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Are More Readers Turning Into Writers?

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Recently a fellow author shared the link to an interesting article called: Are There More Authors Than Readers. The article cites the commonly known statistic that says 80% of Americans want to write a book and says: "Now that it’s so easy and straightforward to write and publish your own book – How many of those 80% of Americans will write a book?"

The article goes on to expound on the thought: "Everyone has a story to share. How many people are willing to listen? We have hundreds of millions of people around the world that are reaching the stage where they have enough rich life experience to write meaningful things. We also have nearly as many people who understand the nuances well enough to write things that thrill and give pleasure and scare and excite and connect. Even among the younger generations we have some fine writers."

The article concludes that as more and more people write their stories and with the ease of self-publishing, the number of writers could eventually outnumber the amount of readers.

I'm not sure I would draw the same conclusion. I don't think everyone who starts out to write a book will finish. Those who complete one book will not necessarily go on to write more. And even fewer writers will persevere to make careers of writing books.

As anyone who's ever written a book knows, developing a writing career is not as easy as it first appears!

Nevertheless, let's hypothetically say that more readers ARE turning in to writers. Here are several reasons why I think that could be a good thing:

1. Readers who turn into writers will become more aware of the process of writing and publication. They'll understand the difficulties. When they've experienced the hardships first hand, they'll likely become more sensitive in their criticisms and less judgmental to the writerly life.

2. Readers who turn into writers will become more aware of the cost of books. They'll understand just how difficult it is for writers to profit from their hard work. And they'll be more apt to BUY books to support authors.

3. Readers who turn into writers usually read even more voraciously. As Stephen King says: If you want to be a writer you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. Writers read to learn about their genres, to develop awareness of writing techniques, and to become more knowledgeable of the publishing industry.

4. Readers who turn into writers are usually incredibly supportive influencers for authors. They want to help promote because they know how critical word of mouth is to the success of a book. And they want to help others because they know that someday they'll need that help for themselves.

All of the above points are true for me! Since I've started writing seriously, I've become MUCH more knowledgeable of the writing life, more gracious in my criticism, and more accepting of differences. I'm MUCH more likely to buy books (versus checking them out from the library). I read WAY MORE voraciously now than ever before. And I LOVE being able to support other authors.

All that to say, I don't discourage anyone from trying their hand at writing a book. If the passion is there, you'll never know whether to pursue a writing career unless you try. Besides, you don't want to reach the end of your life and have regrets that you didn't live to the fullest and do the things you dreamed about.

And if writing ends up NOT being your thing, that's okay too. You can check writing off your bucket list, knowing that you didn't let fear hold you back. The process won't be wasted because we grow stronger when we do hard things.

Dear readers, have YOU ever considered writing a book? Do you think it's possible that some day we could have more writers than readers? Why or why not?

25 comments:

  1. Yes, I have considered writing a book before. If I write one I'd like it to be a motivational or uplifting/inspiring book.
    No I don't think you'll ever have more writer's than readers because writers read sooooo as long as writers are still reading how can there be more writers than readers? :)

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  2. After being a heavy reader for several years and then trying to write a book, I discovered in future reading I was both less critical of plots and writing (more understanding) and far more critical. I'm quicker to discard a book, but also quicker to appreciate and enjoy the qualities of good storytelling. The writing experience has permanently changed how I read and now it takes a very talented author for me to entirely slip out my critical brain when I'm reading. Though I'm not a professional author, I've really enjoyed deepening my understanding of storytelling through writing, and maybe someday my writing experiences will help me achieve some goals in life. :)

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    1. Good point! On the one hand, I've become more gracious with other writers because I know I can't expect perfection since I myself am not perfect! On the other hand, my internal editor has become more prominent when I read so that I have a hard time reading without letting the red pen go crazy! :-) Even so, I think I'm much more understanding of authors, books, and the writing life in general and less judgmental.

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  3. I wouldn't like to hazard a guess as to whether there will be more writers than readers Jody, but what I have noticed,is the reverse.
    There definitely seems to be a bigger increase in writers READING your blog (and also making comments to your posts on WOP.) Mind you,it is possible that I have just realised the readers are authors..a lot of the names are new to me,but it is only since you became a regular on WOP that I have noticed this and one soon gets to recognise those that contribute regularly.:)

    It is quite amazing that you chose this topic,because earlier today I was looking at your blog for writers and wondering as a reader whether I dare post a comment.:)

    I have considered the possibility of writing a book and as you know I'm still hankering the idea as a "travel journo." I certainly have some experiences to share, but there has to be a market for that sort of writing. We shall see.

    Years ago,I wrote a story for my "toddler" children just for fun and then when my eldest daughter was in Year 9, she had to write a childrens story as part of her English curriculum and she dedicated it to her younger sister and brother. I thought that was so touching!:)

    Ironically,my girls and myself turned to the Nursing profession,but I can assure you...there is NOTHING like a good book to help me unwind after coming off a very stressful shift. I lose myself in my book completely,and feel myself relaxing..it's such a great nightcap!

    Just keep writing dear Jody and I will be very happy to keep reading!LOL

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    1. Rosie,

      Please don't ever hesitate to post a comment here on my blog, my dear!! Whether the post is geared for writers or readers, YOU are always welcome to share your thoughts. I think many people who swing by are probably a combo of both reader/writer. And the more I get to know many of my readers, the more I'm realizing that many of them are aspiring writers too! So there's a lot of overlap.

      Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement, Rosie! I appreciate you so much! :-)

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  4. I love the idea of everybody at least TRYING to write a book. But in a sense, pretty much all readers are already writers of a sort - even if they didn't write a book, there were essays and book reports and such all throughout schooling. They simply may not have enjoyed it or been very good at it.

