Blog: Tell Someone Who Cares

Unlike writers, readers are simple. I know, because I am a writer and a reader.

As a reader, I pick up a book and I know within seconds if it interests me. It might be the cover design or the title or, if I have time on my hands, the blurb on the back cover. I might have seen an ad, been alerted by a social media comment or heard a friend’s recommendation. It could be written by one of my favourite authors, in which case I’ll buy it solely for that reason, or given to me as a gift.

Readers don’t care how the book gets into their hands, but they do care what happens when they open it up and start reading. They have devoted some of that most precious resource, their time, and they will hold you, the writer, personally responsible if you do not deliver an engaging read. They may even abandon your book and vow to never read another word you write if you do not fulfil this one requirement.

But fortunately, that’s it. It’s all you have to do. They are not interested in you the person, where you come from, how you discovered your passion for writing, if you are gay, straight, bi, alien, animal, mineral or vegetable, or the million and one other uninteresting and irrelevant details and facts of your life and experience. They may well become interested if they like your book, but writers are two-a-penny and growing in number faster than rabbits.

Readers, quite reasonably, just want a good read.

And, in case writers get hung up on irrelevant detail, let’s take a look at a few other things readers do not care about. They have zero interest:

• If you write every day
• If you write 1, 100, 1,000 or 10,000 words a day
• If you write what you know
• If you write what you don’t know
• If you are a plotter or pantser
• If you do or don’t write a prologue
• If you use a single or multiple POVs
• If you write in the first, third or sixty-seventh person removed
• If you start in the middle of the story
• If you use Oxford commas or commas from elsewhere
• If you edit immediately after completing a draft
• If you put the manuscript aside for a while before editing
• If you had writer’s block
• If you didn’t have writer’s block
• If you are a member of a writer’s group
• If you employed Beta readers
• If you have a writing degree or diploma or any other formal writing education
• If you suffer physically or mentally for your art

In other words; it’s not their problem.

Writers are bombarded with dos and don’ts, so much that they can be fooled – usually by other writers – into thinking that the process is more important than the result. It isn’t. The reader wants a smooth, relaxed read, unconcerned and unburdened by all the angst, misery and uncertainty you experienced writing the book.

Whether or not you followed any contrived or non-existent writing ‘rules’ or conventions, whether or not you observed ‘common wisdom’ or the instruction of your writing heroes or gurus, or whether or not you wrote standing up, sitting down or submerged in water, none of it holds the slightest importance to the reader.

Now, excuse me, but that’s enough of your problems. I have a new book to read.