It means I need to be selective. I could probably be happy for a long time reading new books by authors I have enjoyed or reading their backlist if I missed some. However, as a (relatively) unknown author, I realize that if everyone else were to apply that same philosophy, my books would not prosper, nor would those by most of my writer friends. Eventually, I’d end up in a rut, which would be depressing. I think it is important to support midlist and lower authors who write good books.
Consequently, I needed to develop a new way to decide what books to read and what books I won’t read. Here’s my current methodology for fiction (Nonfiction is entirely different.):
1. If I have read your books and enjoyed them, I will try to read the next one, especially if you write a series, because I tend to like series better than standalones. (That’s not a value judgment, just an observation of my reading habits.)
2. If I have read your books and not enjoyed them, then they are not for me, and I wish you great success with the rest of the reading public, but I won’t be picking up another of your books.
3. If I enjoyed your series, but from my perspective it has gone stale, I’m done with that series—but if you start a new series, I’m likely to check it out. I grant all long-term series authors one “miss,” but if you have two, then I’m done.
4. If I meet you at a conference or meeting or bookstore and we have an interesting conversation, I will read one of your books (probably your latest since that’s the one you are promoting) with hopes you will move into category #1. If I’m moderating a panel you are on, I will read your book to help make you shine.
5. If we meet and you are a snob, disrespectful of others, or hog a panel (panelist or moderator) you could write the most fabulous book in the world and I will not support you by reading it.
6. If we are on similar listservs and you make helpful or insightful or thought-provoking comments, and you write the kind of books I like to read, I’ll pick up one of yours. You could be a great blogger or list member, but if all you write is (say) romance or horror, well then, I’m sorry I can’t support you with my reading, but I’ll try to say nice things about you so others will know of you.
7. If you are a cyberbully, disrespectful, or always posting “woe is me” stuff, I’ve crossed you off my list. I am not into psychic bleeders. I want to surround myself with positive vibes. That does not mean you can’t share downs (we all have them) as long as I also get to experience your ups. I can give hugs as well as cheers. But no whining—enjoyable wine has no “h” in it.
8. If the only posts I see from you are self-promotion, I will turn a deaf ear and ignore you and your books. This goes for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, you name it.
9. If I “like” you on a social network and I immediately get a message to the effect that you’ll buy my book if I buy yours, or that you’ll trade five-star reviews, we’re done.
10. If someone who enjoys books similar to my tastes recommends a new author, I will try it, and if my book club is reading it, I am all in.
11. If a reviewer I respect (because of their honest ratings) enthuses over a book, I am likely to check it out if it is in a category I enjoy.
Notice that nothing on the list defines what kind of writing I like. My preferences may not be yours, which is not a problem with so many authors to choose from. So, how about you WWK readers—what puts or keeps an author off your reading list?