Over the past several months since The Preacher’s Bride released, I’ve had the privilege of hearing from dozens and dozens of readers. I don’t have an exact number because I’m not good at keeping track of those kinds of things. But I have tried to save emails in a file marked “Readers,” and I also have a special drawer just for handwritten notes. Sometimes readers stop by facebook or twitter too.
Whatever the mode, I love when readers take the time out of their busy schedules to connect with me and tell me what they thought of my book.
Here are just a few of the readers I’ve heard from in the past week or so:
*Email: “I just finished reading The Preacher's Bride. I loved it....great book! I am 74 and read a lot...14 so far this year!”
*Another email: “I just finished your book The Preacher's Bride. I enjoyed it very much. I looked for your books on Books A Million and that is the only one I found. Have you written more? PLEASE write another soon.”
*And one more email: “I love to read, especially when a book holds your attention and leaves you with a desire to finish it as soon as you can, and yet you find yourself disappointed because you came to the end ... That means it is a very good book . Yours was one of those!”
*A 60 year old woman wrote in a handwritten note: “I just finished reading (in a little over a day) The Preacher’s Bride and fell in love with this book and you as an author. Wow—would you believe I am deeming this one of the best books I have ever had the privilege to enjoy in my entire life!”
Now I fully realize that I’m not the best author on planet earth, nor is my book the best one ever written. And I’m quite sure all authors get readers telling them that their book was “one of the best books” they’ve read.
Nevertheless, it’s incredibly satisfying to have readers share their excitement over my book and to genuinely love it. The more I hear from readers, the more I realize, their pleasure in my book is the reward I truly long for.
Most of us aren’t writing for the money, because we all know there’s not a whole lot of that nowadays. And most of us aren’t writing for the glory or fame, because there’s not a lot of that either.
Ultimately, what drives most of us is the need to tell a story we can share with others. Yes, there’s a lot of talk about writers needing to write for themselves, to follow their passions, to pour out what’s in their hearts. And to some extent, I agree. We must love the process of writing, feel passionate about our stories, and pour our whole hearts into them.
But . . . on another level, we’re writing for our readers, to bring them joy, to give them a fulfilling reading experience, to give them the gift of a beautifully told story that has the power to transport them beyond the present realm.
As writers, we long to connect with others through our written words. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be pursuing publication. We’d stick to journaling or other private writing.
I don’t think writers need to take an all-or-nothing approach—writing all for themselves or all for the reader. My approach is to find a balance. I dig deep into myself for the story that I’m passionate to tell. And once I find that story, then out of my passion, I try to craft it so it that it will appeal to my readers.
That means we need to learn WHAT readers of our genre like. And that takes time and effort. I’ve had help from my editors and critique partner. I’ve also been studying the books and movies that really move me, analyzing what elements are important to include.
We can bring ourselves satisfaction through our stories, but if we’re not bringing it to our readers too, then in long run we’ll be disappointed. The reader’s pleasure in our books makes all the hardships in the publication journey worth it.
Because it’s Valentine’s Day, I want to show my love and appreciation for all of my wonderful readers! I’m giving away a $15 gift card to Chocomize. (An awesome site where you get to choose your favorite chocolate base and more than 100 types of fruits, nuts, herbs, and candies to create your favorite candy bar.)
To enter the drawing: Answer ONE of the following questions and leave your EMAIL (so that I can contact you if you win).
Writers: Do you think it’s important to write with the reader in mind? Why or why not?
Readers: Tell us your favorite genre and one thing authors need to include in order to make the story fulfilling.
Deadline for giveaway: 10:00 pm (Eastern Time) on Tuesday, February 15.