Ugh, I spent the whole weekend feeling lousy, holed up with a migraine and icky tummy and watching TV. So to anyone who went to Frolicon hoping to see me, I apologize.
But! Today I have a fun guest post here! As I promised last week, Ann Aguirre has popped by to chitty-chat with all of you and even give away a book or two. Ann is a great writer and and very cool person and is responsible for giving UNHOLY GHOSTS my favorite blurb ever in the world (“the ultimate bible of badassery.” How awesome is that?) So without further still-trying-to-feel-better blabber from me…
The Great Divide
When I have a new book out, I often do a few guest posts to raise my profile. But I hate writing about the work itself. In my opinion, it should stand on its own… or not. There’s nothing I can say that will make anyone like my writing more—and in fact, I’ve found that trying to talk yourself up just leaves people thinking you’re a douche and not wanting to buy your books anyway. So I don’t do that.
Which often leaves me scrambling for a topic. Today, I’m writing about what’s on my mind—the idea that authors can’t be reviewers or readers. I had a conversation on Twitter about this with KatieBabs, MCVane, and CranberryTarts. If there were others involved, I apologize. Feel free to chime in here on this post and remind me what you said.
I think there does come a point where you have to choose your hat. Before I sold, I reviewed. This was mostly to get free books because I live in Mexico, and getting new fiction in English is a pain in the ass. But I did it honestly; I tried to explain why things didn’t work for me. Granted, mine is only one opinion—and it doesn’t weigh more heavily than anyone else’s. So my reviews were not of great moment. I hurt a few feelings, I am sure. That was never my intention, but it happens.
However, as my career took off, I decided I was an author first. And part of that means not slagging off my colleagues because honesty aside, there is always the “competition” factor. People read your nasty review and think, damn, she’s just jealous that X is doing so much better than she is. It makes you come across as petty, even if you just genuinely didn’t like the book. MCVane said something that stuck with me, and made me go, yes, that. “Reviewers ‘sell’ their credibility. Authors ‘sell’ their personas & books.” I find this absolutely true, which means there is something of a conflict of interest going on there. It just makes good business sense not to alienate your colleagues, no matter how you feel about their work. If you hate a book, tell your friends; don’t tell the whole internet.
That leaves the author and reader hat. I am, by choice, an author first, but I love books. I still love to read. I’m always bemused when I read authors saying they don’t read. I’m like, then why are you writing? Loving someone else’s work first is what made me want to do this in the first place. Books have always been there for me, even when life was so bad I had no other comfort, nobody else to turn to. But I could always get lost in a book and forget my own pain. As a kid, that meant walking on the highway, age at ten, two miles to the library in town, and one day, a guy in a green El Camino stopped to show me his junk. I ran into the fields and hid until he went away. But even that didn’t stop me from making my weekly trek because books were my world. That kind of lifelong commitment doesn’t go away because I’m writing my own stories now.
And that’s why I’m so puzzled when readers act like I’m not one of them. Like there is some great divide between us. I love words. I love pages. I love the smell of a book. I miss so much being able to go into an all-English bookstore and just stand there, totally surrounded by what I love. I may be a writer, but I am still one of you. I don’t slag my colleagues, but I don’t slag readers either. I respect you because you share my greatest love.
I am grateful when someone buys my books. I am grateful when they tell me I moved or entertained them. That’s so much more than I ever could’ve imagined, as that chunky ten-year-old girl trudging down the gravel shoulder of the highway, carrying a faded Jabberjaw backpack.
Feel free to disagree with me, if you think authors are no longer readers, or if you think authors should be writing fiery, controversial reviews. A random commenter will receive Blue Diablo (if they haven’t read it) and Hell Fire.