Writing Without a Reader is Like Kissing Without a Partner.

Print on demand publishers and publish on demand printers. Co-op publishing ventures. Ebook publishers and self-published ebooks. BookSurge and Lulu. Content providers for websites, personal websites. In this brave new world of publication, there is a way for anyone and everyone who has strung words together to be published.

What is lacking is readers. In fact, I would be willing to bet that many writers read less than one or two books a year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there are more writers than readers. Whether we like it or not, reading is considered to be entertainment, and the money spent on movies, music, games means less money for books.

The traditional publishing industry is answering this trend by promoting authors rather than titles. If your book is one of a series, you have a much greater chance of being published than those of us who prefer starting with a whole new set of characters for each novel. The publishing industry is also continuing their move toward more blockbuster novels, which stands to reason. It is cheaper to promote a single author than several. They still do publish books from new authors, but it is harder for you as a new author to attract the attention of a publisher, and if by chance you do attract their attention, for the most part they leave you to sink or swim on your own. This could be why so many people are publishing their own books. If you have to do your own promoting, why not reap all the rewards?

The sad truth is that while the self-publishing business is growing, the money earned by most individuals barely counts as an allowance. On average, a self-published book sells between four hundred and five hundred copies, which means that a few people who are good at self-promotion will sell a lot, while everyone else will only sell a few.

The only sane way to deal with this insane situation is to write for ourselves, but many of us feel the same way as John Cheever, who said, “I can’t write without a reader. It’s precisely like a kiss — you can’t do it alone.”

The next best thing is to write a fabulous novel that is so entertaining and well-written that any reader who sees it will immediately fall in love with it and spread the word.

It could happen.

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7 Responses to “Writing Without a Reader is Like Kissing Without a Partner.”

  1. sonjanitschke Says:

    “In fact, I would be willing to bet that many writers read less than one or two books a year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that there are more writers than readers. Whether we like it or not, reading is considered to be entertainment, and the money spent on movies, music, games means less money for books.”

    I respectfully disagree…every single writing book that I have ever read from authors such as Ray Bradbury and Stephen King say that every writer has to read (Neil Gaiman has said so as well, but I don’t think he’s written a book about writing yet). A lot. I think that aspiring writers, especially those who are a fan of such published and notable authors, will take their advice. A writer who doesn’t read more than two books a year is a sub par one and generally won’t improve. I, personally, read many more books than two a year, and so do many of my acquaintances who are also writers.

    Writing begets reading…I have never read so much as when I was writing. When I quit writing, I quit reading. When I made time to read, I began writing again.

  2. WC Says:

    I have written 4 books. Re-published all four through Two Creek Press. Lulu does my printing. I do my promotion. I don’t make any money but that wasn’t my intention. I write for the sheer joy of it. It’s my creative outlet. I am also an avid reader. I think your assumption about that is wrong. It’s because of reading that I started writing. One problem is that there are a lot of people that want to be John Grisham and they write a book. They try to contact a few publishers and agents and have no luck. They end up self-publishing and then realize they have to do all the promotional work themselves. They find out that mortar and brick bookstores don’t respect POD or self published books and won’t stock their book and allow booksignings. Newspapers and magazines usually won’t review POD or self published books. That leaves these writers to self promote themselves which most of them aren’t good at or don’t enjoy doing. It’s a difficult business I agree.

  3. Bertram Says:

    I hope you are both right about writers also being readers. I do know that many established writers are avid readers, and that many readers became writers as a natural progression of their avocation. I also know that the best way to learn how to write is to read, but I have “met” several writers on the internet who are proud of the fact that they don’t read. Perhaps they are in the minority.

  4. Suzanne Francis Says:

    I read when I have time, but in my busy life I often only have for one extra activity, and that is definitely writing. I like to tell myself that I spent thirty years reading voraciously so that I could spend the next thirty years writing voraciously. Who says you have to do them concurrently?

  5. jessicacoultersmith Says:

    I’m both a writer and a reader. While I don’t read as many books as I did prior to getting published (a lot of my time is spent writing, editing, and promoting) I still manage to read at least 2 books per week… on occasion I manage 3 or 4 per week. I have found that reading helps clear the cobwebs and gives me inspiration to pick up the pen (or laptop) and get back to it…

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Jessica, I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I weren’t reading at least two books per week. Like you, I used to read a lot more, but now much of my reading time is taken up with writing, editin, and promoting. Of course, if the book industry hadn’t stopped publishing the type of book I like to read, I would probably still be reading as much as I used to.

  6. Anthony Says:

    Well said Pat. It’s frustrating but probably true. Not enough readers to read our material… I think there are readers but not necessarily writers who read that much. I know Stephen King is a huge believer in reading a lot. I usually have a few books on the go at once, different types, but I try to read as much as I can. You have to be able to enjoy the process of reading . . . its like putting on a shoe — though i love the metaphor youve chosen.
    I like your blogs. Thanks for thinking of others on this difficult, lonely, frustrating road to rejection . . . I mean, publication . . .


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