By Guest Blogger Lesa Holstine
I love authors. I’ve always said they’re my rock stars. I’d cross the street to see an author any day before a movie star or celebrity, with the exception of George Clooney. (Then my husband and I are racing each other across the road.) I admire the way authors use words and develop ideas and plots. And, nowadays, I admire their skill in public speaking and self-promotion.
As a public librarian, I feel that authors and librarians have a symbiotic relationship. We need each other. And, I think many authors realize that even more than their publishers do. I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for authors and their books, in whatever format. Librarians buy reference books, fiction and nonfiction of all types, books on tape and CD, and now e-books. We talk about books in book clubs, in groups of librarians, and with our customers. We review books in our professional journals. And, we buy even more books than bookstores do. For some of us, reading and discussing books is still our favorite part of the job. We buy, promote, and love books.
And, there are some of us who just can’t get enough. You ought to see the shelves and closets in librarians’ homes! Some of us are obsessed with books. We’re readers.
I’ve found authors to be generous with their time, and eager to work with librarians. Here’s a secret. Unlike movie stars, the biggest authors are still generous with their time, and willing to give time to their readers. For five years, I chaired the Authors’ Programming Committee for a reading festival in Florida. I have wonderful stories. Jan Burke missed a flight in Dallas due to a tornado, flew a red-eye to Tampa, rented a car, and drove to Ft. Myers, in order to make it in time for her panel. Sue Grafton signed books and tee shirts with a smile, even on her way out of the restroom. No one works a room, and a crowd, as well as Rick Bragg. He signed hundreds of books, while taking the time to listen to each eager person. Dennis Lehane appeared while writing Mystic River, but insisted Les Standiford would be a better panel moderator. Tim Dorsey adopted the festival, and participated year after year. Over those five years, the majority of authors were gracious, and easy to work with. It was a pleasure to promote them, and their books. And, many of them appeared for that nonprofit reading festival for no more than travel money.
Writers and librarians have been forced to move into the twenty-first century. Writers do blogs, podcasts, websites, and join together in groups to promote themselves. Librarians are using blogs, MySpace, and wikis to reach out. The women of Writers Plot blog regularly so readers get to know them and their books. Librarians use authors’ websites for biographies and information for our customers. We share all of that background among ourselves, and in our book groups.
I started my blog, www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com, just to share books I enjoyed with a few friends. Over three years, it became more than that. When I hear an author speak at a bookstore or the library, I share that with my readers. I post award nominees and winners. I run contests to give away books, so readers can discover new authors, or the latest title by a well-known author. There’s seldom a negative review on my blog. The biggest reason for that? There are too many books out there to read, and I seldom finish a book I don’t like. I only review the books I finish. Authors have discovered my blog, and they’ve been generous with copies of their books to give as prizes, or to read for review. Leighton Gage even appeared at the library because he read my blog. My blog is now syndicated, with some articles picked up by Reuters, usatoday.com, or Internet Broadcasting, a company that sends pieces to television websites. I’m always happy to share my blog with others. It’s a great way to promote the books and authors I enjoy.
So, to all those writers out there – thank you for sharing your books and a little bit of your time with librarians. Thanks for letting this Arizona librarian have a little part in your promotion with my blog, www.lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com.