Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cara Putman--So you want to be a reader…

At times it still feels a tad odd sharing thoughts about writing. Not that I’m not opinionated. My husband would roar if he saw that sentence. I think there are many days he’d beg me to quit slinging my opinions around for all to see and hear.

But because I honestly feel so new to this amazing, complex, crazy business.
There’s so much I am learning, and I love that about this industry. As long as my heart and mind remain eager to learn, I will have no reason at all to grow bored. How can I when the industry constantly changes and fluxes.

But to be different, I thought I’d write a post about how to be a reader.

“Reader?” You ask. “I’ve known how to do that since I had to read Cat in the Hat and other Dr. Seuss gems.”

I know. I know. But wouldn’t you like to be a reader who moves beyond just reading and let’s authors and others know what you think and like? How about starting a bookclub? Or finding authors that write with a similar style or in the same genre as a favorite author?

As a life-long inhaler of books and influencer for many books over the last two years, here are some thoughts on how to not just read but encourage the offering of more books that you like.

1) When you find an author that you like, let someone else know. One rule of thumb seems to hold true for most fiction readers. We inhale books. Voraciously. With an appetite that doesn’t end. Therefore, we’re always looking for new authors. But the fact remains, few of us are willing to risk our money on an author we haven’t heard about. So talk up your favorites. Let others know about books and authors you’re enjoying.
2) Post short reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Books, etc. Tell people in a few sentences what you honestly liked about a book. You can also mention if there was something that didn’t resonate with you. But these short little posts will help people make purchasing decisions about books their considering. I have several books sitting in my to-be-read pile because of other people’s recommendations.
3) Join or start a bookclub. Now this is one that I’ve talked about doing for awhile, but let me say the book manager at my local Christian bookstore loves the idea. We just have to find time to sit down and figure out how to make it work. Bookclubs are a great way to get exposed to new books. The club can be genre specific. My aunt has belonged to a mystery/suspense club at a bookstore in Lincoln, NE, for years. These folks love to read. And she’s directed me to several new authors as a result of her exposure in the bookclub.
4) Give books as gifts. I do this all the time. If I know someone’s a reader, or really think they’d like an author, then that’s the gift they’re going to get. One time I loaned a friend Trish Perry’s first book The Guy I’m Not Dating. She loved it so much she bought at least 4 copies to give as gifts and another to keep. And now she’s a fan of Christian chick lit. All from loaning/giving that first book.

It can be really easy to help spread the word about Christian fiction. And I can tell you from experience, the authors love hearing from you.
Cara Putman is a woman living a dream God planted in her heart years ago.
An honors graduate of University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!) and George Mason Law School, Cara is an attorney licensed in Virginia and Indiana. She clerked for the Honorable Loren Smith at the Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. before following her husband to Indiana.
In 2005 she attended a book signing at her local Christian bookstore. At the book signing her husband told Colleen Coble that she wanted to be writer. She's been running ever since to keep up. Barbour's Heartsong Presents line just released her first book, Canteen Dreams, a WWII historical set in Nebraska, which will be followed by Sandhill Dreams in May 2008 and Captive Dreams in September 2008. Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense will publish her first romantic suspense Deadly Exposure in May 2008.
Cara is also an attorney, wife, mom to a 7 year old, four year old and one on the way, homeschool teacher, occasional professor at Purdue, women's ministry leader, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids that is. In her "spare" time she serve as publicity officer for American Christian Fiction Writers and president of the Indiana chapter. To learn more check out http://www.acfw.com/.


Tina M. Russo said...

What a lovely post.

Congratulations on your releases and thank you for being in Seekerville, Cara.

I like to give random acts of book kindness and mail book care packages. :)

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Read your bio and, well...I thought I was busy LOL!

Great ideas on being an avid reader.

Good luck and God's blessings on your books.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Cara, welcome to Seekerville. We've got gals heading to RWA National today, what a fun thing to experience...

Go, Seekers!

Cara, you're obviously a goal setter and a time manager to successfully juggle all those plates. Do you actually get to practice law anymore?

Besides enforcing the laws of the household, of course!


Melanie Dickerson said...

Great points about how to be a better "reader," Cara! I love promoting books on my blog. What fun! And publicists actually email me and ask, Would you like a couple of free copies of this book to review and give away on your blog? Well, sure! But I don't accept every book offered me. If it's something I don't think I'll like, or if I've already got too many to review, I will say no. But when I read a book that I absolutely love, I can't wait to review it and plaster my gushy, mushy review all over the internet--Amazon, B&N, christianbook, in addition to my blog. And a lot of authors tend to really appreciate that. You never know who you might end up becoming friends with.

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Cara! Wow, I am always super-impressed with gals like you who manage to keep so many plates spinning AND make it look so effortless.

Books. I have so many in my waiting-to-be-read stack that I will NEVER get through them all. And it doesn't help when my favorite authors bring out new books that naturally get advanced to the top of the stack. ;>)

I'm a book hoarder, too. Just love seeing all those titles lined up on my bookshelves (which are about to explode!). Our daughter came for a visit last week and joked about "visiting Mom's bookstore" for something good to read. She borrows my books, shares a few with friends, and eventually returns them.

Mary Connealy said...

Good morning ladies. I heard Janet already headed out for nationals. I need them to hold national RWA a little closer to home in a little less expensive city.

Cara Putman said...

I love giving books as gifts. I mean, doesn't everybody love books, LOL. Ruth, I don't actively practice 5 days a week, but I do still work on projects that interest me. I also teach business law and am writing the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law. Right now I enjoy the writing and teaching -- and time with the kiddos! Melanie, I love spreading the word, too! A good book just begs to be bragged on. And Myra, I love to hoard books, but am trying really hard to be honest about which books I'll read again, so I can give the others to a church library. And I'm constantly lending them to friends, too.

Julie Lessman said...

Okay, Cara, I'm worn out just reading your bio!!! Holy cow, woman, you are a real go-getter, you know that???

Welcome to Seekerville and AMEN to your wonderful blog!! Boy, if just a few readers would apply what you suggested, that would be SUPER awesome!! Thanks for the great ideas and taking time out of your busy day to share with us.


Pam Hillman said...

I know all about how hard Cara works. We serve on the ACFW board together.

Good to have you here.

Ausjenny said...

great ideas there. I do some of them now. I have a few friends who always get books as gifts. Partly cos I tend to buy books for me thinking I dont have them only to find I do and then some I know my friends will love and I cant give up my copy.
Since reading blogs I am finding new books and I am also learning what I love best and what books I are not me.
Thanks for the ideas

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey Cara! Welcome to Seekerville. I loved what you said about telling people if you find an author you like. I heard recently that word-of-mouth is still the best marketing.

Great post!



Sandra Leesmith said...

Cara, Thanks for posting on Seekerville. I loved all your ideas. I think giving books, especially autographed books is terrific. It promotes our genre, it promotes our author friends and makes the recipient happy to have a good book to read. If I don't happen to have a book handy to give, I give gift cards to book stores. We must promote our business.

Thanks for the great ideas and thanks again for joining us.