All right, so I’m not self-actualized. Reader feedback means something to me. I love checking out my Goodreads reviews and gain inspiration from reader comments.
When someone tells me they loved my book, that they couldn’t put it down, that it made them cry, or it’s one of the favourites, it does more than just make my day. It gives my whole creative system a shot in the arm. Writing becomes not just work, but a joy again. The words pour out.
They tell me it shouldn’t be this way. That we writers should be intrinsically motivated. ‘Write for the process not the pay-off.’
I won’t go so far as to call that B.S. There may well be authors out there who just write for themselves and never show a word of their work to anyone. But for me it’s simply not enough. More than that – it just doesn’t make sense.
Yes, I love writing for its own sake. And even if I had no hope of being published again I would probably still do it. In the same way I would talk to myself if there was no one else around to listen.
But art is about communication. The artist has something inside them, infuses that something into their work, and then sends it out. The person who views the painting, reads the words, or hears the music feels something in response. If there’s no-one on the receiving end, what’s the point?
As a violinist I used to spend 4-6 hours a day practicing scales, exercises and pieces. Yes, it was satisfying in itself, but only because I knew it was bringing me one step closer to my ultimate goal: to walk out on stage and perform for an audience. To give my music to someone else.
The biggest thrill I could get as a musician was moving my listener to tears. The same holds true for me with writing. And I think this explains why so many emerging authors are often depressed. They keep asking themselves, when will someone see my work? When will I have the chance to fulfil the purpose behind all my efforts?
So, readers, please don’t stop giving your feedback. If you loved a book, or even if it let you down in some way, let the author know. I can honestly say I pay attention to all feedback and if more than one reader had the same issue with something in my book, I guarantee you I’ll give it some thought the next time around.
If you don’t feel comfortable posting a review on Goodreads or Amazon, send the author a FB message or contact them via their website. You might just be providing the incentive that helps that author write their next book.