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  5. Interesting topic, Jody. I am both a reader and writer. I think most (if not all) writers began as readers. I think most (if not all) writers would still consider themselves readers. Therefore, I do not think writers will ever outnumber readers.

    Blessings for a wonderful day!
    Andrea

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  6. I disagree with part of this sentence from the article:

    "Now that it’s so easy and straightforward to write and publish your own book –"

    It might be easier than ever to *publish* your own book, but it's not easy to *write* a book, in my opinion.

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    1. Very good distinction, Laurie. It might be easier to publish a book these days, but that doesn't mean that it's any easier to actually write the book! In fact, with all the books clamoring for attention, I'd have to say the bar keeps rising for great stories and excellent writing techniques.

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    2. Agreed! Also, I wanted to come back and say I didn't mean to sound so harsh, I was picking on that specific comment, not you. :-)

      But I don't know why this idea that writing a book is "so easy" has come up lately. I guess people are reading and/or hearing about more "indie" authors and books, people self-publishing a lot more. And that's great, but somehow the idea that writing a book is easy...it's not. Much harder than it looks.

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  7. I 100% agree with Laurie Evans! No good book is ever going to just write itself. Even the most dedicated aspiring author, the one who is willing to skip meals and bedtimes to try to make their publishing dreams come true, struggles with finding the time and energy to write. However easy the publishing process might become, there are a whole lotta steps to take before you even get close to that one.

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  8. I think it is important to note that when someone sets out to become a writer that doesn't stop them from also being a reader.

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  9. In the electronic age of gadgets, it's easier and easier for information to be passed along to readers. I think there is an influx of new authors, but also new readers to be able to pick and choose what they want to read. More books and more readers.

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  10. I'm actually starting right now =)

    But I think its impossible to have more writers than readers and if it did happen for it to be a problem. When I started a goodreads account and added almost 30 books just from the top of my head and added more that I wanted to read. Avid readers and writers don't limit themselves to just a few authors. I think that the original author underestimated how willing people are to try out new authors on a regular basis.

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  11. Thank you all for sharing today!! I'm really enjoying the discussion! :-)

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  12. Well, Jody, as a long time reader, I can tell you I am NOT considering writing a book ;-) When I was a teen, yes, but not now, and here's why:

    As a blogger/reviewer, I've had the absolute pleasure of getting to know a lot of authors and have followed the ups and downs of their journeys. I also have the privilege of becoming close friends and a critique partner of a precious few. With that experience, I have come to know (by sharing with my beloved author friends) the courage it takes to write a book, the heartache of rejection, the agonising over whether a manuscript is headed in the right direction, the good and the bad of the publishing world, the pain of vitriolic reviews. Lest I paint a totally negative picture, I've also shared the joys of writing an exceptional book, the blessing of positive feedback when lives are touched by a story, and the knowledge you are doing what you are called to do. I'm no lily livered gal but it takes an especially courageous and dedicated person, and obviously a talented one, to write an amazing story ~ I'm more than happy to leave that to wonderful writers like yourself. Besides as a reader, I get all the gain without the pain ;-D

    Well, I've waffled on, haven't I?!

    xoxo

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    1. Hey Rel,

      You absolutely haven't waffled at all! I'm really enjoying the discussion! I don't know if it's me and the blogging community, but it seems that I run across more and more readers who are aspiring to be writers, who are working on their first novel, or who at the very least dream about writing a book. So I thought the article cited above was definitely relevant. But as I said, I'm just not sure that I agree. You've given some more great reasons why I think some readers are very content to remain readers!! As a reviewer and industry insider, you've been able to get a deeper glimpse than perhaps other readers. But still, as you said, being a writer does take dedication and courage!

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  13. I've got to make myself read more. Lol. I enjoy writing far more than I enjoy reading. Is it really THAT easy to get published these days? I keep reading about self-publishing. I have know idea what that's all about. It's an interesting thought -more writers than readers. Lol. Great post. :)

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  14. I think that if more readers become writers, then the bar of a successful writer will raise, not only because there will be more fiction being produced, but because as readers become more knowledgeable of the process, they will crave better books.
    Already, I'm more discriminating of the books I read. I check out reviews more than I used to, and through places like Goodreads, I find out what my friends (friends in the virtual sense, that is!) think of books. And I've set aside more free ebooks than I care to admit because of issues I would have glossed over in the past.

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  15. Great points! I agree with you. I don't know if there's more or if it's just easier now to be open about it. Who knows how many people scribbled on paper they threw away or hid before the internet came about. But now it's just easier to put it up or talk about it or even find support among other writers.
    I'm not worried either. Everyone should be encouraged to explore their interests and talents, imo.

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  16. I think there will always be readers, because it's something that people will always enjoy. I think a lot of people want to be published, but they don't necessarily want to write. Once they realize how difficult it is, some of those people might not continue to write. I want to be published too, of course, but I'm still going to keep writing even if I don't get published.

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  17. New follower. Found you completely by chance, or providence. Loved the post. Agree 100%. And you're right, this writer will be adding you to her to-read list!

    I'm tired of hearing the lamenting of too many writers. I had the dream and got the chance to fulfill it. Why would I crush that for someone else? I suppose I would if I feared competition, and what would that say about my writing?

    Also read you ten tips for new writers. Loved it too. You're a smart lady.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Elizabeth! I really like your attitude too! None of us need to be in the business of crushing anyone's dreams! :-)

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  18. I think people would definitely benefit if they not only read, but wrote too. The appreciation, understanding and support everyone could offer each other would be wonderful.

    Thanks for this post, Jody!

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  19. Hello,yes your are right.i also love to write.in future many people think that benefit is in writing not in reading.it was a good also for your practise and more strong in language.Thnaks for sharing nice post.content writing

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