Reviews that make your day

I am still pretty sure that 2013 is the year when people all over the world will all at once stop reading my books altogether and forever. This is something that certainly happens to 99.999% of writers (check out Project Gutenberg sometime and tell me what percentage of those authors have you truly ever heard of?), but so far the whole ‘free’ thing keeps finding readers out there. I occasionally come across some blogger who has a goal of “being read” in a hundred years, to which I can only say, “really?”. I kind of think that when I’m dead I won’t be any position to care about that.

Reviews are the thing that writers measure their readership by, even more than money. Maybe when they get to a critical mass the writer doesn’t notice them anymore, and I guess that’s another one of those mileposts of “success”. I’m not within shouting distance of any such milepost, so I still check out the reviews I get and they still make me stop and think. Someone today on Amazon thought that Orange Car with Stripes could have had a different ending. A lot of people really don’t like surprises, and they sure do want that same familiar pattern in everything they see and read. Bah. But then another review today, this time of Freak City on Smashwords, really made my day:

After reading the first book in the series, I came looking for the second. Both were enjoyable reads and the third and fourth are free as well – which made my day, perhaps my week. These books are written as “young adult” fare, but I am an old man and I enjoyed the read greatly. If the author reads these reviews, thank you for making your works free in eformat. I am disabled and would not be able to read them if I had to pay for them.

This is a use-case for “free” that I really wasn’t considering, but it adds to my reasons. One, on the principle that everything doesn’t always have to be about money all the time. Two, just giving something back to the world that’s given me so much. Three, that you can attract more flies (er, readers) with honey and “free” is pretty sweet. Four, I can’t get on actual library shelves and “free online” is as close to that as I can get. Five, reaching people who truly can’t afford it and maybe some will be glad about it.

In any case, one review made my day where the other did not, and it’s one of those days where I’m reading some truly great writing (2666 by Roberto Bolano) and thinking to myself, “where the f*** did I ever get the notion that I could write?”

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