Why should writers give thanks?


IT’S THAT DAY OF THE YEAR when we traditionally pause to give thanks.

For friends.

For families.

For opportunity.

But why should writers give thanks?

I have a few ideas, and I give thanks for the following:

  • Johannes Guttenberg who invented the printing press. Without him, we would have never had books. We might hand down our stories from one generation to another, but it would be word of mouth instead of books. Books make those stories real and give them longevity.
  •  J. C. Licklider who is largely responsible for the theoretical basis of the Internet, He conceived an “Intergalactic Computer Network,” and his idea was to create a network where many different computer systems would be interconnected and be able to quickly exchange data. He opened up a new digital world for writers.
  • The eBook revolution, which gave writers an opportunity to publish their works without the agony of writing query letters that generate rjections, searching for literary agents who can’t sell the manuscripts they already possess, and praying that some publisher might produce their books.
  • Readers. Without them, there would be no reason for writers to exist.
  • Editors. They are the true geniuses, and no writer should ever publish a book without one. Editors keep the periods in the right place, make sure the commas are properly crooked, eliminate unnecessary verbiage, ensure that words are spelled correctly, and, perhaps more importantly, find the holes that crop up like bottomless pits in our stories. Too often, we have the information packed away in our own brains and never remember to spill it out on paper. A good editor drags every fact and motive out of us.
  • Artists who create cover designs. They add splashes of color to black and white manuscripts and give readers a reason to check out our books.
  • Social media. With a range of outlets from Twitter and Facebook to LinkedIn and Google Plus, with a little Pinterest thrown in, writers have a way to reach out and at least introduce their books, their names, and their brands to thousands of potential book buyers who might not even know they exist. Does social media work? I’m afraid to quit in order to find out.
  • Other authors. I’ve never met most of them, but I know so many of them. Social media brings us together. Authors understand that writers need to cooperate instead of compete and are always willing to assist each other with blogs, with book reviews, with encouragement and support. Writers know they are no longer alone in the vast unknown and unpredictable world of publishing.
  • Amazon, the eight-hundred-pound gorilla, the hooking bull of the publishing business. We curse Amazon. We don’t really understand those algorithms, and the algorithms keep changing. Amazon frustrates us. Amazon puzzles us. Writers sometimes feel they and their books are lost and forgotten in the maze of a great abyss. But Amazon is, after all, the biggest bookstore in the world, and Amazon does give us a chance to sell books.
  • eRetailers, such as Kobo, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble. They may not be as big or as important as Amazon, but they do give writers other venues where book buyers can be found.
  • Ideas. Without them, we would never write a book. Some of our ideas hearken back to history. Some run amuck in a wild future. Others are searching for love, many want to solve a mystery, and the rest are captured in a twisted web of fantasy. No two ideas are ever alike, and that is why we have so many books.
  • The passion to be a storyteller. We hear stories. We read stories. We stumble across stories. We uncover stories. We listen to gossip. We believe rumors. We’re saddled with conspiracy theories. We dream stories. And we make stories up. Books give us a chance to pass them on, and we feel good about it.
  • Our spouses and our children who allow us to live in our own world and talk to characters they never meet, see, or understand. Perhaps I give thanks most of all for those who live or have lived in the same house with me, know I’m a little crazy, don’t hold it against me, and seldom mention my hard-earned insanity to anyone else.

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