiest thing you can do is turn the kind words you said or wrote to the author into a short review. Post it wherever you hang out in the cyberworld.

Though many of us are troubled by some of Amazon’s practices, there’s no doubt it’s the Go-To source for reviews. Even a short, heartfelt comment can make an author’s day and encourage one more person to give a book a try.

When I suggest writing reviews, the statement I hear back is “But I don’t know how to do that!” Yes, you do. You did it when you spoke to me in person or on Facebook or sent me that email. You bought the book. You read the book. You have an opinion and it matters.

When it comes to getting the word out about a book you loved, don’t worry about mentioning leitmotifs and narrative texture – in the casual cyberworld, “review” is probably closer to “feedback” or “advisory.” You’re not talking to critics in the New York Times and the English teacher with a red pen, you’re talking to other readers, your friends, your family and, usually, the author too.

Speak from the heart:

I just finished reading Warming Trend twice I love it, as I love all your books, I feel I’m right there and part of the story, you write such beautiful stories, they are so real to me.

Share your story:

Her books were among the first I came across during my coming out phase, and it was SUCH a pleasure to find others like me in a book. I carried it with me everywhere for a week.

Say how you felt when you finished:

I liked Maybe Next Time and read it in an afternoon. It got really sad but the ending was worth it, though, I wanted to dance. I did like it, but maybe the next book won’t need so many hankies!

Each of these comments I culled from recent notes and posts I’ve received. I’m among the lucky authors who hears from readers regularly. I am regularly fed, but even the veterans like me have hunger pangs, from time to time.

Once again, thank you readers, for your care and feeding of this bard. Without you I’m a madwoman sitting in a corner, talking to herself. I’ve often promised and I’ll do so again: I’ll keep writing if you’ll keep reading.

Copyrighted material.

Comments 3

  1. I'm not someone who usually writes directly to authors and that sort of thing, but I can certainly see your point about needing to be fed! So let me take this opportunity to mention that I own every single one of your books that has been published so far, and also own several anthologies you have stories in.

    It all started way back when with In Every Port. (Yeah, I'm that old too!) If I remember right I think it was published in '89? Somewhere around there. I came out in 1985 and started slowly building my lesbian library with books by Jane Rule and the usual culprits like Ruby Fruit Jungle, Patience and Sarah, and Curious Wine.

    In Every Port, along with Curious Wine and Pembroke Park, were my favorites in my early library. I still reread all of them every couple of years. A few of your others I've reread occasionally also, but In Every Port is a sentimental favorite. Now I'm just waiting for it to become available in ebook format from Bella to buy again for my next reread! Maybe you can give them a nudge for me? 😉

    Thank you sincerely for all the years of reading pleasure you have provided for me and so many other lesbians.

    Robin in Seattle

    p.s. You're right about Amazon reviews. Even when I'm shopping on other sites like Bella Books or Bold Strokes I have the Amazon site open to look at book reviews. I've done a few reviews but I guess I should get better at doing them more often!

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