The Reader’s Mighty Pen, Part 1

- by Laura Resnick

RRR

Writing a book requires months upon months of effort, drive, commitment, and vision. When the book is finally done, polished, and tweaked to the best of my ability, I deliver it to my editor and (drum roll, please)…I get a revision letter. Not awards, not ovations, not the roar of the crowd. No, I get told about all the ways in which the work is inadequate and in need of improvement.

By the time a book goes out into the marketplace, I’ve already been numbed by the events which have greeted it ever since delivery: editing, payment delays, copy editing, production, packaging, cover copy, more delays, shipping, etc. Then come the reviews. No matter how many people praise the book, you can always count on a few reviewers feeling honor-bound to trash it in print for all the world to see.

So one day you’re thinking, “Why do I bother? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I become a lawyer, or a stripper, or a lion tamer instead of a writer? I could’ve had class, I could’ve been a contender!” And just as you’re rethinking your professional choices and ordering a sequin-covered G-string…you get a letter like this:

“I am nineteen years old and really never liked reading. But for some reason I bought your book and I was totally engulfed in it. I would find myself reading for hours on end. And that’s real rare in me. It takes a special kind of book to do that. I think I have only enjoyed two maybe three books in my life, but yours blew them all away…You made [me an] avid reader and [now I] am eagerly awaiting your next book.”

And suddenly, even lion taming doesn’t seem as appealing as sitting down to write your next book, your next chapter, your next page, your next word. Because you’ve been reminded that people are reading what you write, people care, people want more—and a big part of what made you a writer, a filthy pro, is the drive to tell your tales to others.

Some of my readers are apologetic about writing to me, saying they’re sure I get pestered by far too much fan mail (yeah, right), but they were so engaged by something I wrote that they felt they had to contact me. Several have even apologized for being so “disrespectful” as to ask when the next book is coming out, because they just can’t wait. Some have written to ask me to further build on certain characters or certain aspects of previous work. All these readers have no idea how much their comments mean to me.

However, despite how moving or rewarding most of our reader mail is, we’ve all also received…The Other Kind of mail.

And we’ll talk about that in my next blog here!

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