In the life of a writer there are few sources for feedback about our work. Reviews at online booksellers end up placing prominently, as does participation in lists and groups online. These sources are active, prolific, passionate and aided by instantaneous communication at the click of a button.
And there’s the Alice B readers. They buy the books that interest them, they read the books, they discuss the books. Once a year they decide on a list of authors that moved them that year, or during the year they came to realize had been producing consistent, entertaining work. I was deeply honored and touched to be singled out for their notice in 2004 for “my body of work.”
They also look back for authors who blazed a trail and contributed a vast – but maybe forgotten – influence on our lives as lesbians and that of lesbian writers. The awarding of Alice B medals is not about rules and categories, but their feelings about what they read.
The relationship between writer and reader is that simple, most of the time.
I think as writers we often forget that for every reviewer at Amazon there are thousands of readers like the Alice B’s. For every online message group, there are hundreds of book clubs, talking about our work over tea and coffee. We don’t hear from them much, so infrequently that it’s easy to forget they exist. Yet they are the majority of our book buyers. They don’t want a personal relationship with their favorite writers, they want a personal relationship with the BOOKS. They want their favorite writers to keep producing good books that make them feel and think.
When I write a book, I’m thinking about the Alice B’s and all the readers like them. I think about them a lot.