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.





52 thoughts on “Guest Blogger Susan M. Toy”

  1. What a lovely and sincere post. As a writer I can say that these are truly the things we appreciate; people reading our words. I have purchased many books based on referrals from friends, readers and other authors myself. And I’m only too happy to share great book referrals to others. 🙂


  2. Reviews do take time, but I have a lot of family and friends that I don’t see on a regular basis because of distance, who look forward to the reviews I write. I take the leg work out of choosing a book for them.
    My policy is to screen all books before accepting a book for review. If, by chance, it doesn’t turn out as expected and I can’t give it a positive review (3-5 stars – 3 usually due to a great number of grammatical errors), I contact the author and tell them I won’t be reviewing it. By doing this, I am sparing the author from having a lower rating made public. The primary reason I blog reviews is to promote the books and authors I love. I know I have been criticized for giving positive reviews, but those who follow my blog do not see the books I’ve read and chose not to review. I do review a lot of books by Indie authors and and have found that many of them do not hire editors or proofreaders to polish their books before publication. The book may have many redeeming qualities, but is simply not ready for publication. Since I don’t bash the book or the author, my comments are generally well received.
    I do appreciate Susan’s thoughts on reviews, and I admit, there are times I simply want to enjoy a book without the pressure of writing a review.


    1. macjam47, you and other book bloggers provide the entire industry with such a valuable service. It’s said that, out of an audience of 100, you can expect up to 9 people will react (1 person is the creator) and the remaining 90 will be passive. So anyone who does read books and write reviews professionally is a saint as far as I’m concerned, because you review with authority and experience and your audience trusts you to steer them in the right direction. You do the vetting for those other 90 readers who we may not otherwise hear from at all. You provide that “conversation” about books that is so integral to this word-of-mouth promotion I’m talking about, and for that, I cannot thank you enough!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t like to promise anything to anybody because life gets in the way of lots of plans these days. This post takes away the weight of writing a review, which may or may not lessen the enjoyment of the read. ❤


  4. Well said Susan…. I am an avid reader and most of what I read comes my way through family and friends recommendations…

    Thank you Amy for posting Susan’s comments… It certainly drives home the Review vs Recommendation point of view….


    As Always, “Keep Reading and Writing”.


  5. A nice twist to the author guest post. Conversations about reading and books, (so much nicer than ones about TV series and celebrities) bring up ideas to think about and explore with others. Books as a starting point- not jsut something to read and then put away. Best recommendations come from friends – too many odd people in online reviews to take seriously.
    Susan always has gems to share.


  6. All so true, but I have to admit that it’s always satisfying to me when someone posts a review out of the clear blue sky — someone I don’t know and who bought a book of mine completely independently and thought enough of it to take a few minutes to review it.

    But of course, to each his own!


    1. I agree, Kevin, that it’s satisfying to receive those surprise reviews, but no readers should ever feel pressured to review everything they read, especially when they’re not in the habit of doing so. It’s the begging for reviews that I and so many other readers object to. But there are many other ways readers can help spread the word that may lead to a sale to someone who does regularly write reviews of what they read. You just never know where this word-of-mouth may take your books.


  7. Reviews can be prejudiced – and both ways. For a first time author, however, book reviews do matter a hell of a lot. Provided, of course, that they are directed towards the writing rather than the author.


    1. I know what you mean about reviews, dr sweetyshinde, but there are other ways we can all be promoted and also receive feedback on our work. I wouldn’t necessarily trust the comments I read in many of the online reviews. Those comments often say a lot more about the reviewer than the book or author they’re reviewing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What I dislike is when reviews waste precious space & words copy-pasting book blurb and author bio. I mean, that part is available for all. Why don’t they concentrate on the gist, the juice, the pulp?
        Yes, I know many reviews, especially 5 and 1 star have suspicious intent.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on blindoggbooks and commented:
    Every author loves (positive) reviews, but many people are uncomfortable writing them, so Susan Toy has a way they can help which is equally, if not more effective…and much easier!


  9. What you say is so true. I have had people read my book and ask me about things that happened to the not so important characters after the story’s ending. That to me is so exciting. Or tell me the book made them laugh and cry, which is what I did when I wrote it. Those things are so much more gratifying than sales numbers. Thank-you for the post!!


    1. Thanks for the comment, SD Gates! It’s responses like these from readers that prove they’re engaged with the stories we’re telling and sometimes are just as excited about reading them as we are in telling them. You just can’t buy that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s just so exciting when people get what you were saying and understand. You are right, money cannot buy that kind of satisfaction!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on Tricia Drammeh and commented:
    An excellent letter from an author to readers. I’ve discovered many excellent books through word of mouth. Reviews are appreciated, but a simple letter from a reader is probably the most amazing thing an author can receive. Thanks for writing this, Susan. And thank you, Amy, for posting this on your blog.


  11. Susan and I have discussed reviews before, but this is a thought-provoking and interesting post. One that may well not receive whole-hearted from the indie author community, but a view that is equally valid as ‘please, you MUST write a review’.

    And, it has to be said, Susan is one of the authors who accepts all comments about her work, whether positive or critical. Not all authors do. In my experience I’ve not found a lot of authors too keen on readers/reviewers pointing out flaws …


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, roughseas! As you mention, we have discussed this topic previously and I definitely came around to your way of thinking. It’s not the number of reviews we receive that mater so much as the quality and helpfulness of those reviews, because we can all stand to improve our writing. And those personal recommendations are just icing on the cake.


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