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1. Every author wants everyone to read and love their books.

2. This will never happen.

3. The world's nicest people sometimes write books I don't care for

4. While I am not, sadly, the world's nicest person, I also write books that people simply don't care for.

5. If you don't care for my books--or even actively dislike them--I don't want you to duck out of sight anytime our paths cross. Unless you actively dislike me, in which case, go ahead.

6. I don't expect everyone to like my books. I've spent many, many years working in a bookstore where one of my chief joys is to match people with books they will actually like. This has caused me to develop certain reflexive habits. For instance:

Young boy at Confluence: A lot of my friends say your books are really good. Which one should I start with?

Me, standing at Larry & Sally's very fabulous display in the dealer's room: Well, what other authors and books have you read? What other books have you enjoyed?

Him: I really liked Old Man's War, by John Scalzi. Oh, and Ghost Brigades, and the Last Colony (which I once again mistyped as the Lost Colony, gah). (He then mentions a few more books--all SF).

Me: Well, those are all science fiction, and all of my books are fantasy novels. I'm not sure that you'll actually like them. But there are a number of authors I do think you'll like if you liked the Scalzi.

7. I don't expect everyone to read my books. Any of them. I am happy when people read them. I am grateful. But I am not conversely angered, irritated or depressed when they don't.

Not only do I not require you to come up to me and preface our first conversation with "I'm really sorry I haven't gotten around to reading your books yet…" or "I'm really sorry I haven't picked up your books yet…", but sometimes it's a little awkward to start said first conversation with reassurances that you haven't offended me. I know I can be a bit of an ogre--but not so much of one that I feel you've no business speaking to me at all if you haven't read my books--or if you've read them and hated them, or worse, were bored to tears. I haven't in all likelihood listened to your music, seen your art or inspected the electrical work you did on the construction site in your real life job -- and I don't want to have to feel horribly guilty for that, either.

Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
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mtlawson
Aug. 1st, 2010 11:17 pm (UTC)
That was a great post, Michelle!

I loved how you handled the young man's questions at Confluence. Having a career in the IT industry, I can relate to that.

sartorias
Aug. 1st, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
*nodnodnod*
(Anonymous)
Aug. 1st, 2010 11:41 pm (UTC)
Your books
Books, I didn't know you wrote books. Forget about having someone like them, the fact that they are written at all is a wonderous thing. So suggest a book you wrote that you'd like someone to read.

Alex
asakiyume
Aug. 1st, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
So, so well said! (sartorias linked to your entry, so here I am!)
karenhealey
Aug. 1st, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
Ditto!
holmes44
Aug. 1st, 2010 11:55 pm (UTC)
great post even if i do have all your books.
madrobins
Aug. 2nd, 2010 12:22 am (UTC)
Here, here. What you said!

In fact, I'm always a little surprised and overwhelmed when someone says they have read my books. And then delighted. But first, surprised.
(Deleted comment)
karenmiller
Aug. 2nd, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
And this would be why you are, in fact, the bees' knees.
estara
Aug. 2nd, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
or - as a matter of preference - the dogs' bollocks.
johnlevitt
Aug. 2nd, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
That's a brilliant post. I feel exactly the same way, but I couldn't have written it so clearly.
nelc
Aug. 2nd, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
I'm not sure that you should be ready to jump to the assumption that SF readers don't read fantasy. I read both, and even the odd mainstream book from time to time. If the boy knows that you're a fantasy writer and is asking about your books, then mentioning one of them wouldn't be out of order, I think.
msagara
Aug. 2nd, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
I'm not sure that you should be ready to jump to the assumption that SF readers don't read fantasy

I don't generally--but I do ask what they've read that they like, and if it's all SF, I tend to start recommendations in that direction. I did mention my own, because he was very politely persistent, but given that all of his answers were SF titles... and, well. I did say it's an ingrained response...
(Deleted comment)
camille_is_here
Aug. 2nd, 2010 01:47 am (UTC)
Yeah. I always kind of wonder why a stranger who hasn't read any of my books would want to engage me in conversation anyway, and I suppose that announcing they haven't read them at least stops me grasping for that as a conversational gambit. Better to get it out in the open than stumble on it in the middle of the interaction. But maybe I just think that way because I am awkward around strangers.
msagara
Aug. 2nd, 2010 01:52 am (UTC)
Yeah. I always kind of wonder why a stranger who hasn't read any of my books would want to engage me in conversation anyway

Sometimes at conventions people will say or do things I think are brilliantly funny or really thought-provoking or even heart-breaking on panels. I often haven't met them and don't know who they are otherwise--but I could see myself wanting to speak with them after.

Sometimes they want to introduce themselves because other people have said reasonable things about me. Sometimes they just like my dress. I don't know -- I can think of a lot of reasons why, at a convention, people who've never read my books would want to be social. And since part of the reason I'm out and about is to be social, I don't want them to somehow feel they don't have the right to even speak with me without apologizing for not reading the books, if that makes sense.
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scott_lynch
Aug. 2nd, 2010 02:10 am (UTC)
Oh god yes doubleplus indeed.

I know people are usually just trying to be extremely polite when they introduce themselves with some variant of "I'm so sorry, I have to admit I've never read your stuff," but honestly...

it's a-okay! It's not a crime! We'll get through this.

After all, I don't walk around telling people "You know, I hate to admit it, but you've never filed any human resources paperwork for me," or "I feel terrible about this, but I've never actually had one of your colonoscopies."
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book_wench
Aug. 2nd, 2010 03:14 am (UTC)
Yes! What you said. I am such a little-known author that I'm actually pleased if anyone's heard of my books, much less read them.
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( 39 comments — Leave a comment )