Guest Blogger Susan M. Toy

This week I would like to welcome guest blogger Susan M. Toy, whose blogs I enjoy very much and who has much to teach writers:

 Kind Readers . . . Thank You!!!

 joan didion quote

Kind Readers,

Since I am an Author, you mean the world to me, because without you the words I write have no meaning at all. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the time to read what I write. You make me the Author that I am, and I owe you everything!

You, on the other hand, owe me nothing. You’ve done your bit by reading. You definitely do not owe me a written review on an online site – especially if you’re not used to writing reviews of whatever you read. I’m speaking for myself here when I say that I WILL NEVER REQUEST NOR EXPECT YOU to write a review or rate my book and writing. Whether you’ve bought either of my books or received them in a giveaway or I’ve sent you a complimentary copy – I will never, ever, ever request that you write a review. But, as I say, that’s just my attitude towards the whole review thing. And here’s why I feel this way …

I previously wrote a blog post, Most Read vs. Best Sold – my purple cow, in which I discussed a new idea I’d had for judging a book’s quality based on the number of times it had been read rather than the quantity of copies sold. You see, even though I’ve been both a bookseller and a publishing sales rep, as an Author I’m definitely not all about how well my books are selling or how much money I can make from them. I AM all about finding Readers, whatever way I can, Readers who enjoy what I write. It’s more fulfilling for me to hear directly from a Reader that they have enjoyed one of my books than to concern myself with the almighty dollar (or Euro) or worry about whether my books are selling as well as, or better than, Mr. X’s books. It’s just not worth the time I’d spend checking figures and wringing my hands, feeling all the while I must certainly be a failure. As long as just one Reader tells me they like what they read then I believe I’ve done a good job!

So you won’t hear me asking you to leave a review. (Besides having this attitude that you don’t owe me anything, Readers, I should tell you I generally don’t read those online reviews myself when making book selection decisions, so how can I expect your review of my book will ever be read by anyone else? I also wonder how many of you don’t rely on reviews, either. Hmmm …)

However, what I will ask you to consider doing is personally recommending books you read and enjoy – and not just my books, but all books you read – to your family, your friends, your co-workers and colleagues, your book club, local librarians and booksellers. Even if every Reader only tells just one friend, that’s something, because there is nothing – absolutely NOTHING! – as good as a personal recommendation. And it’s so easy to do: just mention the book’s title in a conversation; send an email to a friend you think may also like the book; post a link to the book on Facebook or Twitter simply saying you read and enjoyed the book; suggest the book to your book club/local librarian/bookseller as something they may all consider discussing/ acquiring/selling. You won’t be doing anything other than what you usually do in life, and that is carrying on a conversation with friends. Make books and reading part of your conversations. I am one Author who will be heartily appreciative if you were to do this!

And, if you wish to take this suggestion one step further, please consider writing to the Author to tell them how much you enjoyed their book. You can’t imagine what this means to me and to many other Authors – to know that you not only took the time to read what we’ve written, but that you’ve enjoyed the book enough to want to tell us, and other Readers, about your pleasure. We Authors can’t thank you enough for that, because it validates what we do by writing the book in the first place.

I received a friend request the other day (we have a mutual friend) and after I accepted, my new friend wrote the most wonderful note, telling me he had discovered my novel through a comment made by our mutual friend, and was intrigued enough to purchase a copy. Then he told me how much he was enjoying reading it! It’s the unexpected ways Readers discover our writing that thrill me, and there is nothing better than a word-of-mouth recommendation like this. So that’s why I hope Readers who feel positive about their reading experience do contact us, in one way or another. After all, most writers don’t bite! And we certainly can’t bite you on social media.

Getting back now to that “word-of-mouth” I mentioned … I’m working on developing a campaign based on this concept (or what we called “handselling” in the book business) and hope that other Readers will consider spreading the word about good books they read, not by writing reviews and posting them online – I know many of you are very shy, after all – but by doing what comes naturally and “conversing” about the books with people you already know. If it means that your friend will only read a copy they borrow from you, so be it … as long as they read the book! And you might also consider offering to purchase a copy for your local library to help them with the expense of acquiring. Or give the book as a gift, for birthdays and other occasions. Nothin’ says lovin’ like handing a friend a book you have enjoyed.

Then, hopefully, once they read it they will in turn spread the word further to their friends. Some of you are old enough to remember this Shampoo Commercial from the 1970s that illustrates my point perfectly. (Or, if you prefer, the Wayne’s World version …)

Consider doing the same for other books you read and enjoy. I’m sure I’m not the only Author who will thank you for your endorsements. I know, reviews do take time and effort to write and not everyone wants to have an online presence; a personal endorsement of anything, though, can be introduced, easily and naturally, in conversation with family, neighbours, colleagues and co-workers, librarians, booksellers – anyone you know who likes to read. As a Reader, your opinions really do matter! Really!

Thank you!!!

Susan M. Toy has been a bookseller, a publishing sales rep, an Author Impresario, and is now an Author of her own books as well as a publisher. She’s always scheming and thinking of new ways to promote ALL Authors and books and to bring Readers and Authors together.

You may contact Susan through her two blogs, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing  and Reading Recommendations.