Friday, April 12, 2013

"I Love Your Story Anyway!" -- Tales From the Unintended Audience

"I know I may not be the intended audience... and I love your story anyway!"

This tweet from accomplished improv musician Stan Stewart (@muz4now), a faithful reader of "Dear Alderone," got me thinking. Since September, I've been serializing "Dear Alderone" online. It's a middle-grade novel, which means that its target audience is tweens. It features two 14-year old female protagonists bonded by blood, separated by several decades,  connected by crisis.

I wrote a story I wanted to tell: a story that I would have liked reading when I was 14. But you know what? I'm not picky at all about who reads or -- perhaps more importantly -- who likes it.

The wonderful thing about words on a page (or screen) is that they are equal-opportunity communicators, readily conveying their information to anyone willing to decipher them.

Skippyjon stays!
I know what it's like to devour a book, getting caught up in the story, all the while cognizant of the fact that the author did not have me in mind while writing. I like Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series, though I have nothing in common with an uber-rich, genius boy intent on world domination. And I flat-out love Judy Schachner's Skippyjon Jones books -- so much so that I  was crushed when my cat-crazy 10 year old daughter announced that I could give them away because she was "too old" for them.

"Noooooo!" I wanted to yell as the books came off of my daughter's bookshelf-- be instantly rehomed in mine. Skippyjon stays.

Here's a little-known writer's secret:
Anyone who loves what I write is my intended audience.

Here's another one:
Nothing makes a writer's day like hearing from someone who appreciates a good story.

If you are a rabid reader of an author's work, it doesn't matter whether or not you are in the publisher's target market. Want to really make a writer's day? Some simple ways to spread the love:

*  Tweet 'em up. Whether or not the writer is on Twitter, compose a tweet personally recommending your favorite read to your followers. For the cherry on top, add the #amreading hashtag. 

*  Blog About It. If you have a blog, dedicate a post to a book, series, or writer you like. Google loves that kind of stuff almost as much as authors do.

*  Keep the Comments Coming. If the writer has a blog, drop a short comment stating how much you enjoyed a particular book / story / article. It's not that we're pathetic or emotionally needy. (Ok: Some of us are.) It's just that most writers get more than enough negative feedback. For some reason, the people who *don't* like what we do have no problem telling us. I mean: name one other business that names the vast majority of its missives "rejections." You have no idea what a supportive comment praising one's work can do to boost the creative muse.

*  Read. Review. Repeat. Reviews -- especially good reviews -- are like reserves of gold in a wildly fluctuating economy. If you really want to keep your favorite writers producing more stuff for you to read (instead of, say, trading in their mad typing skills for a hairnet and practicing their delivery of the catch phrase "would you like fries with that?") write a well-thought out, reasoned review and post it in appropriate online, visible places. Amazon is one such place, to be sure, but don't neglect other online booksellers who cater to people who might not want to enrich the all-powerful 'Zon.

*  Share and Enjoy. Like a book? Talk it up. Then lend it to a friend, so that person can help you spread the word. In fact, you could start a kickass trend by purchasing a physical copy of your favorite paperback, inscribing something like "I liked this book so much I wanted to share it with the world. Read it. Enjoy it. Then, when you're done, leave it in a public place for someone else to discover!" and leaving it behind in a coffeeshop, or a bus stop, or a train station, or a doctor's office, or... You get the picture. 

So here's to all the dedicated readers out there. It doesn't matter whether or not you are in the segment of the population to whom a book is marketed. It's not about the marketing; it's about the reading!  


stan stewart (aka @muz4now) said...


I'm honored that you mentioned my comment. And I really am a big fan of your story. I think I'm drawn to the bits of my youth that I "missed" when I was that age. Whatever it is, thanks for the great story.


Ami Hendrickson said...

Thanks so much for both the comment here and the continued appreciation of "Dear Alderone." Readers like you are every writer's dream...

Anonymous said...

I agree that leaving reviews for an author is a great way to pay it forward. Especially when one indie publishes, reviews are the validity in the eyes of the window shopper on Amazon. They matter. Thanks!