Friday, October 21, 2011
Melanie Milburne: Fan etiquette
I have some lovely messages from fans from all over the world. Those messages have nearly always come at just the right moment. Usually on a day when my writing has stalled for some reason or I'm having back troubles and wonder why I put myself through the torture of long hours of sitting. And then in my inbox comes a gorgeous message that lifts my spirits and reminds me that someone out there loves what I do.
But there is a downside. Yes, there always is in life. It doesn't happen often but occasionally I get an email from an unhappy reader. Something has upset them in one of my books. Perhaps they didn't like the way a certain character behaved or they thought the heroine was too weak or too strong, or the hero too alpha or not alpha enough.
When this happens I remind myself that reading is a subjective enterprise. No two readers read a book in the same way. We all come to a book (or a movie) and view or read it through the lens of our life and experiences. That lens colours how we interpret things and make sense of our world. We have expectations when we come to a book or an author and we feel let down if they don't deliver. I've experienced it myself, but I would never dream of contacting the author and telling him or her I hated their book.
It is a reviewer's job to offer an opinion of a book and they usually do it without any sense of malice. I appreciate the time and effort it takes to read a book and then write a review. They have to really understand the controlling idea of the story and the nature of the conflict between the characters.
But what is the etiquette for fans in this digital age when everyone has an opinion on everything at the click of a mouse?
I have five suggestions on this and I would love to hear yours. I will send a signed copy of my latest release His Poor Little Rich Girl to a random poster.
1. Be polite
2. Tell the author what you liked about the book/s or their writing. If you can't think of anything then perhaps you shouldn't be reading their work at all.
3. Remember that your opinion is just your opinion. Many authors have huge fan bases and you might be the only one who doesn't like their book.
4. Give the author another chance. The publisher/editor or both might have pushed for a particular story line and the author did the best they could do with it.
5. Try writing your own story. Often when a reader is increasingly frustrated within a genre they are reading in it is a sign (in my opinion) that they are developing a writer's mindset. That's what happened to me and the rest as they say is history!
Posted by Melanie Milburne at 12:30 AM