For the Love of the Reader Giveaway!

I need a tee-shirt that says: I Heart My Readers. Seriously. I’ve discovered one of the BEST things about being a published author is hearing from readers.

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.


  1. I want to enter the drawing! My email is

    Q to Writers: If a writer doesn't write with the readers in mind, then they can't expect readers to connect with the material. Good writing has to be a paradox: you write what you want to write, AND what your readers want to read. Sometimes that means compromise, as I've learned in my past writing experience.

    Basically, find a way to make yourself and your readers happy with the story content, and change it accordingly. It'll be a win-win scenario.

  2. I do my very best, when writing for anything except my journal, to keep the reader right in front of me. (Although I've found that since I use excerpts from my journal often in my writing...and people tend to identify with that to...that many must live in a mind much like mine!) And as you were saying, those words of affirmation from readers are such a gift! (My favorites are the ones from tough critics. I write those down and refer to them often!)

  3. As a writer I believe it is important to write with the reader in mind. I write what I would want to read. In blending my writer and my reader minds I create a better story.

  4. What fabulous feedback, Jody! Happy Valentine's day! :)

  5. Writing with readers in mind allows us to create strong emotional characters to connect with readers. We don't know who may have gone through a similar situation, and our words may be ministering to their hurting hearts.

    I'm a reader too, so when I read I want to connect with characters and be transported to settings I may not otherwise visit.

    Many writers write the stories of their hearts, and those stories are crafted in hopes of generating a readership.

    lisajordanbooks at yahoo dot com

  6. If you're not writing with the reader in mind, then who are you writing for? Yourself? For me, writing has to have a reader out there somewhere. When I'm writing fiction, I love to imagine it being read - and then when it really IS read, what a thrill!

    Thanks for the giveaway, Jody.

  7. Such a beautiful balance--writing for yourself and for others.
    ~ Wendy

  8. Yes it is important to write with the reader in mind--but I also write for myself by doing that because I am an avid reader. When I approach my own writing, I always think about the elements I love in the books I read and make sure I include them. I dissect books that are similar to the one I am writing and study to see how the authors got across similar messages and themes while also exploring their own subplots. The reason this is all important is because this is a business. If you are writing as a hobby with no expectation of publication, then I don't think it is important. But just as every other business model has to keep in mind customers tastes/expectations and the market, writers have to do the same if they want to be successful in *this* business.
    Great post--love reading your reader's comments. Good to hear you keep them and I hope you reread them whenever you get stuck or have one of those bad writing days. :-) Happy Valentine's Day!

  9. I absolutely think we need to write for the reader. My very first book started out super-self-focused and gradually evolved into something reader-focused. And I am SO blessed anytime I hear from someone who loved my books (and whose heart/life was changed in some way by reading them).

  10. I think for the first draft, you should write for yourself (as the first reader). For me, this is the only way to actually produce a first draft–getting words on a page is the first challenge! Then, as you polish for beta readers and hopefully readers of the finished book, you should keep their expectations in mind. These expectations can include prose, style, voice, plot, or any number of things that go into making a successful book.

    As a reader, I look for books that are innovative. I want to read a new twist on an old idea, a turn of phrase that makes me think, a style or voice that echoes in my head days, weeks, months after I put the book down. That's not too hard to accomplish, right? :)

  11. Create my own candy bar? Count me in! :)

    I love finding that perfect balance of a story that I'm passionate about but that appeals to readers. And I love your advice to watch movies that I love and analyze what appeals to me about them. Good stuff, Jody!

    sarah (at) sarahforgrave (dot) com

  12. Jody - You nailed it. The true pleasure in being an author comes from touching readers' hearts. Amen!

    As a writer, I absolutely write with the reader in mind. That is why my critique partners are such an asset. They give my first reader feedback. I send them chapters one at a time as I complete them, and there have been occasions when their comments have led me to turn my story in a slightly different direction than I originally intended. All in an effort to please the reader while still being true to the story in my heart.

    Readers are such a blessing. We couldn't be authors without them!

  13. Oooh... fun drawing. I've never heard of Chocomize but I'm going to check it out right now.

    AND, I think it's definitely important to keep your reader in mind... you're selling to them so they need to be your #1 priority.

  14. Do you think it’s important to write with the reader in mind? Why or why not?

    I try to write a story based on my passions and what I love to read, but at the same time try to keep in mind what's popular in the market. Like you said, there needs to be a balance. =)

    Email: thall1313 (at) gmail (dot) com

    Thanks for this giveaway!

