Readers: read books.
Fans: collect swag, queue up for book signings, want to know about the private life of the author.
Readers: like or dislike books.
Fans: defend an author and her books to the death.
Readers: sometimes review books if they want to.
Fans: squee incoherently and give five stars indiscriminately.
Readers: sometimes talk about books with their friends.
Fans: stalk the internet looking for comments that are anything short of over-the-top praise, to rally the troops and harass the reviewer.
Readers: buy books to read.
Fans: do anything they can to get an early copy or a review copy, so they can laud it over their fellow fans.
Readers: are interested in books, not authors.
Fans: think they are in the author’s inner circle.
Readers: do not become stalkers, go on pilgrimages, harass authors for autographs.
Fans: sometimes do.
Readers: can distinguish an author from her books.
Fans: are not so clear about the difference.
I would like people to read my books. I am always happy when they like them, but completely understand when not everyone does. I’m happy when anyone wants to talk about my books and I don’t ever want someone to feel threatened if they have something negative to say. I don’t really need an army of new friends and I definitely don’t need crowds of fans intruding into my life. I would much prefer to be gathering new readers than making fans.