Welcome to week #2 of the 52 Books Challenge! Every Monday, we’ll have a new guest author on to talk about herself, her writing, and her latest book. This week my friend Heather Gilbert is here to talk a bit about her relationship with her readers. Her first book (everybody cheer), God’s Daughter was released last October and already has a list of great reviews.
Here’s the Amazon description:
One Viking woman. One God. One legendary journey to North America.
In the tenth century, when pagan holy women rule the Viking lands, Gudrid turns her back on her training as a seeress to embrace Christianity. Clinging to her faith, she joins her husband, Finn, on a journey to North America.
But even as Gudrid faces down murderous crewmen, raging sickness, and hostile natives, she realizes her greatest enemy is herself–and the secrets she hides might just tear her marriage apart.
Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands. God’s Daughter, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir–daughter-in-law of Eirik the Red, and the first documented European woman to have a child in North America.
Hey, it’s Vikings. Most of you are looking for something a little different to add to your reading list this year. Well here ya go. Okay, enough from me. Let’s hear from Heather…
The Reader is always right
Although that title might be controversial depending on how you look at it, I really believe that authors need to spend time listening to their readers. This means spending less time letting our minds be clouded by what’s “marketable” or “trendy.” This means going with our gut, writing things we know readers will get behind. Because those will be the things WE can get behind as authors. When we write our passion, readers will catch our vision. When we gut our stories or pander to the trends, we won’t have a book we can feel proud of. As a reader, I hunt down stories that break the mold, teach me something new, and bring rich new characters into my life. I don’t care what’s trendy. I want memorable books.
And what an amazing time to be a reader! Never before have authors had such direct contact with readers. I remember when blogs were the only way to track down authors (I followed Stephanie Meyer’s quite a while after reading The Host. She didn’t blog often, but I loved reading about her housewife-turned-famous-author story). Today, we have Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube…such a variety of ways to keep up with the authors we love.
I’ve personally found that my readers chime in the most on my Facebook Author page. Even before I published a book, future readers gave feedback on possible series titles, book titles, and Amazon blurbs. Elsewhere, I’ve seen readers help determine cover art for books. I find that readers have an unerring sense of what will sell best. Sure, they might disagree, but the majority will veer a certain way.
Recently, we had an incredibly enlightening conversation on Facebook on the importance (or non-importance) of endorsements for books. The majority of readers thought endorsements were important for debut authors, but not critical for authors they’ve already read and enjoyed (in fact, in that case, endorsements are rarely glanced at). This kind of info is crucial for a self-published author like myself. I know I don’t have to knock myself out getting endorsements on my second book; I just have to provide a product I know my readers will enjoy. I have to ask myself if publishing houses ever ask readers these things.
Bottom line for authors: if you’re not writing for readers, who are you writing for? Even as I write something I’d like to read, I should always have my readers in mind.
And bottom line for readers: authors value your input! Not only do your reviews and encouraging words make us feel we’re not wasting our lives, your input can help steer future books. So please take the time to interact with your favorite authors, wherever they hang out online!
Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Sixteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling her three children. Heather regularly posts on Novel Rocket about self-publishing.
You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert–Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. Her Viking novel, God’s Daughter, is an Amazon bestseller. You can find it on Amazon and Smashwords.