Do you care if anyone reads your book?

Bok promotion


I’ve had this conversation with a lot of writers.

The discussion usually begins with a question like: Why do you write books?

With that kickoff things go in two directions.

One thread harps on the notion of art for art’s sake.

“I write because I must.  Writing brings me satisfaction whether or not anyone reads what I have to say,” the author says.

Then comes the counterpoint from someone across the table.

“I want people to read what I write. If no one reads it, then I’m just spinning my wheels.  If I am only writing for myself, I can find better things to do with my time.”

For the record, I’m a member of group two.

I like writing and all that goes with it, but I want people to read the words I’ve put on paper.

I don’t care if that sounds crass or commercial or whatever.

The other day a guy came up to me.  The first thing he said was, “Steve, when are you going to write another book? Last week I had to re-read one of your old ones because I couldn’t find a new one.”

The guy wasn’t kin to me or working for me or anything like that.

I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s the truth.

I could with a straight face call him a fan of mine.

I love my fans. I can count all of them without even using my toes.

That doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that nothing fires a writer up like meeting someone who has read and enjoyed her work.

The flip side of this reality is that nothing discourages a writer more than a lack of sales.

An author spends endless hours on a manuscript, sends it out into the world, and it is met with a resounding silence.

If you’ve ever written anything, you’ve been there.  Don’t tell me you haven’t.

If you tell me you haven’t been there, I won’t believe you any more than I believe the person who says she writes for writing’s sake.

That’s hogwash.

The really cruel thing about writing is that most books don’t sell.

It’s the hard truth.

And it’s getting harder for most of us to sell a lot of books these days because the entry fee into the digital revolution is so low that anyone can play. With more authors entering the market place, readers have a zillion choices in any genre.  That’s great for readers.  But it means that authors, if they hope to stand out among their peers, if they hope to appeal to more than a handful of book buyers, must consistently produce books of exceptional quality. And those books must be packaged perfectly and promoted relentlessly.

And still no one may read the damn book.

But if an author does everything within her power to give her book a chance to find a readership, she can take a deep breath and keep at it.

Not because she doesn’t care if her book sells, but because she does care.



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