We talk about editors.
We talk about authors.
We talk about agents.
We talk about contests.
Now, let’s talk about readers.
Can I let you in on a little secret? Without readers, we wouldn’t need any of the above. Readers are the lifeblood of this whole industry. Sure, we all know that, but I don’t think it hurts to be reminded every so often.
My boss has a big sign on his door that says, “The customer is always right.” And he believes in it. His first reaction to every complaint is that the customer is always right. Granted, we see some customers that we’re pretty sure aren’t right, but we run with that motto as long as we possibly can.
He has another sign taped to the wall in the copier room. “The sale is not complete until the product is worn out, and the customer is still satisfied.”
Where’s the proof in that? One example: I have a dog-eared copy of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It’s falling apart, and I’m still satisfied!
So, let’s insert the word reader instead of customer. The reader is always right. Right?
No? Well, maybe not the reader who sends you that snarky letter detailing every misspelled word in your book, or telling you that she can’t stand your hero, or hates your heroine’s name because her ex’s new girlfriend has the same name. But given the correct spin, that reader can be redeemed, and go on to be your lifelong fan. Give it your best shot, and if they can’t be won over, you’ve done the best you can.
As a reader, I want to read stories that suck me in and hold me down until the last page. I love inspirational historical romance, but I also enjoy romantic suspense, contemporary romance, women’s fiction, a little sci-fi/fantasy, intrique, but none of those genre labels mean a thing if the story I’m reading is flat, flat, flat, or boring, boring, boring, or if the plot is half-baked.
An aside: In my day job, we purchase a product that looks a lot like a car radiator. There are several testing procedures these radiators have to go through before the manufacturer ships them to us. One test is immersion in a tank of water and air is pumped through the radiator. If there are bubbles, there is a hole somewhere, right? Recently, one of these had a hole the size of a pencil eraser, but had been stamped as tested.
We want the reader to be happy, to love our books, and keep coming back for more. To do that, we don’t want to skimp on story, character, plot, the editing process, or packaging. Offer your readers the absolute best product you can. Don’t cut corners on any part of the process.
Nobody stays in business offering a shoddy product.
Maybe I’m prejudiced, but it seems that my published Seeker sisters, their agents, and editors all partner together to offer a product that keeps the customer happy, and that’s what it’s all about. Give the customer what she wants as much as it is in your power.
Bottom line: the reader is always right….or they won’t remain a reader for long. And without readers, where would we be?