Writing: Writers and Readers
This is just a bitty, hurried bloggage, but I wanted to say something.
When I see sales advice online–in any of the billion and one various places you see it–they’re usually discussing a way to ‘reach your readers’. There are complaints that some services–book promo groups and sites especially–are composed almost entirely of WRITERS, with few READERS to be found. There are separate hashtags for reaching ‘readers’.
Personally, I find this hilarious.
Because most writers–anybody who’s got enough to do with language arts to pump out an entire goddamn novel–ARE readers. They are the readers who’re most into reading, who got the most from it as kids, who were so inspired by it, in fact, that they decided to give it a go themselves. I know I for one love to read. I read a crazy number of books a year. And when something’s done well–when I enjoy a book–I’m a loyal goddamn fan.
So you just have to accept it. A lot of the people who buy your book, especially in this era of indie publishing, will be writers as well.
I don’t think this means you always need to review the book written by the person who reviewed yours. After all, they haven’t asked for it–they just picked your book up at a sale, or after seeing a promotion, just like these fabled ‘just readers’ I see references to in song and story. And they left a review, or a rating, because they know firsthand how much it means to you to do so. It would be nice of you to do it, if their book looks like something you’d enjoy. But don’t let what you feel as a writerly obligation get in the way of your readerly habits and enjoyment.
In a way, your best audience group IS other writers.
Think about it. They like to read. They know your genre–they might even write in it. They know the ins and outs of indie pub, so if they like what they see they’re likely to leave you a review and maybe even give you a shout-out on a blog somewhere. They might have a little less time than the mythical ideal reader, due to book promotion, but if you’re a writer and you’ve stopped reading to promote your own novel, then frankly, you’ve failed as a goddamn writer. No more water can seep into a sponge that won’t get itself wet. Without reading–which, when you write, is part fun and part learning–you can’t continue to grow as a writer.
I know I, for one, have picked up a TON of books while investigating promotional sites for myself. For the same reason the ‘just reader’ of legend is supposed to–because a cover looks good, because a blurb is awesome, because someone’s tweets keep me amused. I’ve never read as much indie fiction as I do now, marketing my own indie novel. I think a lot of you guys who have your own novels out, if you think about it for a few minutes, will realize the same thing.
A note here: I don’t respond well to PRESSURE to buy. If you beg me, I probably won’t do it. Like any other reader, I’m turned off by desperation. I’m especially turned off by the pressure, it’s true, BECAUSE I’m also a writer–I don’t nance around begging you to read my book and leave a review, so why should you?
But if your book has
A) A visually interesting cover,
B) A witty and well-written blurb,
C) A decent price, and
D) Pretty good reviews,
I’ll bite. Just like any reader would.
What I’m saying, in short:
Don’t discount a promotional possibility because you ‘see few readers’. All those writers flooding the market are competition, true: they’re also potential buyers, potential readers, potential fans and friends. And they shouldn’t be discounted in those capacities.
Also, because you knew it was happening sooner or later: buy my book.