When a Loyal Reader Becomes Much More by Kathy Bennett
From the title of this piece you might be imagining a torrid love affair between an author filled with tragic stories of angst and a fawning bibliophile. That’s not what this article is about. I do want to talk about the relationship between readers and authors, but I promise no one will behave inappropriately.
When I published my first book, A Dozen Deadly Roses, I didn’t have a clue if anyone was going to buy it. Then the question remained, if anyone did buy the book, would they like it? Some readers loved the book, some thought it was okay, and some hated it. And I’m okay with that.
Of course, I loved reading the reviews (yes, I read them and I suspect most authors occasionally take a peek.) But I won’t lie, the harsh reviews hurt – and I’ve got thick skin. I try not to dwell on the less than glowing reviews, but I also try to relate to why a particular reader was dissatisfied with my story.
I certainly understand that not everyone is going to love everything I write. But occasionally an angry reader (someone who’s spent their money, they didn’t like the story, and now they’re angry) says something I should take to heart.
One angry reader of my second book, A Deadly Blessing, really hated the ending and the way my protagonist behaved. And you know what? The guy was right. From his scathing review, my next book, A Deadly Justice, was born. My only regret is that the disappointed reader said he’d never read another thing I wrote, and I hate that he won’t see how his harsh words inspired me and my heroine, Maddie Divine.
But what about the readers who aren’t angry? Where do they fit in? Most readers who like my books get to The End, close the book and that’s the end of it until I have a new book out.
A very few will leave reviews wherever they purchased the book. Some, if they’re really into the book world, will go to Goodreads, or Shelfari or other websites to talk about the book. Even better is when they spread the word by mouth about how much they liked the book.
Then…ahh…then there are the readers who actually take the time to write to me. Many writers call them fans. I don’t. I think of them as satisfied readers. My biggest fear is that someone will plunk down their hard-earned money for one of my stories and be dissatisfied. But these kind readers take time out of their day and their lives to write to me…and I’m always surprised, amazed, and grateful.
One reader wrote to me and told me that she liked my book, but there were a few issues with the book. The concerns she had were small details that most people wouldn’t notice. But she did, and she was right.
I wrote her back and thanked her for her kind letter and then I asked her if she’d like to be a beta reader for me. A beta reader is a person who is a final reader before the book goes out to the publishing world. Many authors use beta readers. To my surprise, the observant reader agreed.
As I gained readers, I gained exposure on Facebook by creating a reader page at www.Facebook.com/KathywritesLAPD. Readers found me there and we’d chat. We talk about my books, about my life, what they were doing in their world, etc.
Out of those satisfied readers, the Kathy Bennett SWAT Team was formed. Basically, the SWAT Team helps spread the word about my books. We have a private Facebook page where we talk daily and share tidbits from our lives. SWAT Team members get first crack at being a beta reader for me along with other perks. The first work-related thing I do each day is go to my Facebook reader page and my Facebook SWAT Team page and fill them in on what I’m up to. It’s like having a quick cup of coffee with my friends…and that’s what they are, they’re my friends, almost all of whom I’ve never met in person.
The point of this article is to let you know that for the authors you love, you’re not ‘just a reader’ or a ‘fan.’ You’re the reason we write. When I’m crafting a scene, it’s with you in mind. When I write a funny line I imagine you chuckling. When the bullets are flying I want your heart to be pounding for Maddie, and when she or other characters make poor choices, I want you to groan inwardly in dismay.
We’re in these stories together. Me in the crafting – you in the reading…and so much more.
About Kathy Bennett:
Kathy Bennett served twenty-nine years with the Los Angeles Police Department – eight as a civilian employee and twenty-one years as a sworn police officer. While most of her career was spent in a patrol car, Kathy has also been a firearms instructor at the LAPD Academy, a crime analyst in the “War Room”, a field-training officer, a senior lead officer, and undercover officer for various assignments. Kathy was named Officer of the Year in 1997, an honor she holds dear.
Kathy’s debut novel, A Dozen Deadly Roses is a bestselling e-book. Barnes & Noble chose her second novel, A Deadly Blessing, as a Best Book of 2012. Kathy’s third book, A Deadly Justice, became a bestselling police procedural novel. Readers have praised her fourth book, A Deadly Denial, as her best book yet. Kathy is currently working on her next book.
Kathy lives in Idaho with her husband and their two energetic Labrador retrievers.