I confess I have yet to write a book with readers in mind. It still blows my tiny brain that I actually even have readers. I don’t mean people who happen to pick up my book, read it and move on, but those who buy my books because they are written by me, those who have followed me over this past year and not only look forward to the next release but also engage with me on social media or through my website. I have a readership. Me. That is so surreal.
I have to admit that when a fellow author tells you how much they enjoy your work and will buy your next book without even checking the blurb, or that you’re one of their favourite new authors, it’s a wonderful feeling. It means something different I think because there’s enough ego in all of us that we want to impress our peers. But readers come in all shapes and sizes, and when you engage with them you don’t even think of them as readers anymore – they are your social media friends, taking up residence in your lives often on a daily basis. It’s an equable exchange, and so rewarding.
I’ve written before about the generosity of fellow authors and the many wonderful bloggers out there, but readers are often also generous in a number of ways. Some post their support of your work on as many social media groups as they possibly can, either by mentioning your work, putting up graphics depicting your covers or banners, and sharing your own posts as well as those from others in which you or your work are mentioned. Readers have attended my book signings (yes, not just family and friends!!), have spent some time with readers at events, and have one who at Christmas sent me a card and a lovely, totally unexpected gift. When that kind of thing happens, when you are on the receiving end of such a kindness, you can’t help but be touched by it.
I have always been grateful to anyone who spends their own money buying my books, but it never occurred to me until much later that many readers are grateful to me for writing them, for providing them with entertainment in the form they love so much. I have to say it’s a wonderful feeling, and it comes to the point that when you do release your next piece of work you think of your readership and hope that they, more than anyone else, enjoy it.
But here’s the thing. In my view, the moment you move away from what made you write in the first place, and try writing solely for your audience, you will inevitably lose something in translation. It’s a bit like selecting a different genre to write in simply because it’s the latest big-selling fad. I’m of the opinion that your best work comes when you write what’s in you to write at any given moment. That you write for you, produce a book that you want to read. Ultimately, I think if I wrote with my readers in mind I would end up short-changing them. I figure you cannot please everybody out there, but you simply have to please yourself. So if you are an avid reader of my books and you’re reading this now, I hope you understand why, when I sit down at my desk and start clattering away on those keys, my mind never strays away from it to you. Believe me, it’s not that I don’t respect you, it’s that I do.
To all of you – I remain forever grateful.