  15. Jody, I love this post. I can imagine those reader letters are so special for you!

    I think it's sooo important to write with the reader in mind. That doesn't mean completely change your idea for a story, but it does mean you should know your audience and what's going to keep them turning pages. And also what's going to touch their hearts.

  16. As a reader, one of my favorite genres is gothic, although I noticed that the one I'm currently reading was published as women's fiction (in 2008). I suspect it's easier to mask gothic as something else these days. I should go see what The Thirteenth Tale was marketed as. That was a fantastic gothic book.

    For this genre, ambiance of place is very important. Detailed descriptions are a must. Mysteries must be laid one on top of the other, like nested dolls that the reader pulls a part. The reader must be taken to a psychological scary place that's both dark and ancient. I could go on and on, but I won't . . . The genre hasn't changed that much over the last 200+ years. It pleases me that there's still a market for books w/ overwrought descriptions and constant head-hopping!!

    Oh, my e-mail is jdomschot(at)msn(dot)com

  17. What wonderful comments, Jody! That must be so fulfilling. I agree with you, we write because it's within us to tell a story.

    I'm naming your book as my book club selection this year when my turn comes around. Looking forward to the read.

    In answer to the question, I think it's egocentric to write only for yourself. As writers, we must write with our readers in mind. It is to entertain and possibly even enlighten them. We have to respect and love our audience, or else it's all in vain.

    Happy Heart Day! Hope it's a good one!

  18. If I'm not writing for other eyes who will read it, the writing might as well stay in a private journal. Writing is communication -- that's why language exists. Yes, I can have a conversation with myself. (And sometimes I do, I admit) But on most days, why would I want to? What kind of life is that?

    Ignoring the reader is an artificial, unnatural approach. For proof, I point you to any child learning to speak.

    I am a child learning to write.

  19. Hey Jody! I haven't posted a comment on here in FOREVER, but I do still faithfully follow your blog!

    Q @Writers: YES. You have to write for yourself if you want to be able to inject your writing with that sense of passion, otherwise it'll come off stilted and boring. HOWEVER, you also need to write for your readers too. It's about finding a BALANCE. A moderation in all things. Writers write for the love of writing, and readers read for the love of reading. It's when you can achieve both that you've succeeded. Writing selfishly and purely for yourself is what a journal is for. Publishing a book is ultimately a business, and if you want to succeed in that business then you need to respect your readers.


  20. I've loved reading many of the glowing online reviews of The Preacher's Bride. It's evident you've touched your readers with your great story, as I know you'll do with your next, and the books that follow.

    I pour my heart into my stories in the hope they'll move readers just as they move me.

  21. Great post! That second published novel is one of the most difficult, I find, since we're suddenly [i]aware[/i] of an audience that isn't imaginary any longer. For me, the experience of wanting so badly to please readers with the second book was so nerve-wracking that I had to just put my audience completely out of mind. I wrote for me (and the trash can), and the result was, I think, a much stronger book than it would have been had I worried about what my readers would think in every scene.

    kmweiland [at] ymail [dot] com

  22. Yes! It's all about readers. In my heart, when I write, I imagine that others will enjoy my work on some level. I know my writing is not for everyone, but I really have a heart for readers in general. Speaking of which, my family and friends STILL rave about Preachers Bride. =) I'm so thrilled to see you doing phenomenally. Happy Valentine's day Jody!

  23. I think the reader has to be at the forefront of your thoughts. They don't know what you know, so you have to make sure that info is there. At the same time, you have to remember to dole it out in chocolate sprinkles throughout in order to pique & maintain reader interest. All that being spread, the first draft is the story; the revision is the spit & polish wit the reader in mind.
    Great post!

  24. Oh & of course, I scanned over the e-mail portion.

  25. You are so right, Jody. I can't imagine anything that would be more gratifying as a writer than to hear from readers who loved my story.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  26. Pk Hrezo said... I'm naming your book as my book club selection this year when my turn comes around. Looking forward to the read.

    My response: THANK YOU!! That's awesome! If you have the chance to take a picture of your book club discussing my book, send it to me and I'll put it on my website! :-)

  27. I think at first you can't think about the reader, because the idea in your head is most likely a story you need to tell and that comes first. Then you can take another look at the writing, the subplots, etc. and see how you can make that story come alive for the reader in the same way you're feeling it. Writing to please the reader though will never work, because too many readers want something different. As readers we take our own experiences into each book, and so our experience is shaped by who we are. The writer can write the best book in the world, but if it hits too close to home for a reader in the wrong way they won't like it. Or vice versa. :) That's the part of being true to the story I try and follow. Tell a good story and let the cards fall from there.

