Two months ago, I posted a review of Barbara Abercrombie’s Year of Writing Dangerously. It is the kind of thing readers do spontaneously when they enjoy a book. They want to share that book. Readers who blog share by writing reviews.
Yesterday, the author of that book, Barbara Abercrombie, tweeted a link to my review. It was kind of her because it gave my review new readers. It felt really good to have an author I enjoyed read and acknowledge my own work in some small way. It was a nice gesture.
Here’s the thing: her random share was helpful to both of us. I have felt stuck for weeks and got myself unstuck last night because I recalled the things that originally inspired me in her book, I felt a small sense of acknowledgment from someone further along the writing path and I reread my post with fresh eyes and liked what I saw. I wrote again last night, and it was fun.
The share was helpful to her because it connected her readers with a favorable, honest reader review of her work. Reviews in vetted publications still matter very much to writers. There is still no substitute for a positive review in NY Times, Kirkus, Library Journal or Publishers Weekly. Those publications help book buyers know what to buy and what to avoid. As a reader, I need something more than just a critical evaluation of a book’s content and technical execution. I want to know if readers like me connect with the book. If professional reviewers rave about a book, but no readers are blogging about it, I don’t feel as enthusiastic about picking it up.
Writers seeking their audience should consider the small, simple connections made possible by Twitter. Writing isn’t supposed to be one directional. Writing is supposed to be a conversation. Twitter is a tool that helps make that possible.