Today’s reading from Barbara Abercrombie’s A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration and Encouragement focuses on the reader. Not an e-reader, but the person behind the gadget, book, magazine, newspaper, blog, or email.
That topic is Love the Reader. As writers—novelists in particular—we tend to have this I’m so above it all attitude and say, “I’m not writing for an audience, I’m writing for me.” The notion of getting the story written is more about passion. It’s not about fame or money. It’s deeper. The story becomes your baby that you’ve nurtured and watched it morph into something that’s tangible. And once you have the story out in a book, anthology, magazine or newspaper, you want readers to feel the same fervor you experienced while writing it.
How can we show our love to our readers? By writing the very best—even if it’s a Facebook or Twitter update. Edit your work, proofread it, don’t preach, ramble, or get on tangents (guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty!). Write your story as if it was a love letter to readers. Don’t insult their intelligence and pontificate because no one likes a know-it-all and show-off.
If you decide to self-publish bear in mind you’re in charge of the entire process. You don’t have partners via the traditional publishing route (agent, editorial, art, and marketing departments) take the extra time to make the book as perfect as possible. Get beta readers, acquire a critique partner or two, hire an editor—for both developmental and copy editing; proofread your work often; study book covers and hire a graphic artist who will do justice to your story; if possible, and for marketing purposes, get blurbs from other writers. Do it the right way because your potential readers will see that you’re serious and you respect them.
And now I part with these not-so-astute or wise words: It’s okay to love yourself and to love your story, but remember to also love thy readers.