    Great post as always! Happy Valentine's Day!

  28. I think we have to write for ourselves first, then edit for our readers.

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  29. Yum! That sounds fun! I'll have to check it out...

    You don't need to keep the readers in mind. If you write a good book, they will come. Everyone likes something different, so I don't think there is any secret ingredient, other than the basics of good writing.

    PS.. not every author gets those notes. I've read over a dozen books this year. I would send that note to maybe three authors... and one of them is you!

  30. I guess an email would be nice if I want to win, right? :)

    carriedair AT gmail DOT com


  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. Writer question:

    Yes, I always have my readers in mind when I write a story. Of course, I also always pray. But where would we be without readers, and I love each one of mine.


  33. As a writer, I DO believe it is vital to write with the reader in mind. We might have a plethora of "golden ideas" in our brain, but unless we can get inside the head of the reader through our would all be in vain.

    What I most love about writing is feeling the power of my words' affecting the mindset of the reader. We DO have the influence to transform paradigms through literature.

  34. My email is in my profile. I like adventure stories the best. Writers need to be careful to make things realistic. The music doesn't always play the right song, the man isn't always handsome, etc. If it gets too much like a fairy tale, I lose interest (Unless you establish it's such from the beginning)

  35. I love romance and sci-fi. I guess both are to escape reality, but the romance ones could be real... the sci-fi is for when I need an escape from the real for a while. :O)

    estrella8888 at roadrunner dot com

  36. My main priority is to write an entertaining story for the reasder. I don't know if I'm there yet but working on it.
    Your book was terrific and I am so happy that so many others shared with you that same thought:)

  37. As a writer, I think like a reader. "If I was reading this, would I like this part?", "Is this character believable?", etc. I think there has to be a balance of writing the story in your heart but also writing it for entertainment. You are going to have to read it yourself (revising, editing, etc.) after all.

    As a reader, which at this point I am more of than a writer, I enjoy historical fiction/romance. There has to be character growth for me for me to really love it. Also, love a happy ending. Or at least one that has hope.

  38. It must be amazing to received feedback like that - congratulations and thank you for sharing it with us.

  39. As a writer, I absolutely want to keep the reader in mind. We all aren't in it for the money (or we'd starve) but I, for one, hope beyond hope that what I write gets read. I'd like to enter the drawing! My email is Thanks for the great blog!

  40. I've been so caught up in the dream of seeing my name on a book on a bookshelf in a bookstore. It never occurred to me that people still write fan mail.

    As for who to write for, I feel that we write for ourselves and we edit for our readers.

  41. When I was younger, mysteries were my favorite genre. Now I would say that historical fiction is my favorite. The most important thing for a writer to do is to make me care about the main character. If I feel that I know him or her and really feel concerned about their future, then the book is a successful one.

    My email is!

  42. My reader is the audience every time I sit to write. They cheer me on and motivate me to push my writing to higher heights. I enjoy writing because I enjoy the opportunity to affect my readers. Otherwise I would write for myself and not with the aim of publication.

  43. Do you think it’s important to write with the reader in mind? Why or why not?

    I think it's very important to write with the reader in mind. I mean, that's why our stories require so much plotting in the first place. If we were only writing for ourselves it wouldn't matter when we revealed that big hint that foreshadows the twist to come.

    With that said, I think that it's possible to go too far and begin writing ONLY what you think readers will want. At that point the writing loses its soul and passion. Amazingly, I've read published books that seem to have fallen into this trap.

    Great question, and what a fun giveaway! Who doesn't love chocolate :)

  44. I'm going to answer the 2nd question.

    I don't have a particular favourite genre, but I do like the suspense and supernatural type of books. I also enjoy romance (some), and, really...just most types really.

    I think authors need to make their books "real". Life isn't all rainbows and lollipops, and things don't always work out perfectly. I think authors shouldn't be afraid to write something where the girl doesn't get the guy (or ends up with the not so perfect guy instead of the "perfect" one), or where they are faced with struggles that they can't overcome, or don't get resolved in a couple of chapters. You know, more real life-like.

  45. Actually did not stop by for the giveaway, (but hey, if you insist:) been meaning to come around and say hello! Great post, as always.

    I am very glad you need to write. Your book has a quality about it that just sets it apart, and I can't say that about every book I read. You truly have a God given talent. Can't wait for the next one to come out!
    Karen :)


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