A Few Random Thoughts About Readers and Their Existence

Sunday, April 27, 2014
I had an interesting conversation at the post office today. I was sending Caught Between Two Curses to the winner of WOW!'s contest and a Goodreads contest. On the envelope, I had written WOW! winner and on the other, Goodreads winner. The mail clerk had trouble finding a place to put the postage and media mail stickers, and I said, "You can just cover up WOW! winner."

She said, "Oh no. I can't. This is very important to know that they won a book. It might encourage them to read more. Nobody reads anymore."

I smiled and said thank you, and then I said, "You're right."

Although I know that the WOW! winner reads all the time, and most people that enter book contests also do; but in general, the depressing thing is that people read less. Right? Or am I wrong? Or does it seem like there are just more books out there than ever before, and that's why people seem to be able to read fewer books--because there are so many?

On Friday, I went to an elementary school for an author visit and talked to 90 fourth graders. I like to do a lot of audience interaction, and I said, "Raise your hand if you like to write." About 75 percent of the students raised their hands. (I realize this is probably more than actually like to write, but they don't want me to think that they don't like writing, given my profession.) Then I asked, "Who likes to read?" And at least, 90 percent raised their hands, and I even heard one child exclaim, "Oh yeah, I do."

So, it's not true that all kids like to do is play video games. And it's not true that no adults read, in my opinion. But here are two points we need to consider as writers: 1. we need to read ourselves (please do not say you are too busy writing to read. Part of being a writer is being a reader).  2. We need to find READERS. We are very good at finding other writers. We find them at conferences, on Facebook, in Twitter chats, and more. But really, readers are going to buy our books and talk about them and give them as gifts to friends and family. Many writers are readers, too, of course; but people who just love to read and not necessarily write do exist.

I realize this post is a bit all over the place--that's the way my brain feels tonight. But lately, I've had several conversations with writers about looking for readers--don't only spend your marketing efforts and budget on sites where other writers are the main audience. Other writers are very supportive and often have blogs and will give you reviews, but you also need to take time and find reader blogs--they exist. People who just want to read really do start blogs and review books, and many of these are quite popular.

What's the bottom line? I think this is an optimistic post. I'm trying to say that reading is still alive! People still love to read, and it's our job as writers to write for these readers, find our audience, and be readers ourselves.

SO, what are you reading?  

Find out more about Margo L. Dill and her books at http://margodill.com/blog/ or take a class with her from the WOW! classroom (novel writing and children's writing): http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html

photo above by Mo Riza (http://www.flickr.com)


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I am reading (I'm almost finished) with "Mockingbird," a biography of Harper Lee. It's good, and even gives a glimpse into Truman Capote's childhood and what he (and Harper Lee) went through when writing "In Cold Blood."

I agree. There ARE readers out there. Reading is alive and well. Perhaps they get overlooked because they don't speak up and raise their hand and get counted...because they're too engrossed in their book?

Sioux Roslawski said...

Oh, I forgot to say--I liked the new (or different) photo. The one you usually use is a good one as well, but this one is (what I imagine) you look like right now...Right?

Jodi Webb said...

I'm reading Monuments Men. I had never heard of the book even though I'm a WWII history until the movie came out. I was all set to go to the movie until I read a few less than flattering reviews so I decided to go with the book. So far I'm loving it.

Renee Roberson said...

I've been reading a variety of things lately, although focusing a lot on MG and YA, probably because that's what I'm writing. I've been sharing some MG books with my daughter (or rather, she's been pestering me to read some of the books she's reading) and that's been a blast. She's recently broken out of a rut and is reading more fantasy, like "The Lightning Thief" and "A Wrinkle in Time." I have several novels saved up on my Kindle, but for some reason I'm itching to read "Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers" by Mary Kole so that's probably going to be what I tackle next.

Margo Dill said...

Jodi: Is that the George Clooney movie?

Renee: Let me know about the Kidlit book and what you think. I might be interested in reading that too.

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