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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.


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
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.

Aug. 1st, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
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.

Aug. 1st, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
So, so well said! (sartorias linked to your entry, so here I am!)
Aug. 1st, 2010 11:47 pm (UTC)
Aug. 1st, 2010 11:55 pm (UTC)
great post even if i do have all your books.
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.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
And this would be why you are, in fact, the bees' knees.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
or - as a matter of preference - the dogs' bollocks.
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.
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.
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)
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.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 2nd, 2010 03:36 am (UTC)
Conventiosn are a good place for finding authors. People who sound like they have interesting things to say sometimes say interesting things in their books.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC)
I actually started reading swan_tower because of a comment in another author's LJ when I had a conference call I needed to be dialed in to but not listen to (and hence a need to be entertained).

I find her LJ generally interesting, but I'm not a huge fan of her books (which I hadn't read until after about 8 months of occasional commeting in her LJ, at which point I felt somewhat of an obligation).
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."
(Deleted comment)
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.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 2nd, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
YES! A wonderful post, and I too wish I'd written it.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
Well said. I know most writers feel the same way - I just wish readers would take notice!
Aug. 2nd, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC)
All of these points make perfect logical sense to me. Though bruised egos rarely like logic, and I often have to tell mine to shut up and stop complaining already.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
I do like your books and was seriously excited to learn you had a LJ. I understand liking an author for one type of book and not liking everything they wrote. I read Nora Roberts romance extensively but won't touch her JD Robb series with a ten foot pole. I still adore her, just don't read OMG every single book shes ever come out with.
Aug. 4th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
iconlove, redux!
ahem. trying again from the journal I actually use:

Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
That's a great attitude, and just how I feel (from both sides). There are several authors I like personally whose books I haven't read, because I know I wouldn't like them, and that would be an awkward conversation.

Every author should come out and say this to avoid the elephant!
Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC)
Very well put!
Aug. 2nd, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
I frequently like a large proportion of an author's books, but there's one or so that I decide I might not enjoy reading. I am extremely diffident about telling the author so. I guess it would be OK to say something like that to you, but honestly, I haven't read anything since the Sun Sword series--but that I loved to read. My only comment is that you were juggling too many threads all at once, and I never figured out the denouement of some of them. I guess I'm too dense to understand.
Aug. 3rd, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
your books
I have this weird issue, where if I start a book, no matter how bad it is I must at least slog through that whole book. I suppose it is sort of like wasting food to me. Most times I am granted a sense of pride in keeping that streak going, other times I am rewarded with the fact that I ended up enjoying the work very much. I know this is sort of off topic but that is what your comment reminded me of. Specifically how I almost broke my streak twice with "The Sun Sword" the first book of your I had read at that point. It wasn't so much that it was bad. I was enjoying the dialog between characters and the emotions I could feel, but at about 100 pages in I was languishing and was thinking to myself, when is this going to pick up? By page 200 I was like, dear god, I have got so much info, when is it going to get anywhere. It took me around 6 weeks to get that far, which was unheard of for me. But when my mind went to giving up, I knew I would regret never having finished it. Not sure exactly when it changed but I recall it was about 200 pages from the end and it GRABBED me, didn't put it down the rest of the night. Since then oddly I have taken to reading the majority of your books out loud(mostly the dialog but other passages as well) not only does it enhance my enjoyment of the interpersonal dramas, but it makes finishing it take longer, so that I don't finish them immediately after receiving them. So while of course I am grateful to you for sharing you imagination with others, I am also glad that my stubbornness(not always my best quality)paid off so largely in this case.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )