Reader Accessibility

Years ago, if you wanted to contact an author, you waited until they went on tour. Or you sent them a letter or more recently you sent an email. These things were likely all filtered through an agent so that the author didn’t have to deal with it all.

Now with Twitter accounts, Facebook author pages, Tumblr, and blogs (and I’m sure several other forms of social media) readers have the chance to directly interact with their favorite authors. Some authors are heavily involved with their followers. Maureen Johnson, Cassandra Clare, and Melissa Marr all frequently respond and retweet questions from followers on Twitter, which is really cool.

As a writer, this is both something I look forward to and dread. It would give my readers a direct line to me so that they can tell me how much they love my books, so that they can worship the ground I walk on.

It also means that they can tell me every place I screwed up. It means they can point out where they think I could have done it better.

And you can’t please everybody.

I’d never really thought about this until recently, but the head writer for two of my favorite webseries, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved, has recently been receiving some flak because a group of fans don’t like the direction Emma Approved is taking. Because people weren’t addressing it specifically to him, he wasn’t aware of it until recently. Which only worsened the opinions of the disgruntled fans as they felt he was purposefully ignoring their concerns.

So as a writer, where should I draw that line? How much involvement with my audience is too much involvement?

You can’t please everybody.

Is it more important to stay true to my artistic vision than it is to please the people who read my work. Will taking their ideas into consideration weaken the storyline or improve it? At what point would I start having to provide acknowledgements to specific people for their ideas?

If I were to write standalone novels, this would not be as big a fear. Readers would not receive the book until it was complete. But if I were to try writing a serial? Or even a series?

At some point, you have to hope that your readers trust you enough to know what you’re doing. (Even if you don’t.)

You have to hope that they don’t feel entitled to tell your story for you.

And you have to hope that they won’t abandon you just because you didn’t follow their advice.


At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.


  • Andrew Putnam says:

    Personally, I think it’s better to stay true to the work and not give readers that kind of control. Writers know their characters better than anyone else. Readers can only see what we show them. They may not like the direction a character is going, but that’s just how characters (and people) evolve. They can’t make it to the other side without going through some shit first. And like you said, you can’t please everyone. Trying to cater to one group will only end up pissing off another and, ultimately, it makes the character weaker because the essence of who they are has been changed by people who never really knew who the character was to begin with.

  • I agree with Andrew whole-heartedly! You really can’t make everyone happy, so you have to write the best story that is inside of you. The best example I can think of is Harry Potter; I feel like if J.K. Rowling had had her own way, it would have had a drastically different ending. I think it’s important to connect to fans, but fans are going to appreciate an author who is true to his or herself more than one that lets popular opinion affect a story. That’s how I feel, at least.

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