I was on Twitter the other day and I saw a conversation, not at all a bad one, and there was just a random comment along the lines of “oh yeah that author is so popular and probably doesn’t really need the buzz like others do.” Totally understand the sentiment of wanting to support the authors that might not get as much buzz or that might be debut authors or under the radar! TOTALLY. I love doing that and do it all the time. SO MUCH. That’s not at all the point of this post.
What this comment made me think about is perception vs. reality. They aren’t always aligned. I knew this statement that was made about this author wasn’t necessarily fact as I know the author and know a little bit about their publishing journey. They are totally ~popular~ within our circles but outside of it they just aren’t as well known/have struggled. But I could see how this person who made the statement could think this given what they see online and in this particular community of ours! I really could! Especially in relation to how well loved they are IN our community. And I think this sort of thing happens a lot — these innocent misperceptions based on what we see online vs the actual reality. (Especially since as readers, pre-social media, I don’t think we really HAD much of a look into ANY of this).
I think in our book blogging community, which is comprised of super readers and people who are really IN the KNOW when it comes to all things books, it doesn’t always reflect the reality of how a book does on a grand scale or how popular an author actually is. I know authors who are super popular in the book blogging world and I don’t think they’ve quite reached that level outside. It’s been jarring to me to think in my head how super popular and hyped a book is in this community and then talk outside of our community and realize it’s not as big at all. Or how I can talk to a librarian about a super popular book I see embraced by our community and they tell me it doesn’t move off the shelf ever. I’m like “WAIT NOT EVERYONE HAS HEARD ABOUT THIS AND AREN’T CLAMORING TO GET THIS ONE COPY?”
It’s so interesting to me sometimes how our reality in our community doesn’t always accurately reflect sales numbers or popularity out there in the world. Sometimes it makes me really sad. I’m like “LOOK. WE ALL LOVE THIS. WHY CAN’T THE WORLD?” And sometimes our reality totally align with the rest of the book world and, hey, maybe we even helped champion it. I wonder if it’s just that sometimes, despite how big our community feels and has gotten, it still is just a small sampling but we are passionate and loud and we see what feels like a lot of people talking about and reading certain books. It looks popular to us. We are just in this community where everything is amplified because we are so saturated with conversations about all sorts of books that it kind of skews our perception a bit. It’s a little bit like an echo chamber but not like in a negative sense. (Does that make sense? Maybe I’m looking for another metaphor?).
The other thing it made me think of, regarding perception and reality, is of authors themselves. I know that before I joined this community I automatically thought published author = successful and rich and being an author is their only job. That’s true sometimes but I know a whole lot of authors who have other jobs and being an author isn’t the only thing they do at all. There have been authors who have shared about the realities of being a mid-list authors and it definitely was one of the things that opened up my eyes to how off perception vs. reality can be.
I don’t really have a point to this post. Just a whole lot of musings on something that’s kind of fascinating to me. But I think, in thinking about this, it has just reinforced how super important it is to leave reviews for books I like and love on sites that might reach the non-book bloggers and people who aren’t saturated in this world like we are — Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble because every little bit counts and we are already championing these books so why not make sure our love for the book is heard outside of our community? (not saying you are awful if you don’t…god knows I am SO behind in cross-posting reviews).
It makes me want to think about what other avenues I can spread the word and how I can use my platform BETTER to help further champion the books I love. How can I better be a resource to people like teachers and librarians who are reaching people that I might not? We do an amazing thing by creating buzz and talking about these books and writing reviews but I’m asking myself how I can do better with just even a little more effort on my part personally to reach beyond this community.
Thoughts on this? Even if you don’t agree with me or think I’m totally wrong, I’d love to hear them! How can we reach beyond our community to make a difference for books we love?