There's nothing that strikes fear in an author like talking with a group of readers and have one of them say - "Oh, I don't read that junk." Talk about a depression-inducing moment. Here you are, gathering courage to talk about something that is dear to your heart (if it isn't - you shouldn't be doing it) and have an individual cut your feet out from under you.
So what do you do? What can you do?
A few would say, leave the conversation. Some would say - nothing. Change the subject, because everyone is allowed their opinion. Yes, that is correct, but is it the best way to go? I don't think so.
Instead, how about asking questions. Something like - what don't you like about my genre? What do you read? The one thing I've found when I'm talking about books is everyone loves to talk. Just as everyone has an opinion. If you ask the questions, without getting defensive, the person to whom you're talking will be more than happy to give you an opinion. If you are in a group, you will be surprised because others will come to your defense and you won't have to say anything.
Another thing I've learned. I wait until someone asks what I do. It's a great conversation opener and works much better than opening up with I'm an author, or I write romance novels. When someone asks what I do, I smile and say quietly, I write books. It always amazes me how many will ask if I write children's books. Usually the next question is am I published. I am, so I nod. Then the usual question is what do you write. I write romance and that's usually when I get the 'junk' statement. So I immediately ask what kind of books they read. The conversation will usually start following from there. Most authors read a lot of genres, so questions like, who's your favorite author and so on may in fact give you even more to talk about.
What's great is the person you talked to will probably remember you as someone nice, a reader first. At a future time, when your name is mentioned , the individual you spent time with will offer an opinion about what a nice person you are, etc. And there you go. It's called word-of-mouth!
Award winning author, Allison Knight began her writing career like many other authors. She read a book she didn’t like and knew she could do a better job. She grabbed paper and typewriter (computers weren't available back then) and announced she was going to write a book. Her children hooted with laughter. “Yeah, Mom, when cows fly,” her daughter declared. She took classes, joined a critique group, wrote, rewrote and wrote some more. When her first book sold, she came home from her teaching job to find a stuffed toy cow rotating from the ceiling fan in the family room. It seemed - “Cows did fly!” Since that time, Allison has written and published seventeen books with a gothic anthology and another medieval romance to be released in 2010. Allison often speaks at writers conferences and has taught writing classes eager to share her knowledge and her love of romance novels. You can learn more about Allison on her website.