READ A GOOD BOOK, FEED THE WRITER’S EGO!
I think it is wonderful that some experienced writers spend so much time answering research questions for the rest of us. Three generous experts come immediately to mind; Neil Low, Dr. Doug Lyle, and Lee Lofland. Many novels have passed the giggle test because these experts went to the trouble of giving an accurate answer to some obscure research problem. Regardless of how well educated you are, you can’t know everything about any given subject, and that is when you go to someone who knows more about it than you do.
Those of us with less experience can also lend a hand by writing reviews of books we like. After all, writers spend long hours pulling all of the threads together to create an enjoyable book. They need (and deserve) your feedback. Enough reviews and enough sales will encourage the writer to write another book in a series, and that is what most of us want.
A young woman I met on a forum was very talented, but she decided to write a book set in the 1950s in the rural South. She was in her mid-forties, grew up in a city in the
Pacific Northwest, and had no
experience on a farm. She asked me if I minded answering a few questions. I
agreed with the understanding that I might pass some of them along to the ‘real’
experts. Fortunately, all of them were about things I experienced when I was
growing up. There were many questions over the year and a half she was writing
and editing her book. She told me that she was going to thank me again on her
acknowledgment page in the front of the book. I got a copy as soon as it was in
print and read carefully through her glowing comments that covered three pages.
When I got to the end of the account, she mentioned the name of her ‘expert’
which wasn’t me. She also posted her acknowledgements on a forum for everyone
to read, and the name she gave was the screen name of another person on the
forum. Almost immediately, I received an email from the other ‘Joe’ who was
embarrassed to have received credit for something he didn’t do. “How do we
straighten this out?” he asked. “This book is already in print.” I had been
laughing since I read her account of how her book came together, and was still
laughing when he sent his email to me.
“No harm done,” I told him. “And don’t try to straighten it out. It would embarrass her too much.”
I missed my 15 minutes of fame, but I still help less experienced writers, and I do write reviews when I read a book I especially like. When you write a review, you are helping yourself in the long run. A writer you like won’t starve, and he or she might write you another gripping novel. After all, that is what this writing game is all about.