I remember when I first started reading genre fiction. If I wanted to contact an author to tell them how much I loved a book, I’d have to write a letter and snail mail it to their publisher. This was always too much work for me, so I never did, but that was how it worked. There were no author websites, no social media. Hell, there was no email.
When I began writing, things were different. I do occasionally receive a snail mail letter forwarded to me by my publisher(s), but I have my own PO Box for those who want to reach me that way. Mostly readers contact me through my social media outreach, which is what I prefer.
One of the results of this new accessibility is reader commentary and suggestions. This is especially interesting while writing a series in progress. Speculating on what may happen or what one thinks may happen is one thing. Being told that something *must* happen or a character *must* act in a certain way to keep that reader engaged is entirely another.
Now, I’m not bitching. I welcome and encourage discussion on my books. It’s fascinating to see the directions other minds take and the varying responses individuals have to a scene or character arc. But at the end of the day, I’m writing my story in my way and I can’t be influenced to take it in another direction. I’m open to editorial, but not to restructuring my vision based on any individual’s feedback.
The relationship between an author and their work is a separate thing from the relationship between an author and their readers. Yes, every writer hopes that their work will resonate with readers. I love it when a reader tells me one of my books was a perfect read for them and there’s nothing they would change. But it’s also perfectly okay to not be a perfect read, to have elements that a reader wishes would’ve been different or that a character would’ve acted in a different way. It’s actually a bit more of a challenge to take you along on journey using a route you wouldn’t have taken (or feel that the character shouldn’t have taken) and still have you satisfied when you reach the destination. And as a reader, I want an author to take me places I wouldn’t have chosen to go. That’s the escape.
So please, feel free to share your thoughts, hopes, and suggestions. Every writer wants their readers to be so engaged in the story that it lingers and grows in their minds. But be open to the road you wouldn’t have traveled. It might be what makes the trip truly memorable.