Do you enjoy reading books? If so, which kind of reader are you?
On my journey as an author, I have encountered five distinct kinds of readers: devoted friends, book fans, frenemies, critical readers, and encouraging editors.
A Devoted Friend: you might be a devoted friend if you love everything an author friend as written because they’re your friend! That friendship is more important than whether the book is any good, so you may never give any constructive feedback on it, but only enthusiasm and praise.
A Book Fan: You might be a book fan if you love a particular genre of story and any book that scratches your desire for that kind of story. You might latch on to specific authors’ work because you enjoy their writing style and voice. You don’t care about any typos or grammar issues because you’ve connected emotionally with the plot or the characters, and only want to know when your favorite author’s next book might come out!
A Frenemy: You might be a frenemy if you’re jealous of or dislike a certain author’s writing. Maybe that author’s level of accomplishment makes you feel inferior, or maybe your personalities clash. You may even be friendly to an author’s face, but tend to lurk in the shadows and be spiteful behind an author’s back. Or you may disparage their work quite openly.
What you need to know: we authors tend to take it rather hard when we encounter a frenemy. We want to be liked. We want our stories to be liked and enjoyed as well. We want you to realize how hard every author works to establish any amount of success. We’d far rather applaud you for your own successes and hard work too than have you feeling bad about us for any reason.
A Critical Reader: You might be a critical reader if you read a story with your inner editor going full-bore. You have difficulty enjoying certain stories because your inner editor won’t let you ignore all the mistakes, but you enjoy a well-edited book that demonstrates a superior level of writing skills! You also tend to give honest feedback and reviews, but because you’re harder to please, your feedback tends to be more negative.
A Encouraging Editor: You might be an encouraging editor if you see errors and make a note of them so you can let the author know what needs improvement while also praising the passages you thought were particularly enjoyable and/or clever. Authors who receive your feedback and listen to it benefit greatly. You make a great critique partner and might be sought after as a writing mentor.
Most readers fall into one of these categories more than another, although some may fall somewhere in between. Readers sometimes move between categories, or fall into one category in relation to one author and into a different category in relation to other authors.
What kinds of readers do authors appreciate the most?
Oh, that’s a hard question!
As an author, it is important to find ways to attract Book Fans while acknowledging our Devoted Friends and listening to our Encouraging Editors. While we all need our friends, especially when there’s been a rejection letter or a particularly scathing critique of our work, most friends do not make great critique buddies nor are they particularly good at writing reviews, although your author friends may want you to critique their work or write reviews in order to support them.
It’s okay to say no, especially since Amazon’s algorithm filters and deletes reviews by friends and family.
A devoted friend’s contributions of loyalty, moral support, and enthusiasm are far more valuable for an author than any amount of editing or reviews that you might be willing to offer. If this is what you have to offer, then your author friends will be very blessed indeed!
Book Fans buy the most books and write the most reviews, and sometimes reach out and get to know us personally, and move into the category of Devoted Friends. Book fans are very valuable to every author, and we spend a lot of our time trying to figure out how to find you and connect with you! You make this easier when you let us know who you are. You can do this by buying our books and writing reviews! Even if it’s only a few lines to let us know what you appreciated most, your feedback is welcome!
Encouraging Editors make great critique partners and mentors for authors, and they write the most valuable reviews, but here’s a secret: so can Critical Readers! If an author is motivated to raise their quality of writing to meet your high standards and earn your praise, then their work will achieve a whole new level of quality!
Authors really do need your honest feedback, although some of us do better with the blunt truth than others. Please proceed with discretion and tact in determining where your input will be most welcome.
Authors also need to recognize when we encounter Frenemies, that it’s not our problem and we shouldn’t take it to heart. If you’re a frenemy, I hope you’ll forgive us if we walk warily around you until you learn to respect and value us as we’d prefer to respect and value you.