Saturday, December 08, 2007

Read for Fun, America!

I meant to write about this weeks ago, but I was having too much fun reading other things. Back in November there was an article in the New York Times about how fewer people are reading for pleasure. It was based on a National Endowment for the Arts study. It got me thinking: What does this say about the state of publishing?

I believe that lots of people read for fun. I see it on the train every work day. But I'm also seeing a lot more people using their portable DVD players, and it seems every other person has iPod buds sticking out of their ears. And of course, there are several masochists who do work on the train (full disclosure: I do too, sometimes, but I don't enjoy it).

Books and a train commute are a perfect combination, so why aren't more people reading? Perhaps it's because so many books out there suck. A possibility, at least. But I suspect it's because the marketing doesn't know how to build or develop an audience -- especially for mid-list writers. Let's face it, it's easy to publicize a Stephen King novel. He's got years of successful novels under his belt and has connected wiht his audience better than any writer I know of. But why don't more people know about Christopher Moore? He's funny, he's entertaining, he's occasionally irreverant. Lord knows how many people are fans of his type of story, but it's a lot. This past year, when he released You Suck, the book was reviewed by the Times. Yet, there aren't enough people who know about him. I mention his name to other voracious readers, and they've never heard of him; when they read him, they like him.

One of the reasons I created this blog was to promote writers I like (of course, no one reads this either, so there you go!). I don't mean promote in the marketing sense; lord knows I'm no marketer.

Ultimately, I hope to create an audience for my books, which I think people will enjoy and believe they'll enjoy the subsequent books I produce. I'm sure this is naive, but I'm looking forward to speaking with readers, even if they challenge me to justify scenes or characters or a story's premise. The author is the best marketer for his or her work, but authors need publicists and strong editors and a team of professionals to make things sing. That's one of the reasons why publishers get the percentage of sales that they get; they're paying for the risk and for the overhead.

As readers, we don't have to worry about all that. We just have to read and enjoy. So read for fun, America! Use the imagination that you've been blessed with!

And if you happen to be on my blog, let me know what you've been reading and why. I'll share it with others. Let's get more people reading!

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