After completing “Lord of the Flies” with an upcoming comparative analysis with “1984” I scrolled through Twitter, thinking about which Indie book will I pick up next. Though I’ve been writing on-and-off my third novella installment of the Gastar Series, “Point of Return” I’ve been taking more time to reading and learning from other authors and other genres.
As I’ve stated in prior articles, the first Indie book I randomly snatched up and reviewed, was “Bang” by William Butler. The noir novel to me was a stroke of genius, though not for all audiences. Along with new author Erik Gustafson, who wrote the excellent “Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon” we exchanged books and reviews. Maybe to veteran established writers and reviewers, it looks shallow, but to new authors any good publicity carries much meaning, as the NYT isn’t exactly tearing our door down to get a copy of our books to review.
Since beginning my reading frenzy, I’ve read absolutely outstanding literary pieces by Gina Penn, Ania Ahlborn, Derek Haines, and Sean Keefer, just to name a few. Their books were great, and I’m happy to post stellar reviews. OK, so I’m not the NYT, but as I stated when I reviewed the mega-novel “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen, I’m a member of the audience. While Indie novels remain my favorite, I still like to include classics every few books for my own reflection regarding why these books are classics, and to self-educate myself, as my hard science education background didn’t lend itself to reading a lot of Hemmingway. Unfortunately, great literary works do not help solve calculus problems, and GPA are the most important letters for the hard science student’s alphabet.
Now that I’ve read, and still reading many of my Tweeps’ books, should I be put out that they have not read mine? No. That would be childish on my part, and out of line professionally. Many writers/readers are very good to me on Twitter and Facebook, even though we haven’t read each other’s work. An important point of “payback reading/reviewing” is the potential loss of objectivity that is important and desirable when reviewing books. Writers want honest reviews (we hold our breath a lot, or at least I do), and reviewers want the freedom to review honestly. Without a clear playing field, the whole process is de-certified and falls apart, helping no one.
So new authors, what do we do when reading and reviewing the work of our colleagues? I say read and review the work of your colleagues. That’s it. Write as you see fit, read as you see fit, review as you see fit. (With the exception of reviewers that give a bad rating, admitting to not finishing it. Grrr!!! I won’t go there today). It gives me joy to reach out to another new writer, and amazement to the new, lesser-known talent, wondering if the industry will recognize them in a higher caliber someday. The education all writers give me is not something I can pin a dollar sign in the form of sales of my own books. Would I like more readers to become interested in my novellas? Sure. But I believe more in giving than in taking.
Writers give by means of our work, and some of us by means of supporting other authors. “Payback” can be good or bad, and for new authors, to support each other is part of what keeps us on our creative journey. Negative payback, which I hope to never see, helps no one. Getting rarely happens without giving first.