Friday, May 24, 2013

In Appreciation of Readers

A writer without readers is like…well…a day without sunshine! A cart without wheels! Beer without pretzels! (groan) Okay, you get the idea. We writers are incomplete without our readers.

This past week, I had the privilege of meeting some old and new readers at two book signings I attended in Pennsylvania. It was such fun to have folks drop by and comment on books they’ve read or to ask about books of mine they’ve yet to read. Of course, it was gratifying when a reader asked for an autograph and happily carried away another book. But I’m a firm believer that book signings aren’t primarily for the purpose of selling books (though we hope that happens.) I think we authors attend book signings to meet our readers or new potential readers, to create a personal connection.

For me, it was an opportunity to return to my home town of Brownsville and to be greeted by folks I’ve not seen in years, not since I started writing. Going home is always a risk because you just never know how, after so many years, you or your book will be received. It meant so much to be warmly welcomed and to have my writing welcomed as well. My contemporary romance novel, A Falling Star, is actually set in my home town under a fictional name and highlights a lot of local businesses and landmarks. The signing was held in a small co-op store called Nonna’s Trunk (one of the few businesses open in the struggling town.) Blanche and Linda were such gracious hostesses.

I then moved on to a signing at the public library in the town of Carmichaels where my maternal grandparents had lived and where I also spent much of my childhood. They even had my name in big block letters.

I was blown away by the people who came—people I’d never before met. I left both signings energized to write, to create more stories. Because I’d sold books? That’s important, but it wasn’t the main factor. It was because I listened to what my books have meant to readers.

Thanks to you readers out there. You’re the wheels on our carts. You give our writing meaning and purpose when you read our books. And we authors always love to hear from our readers, so don’t be shy. When an author visits your local bookstore or some other venue in your area, stop by. You don’t have to buy a book to attend a book signing. Just stop to say hello. You have no idea what that means to us.

Happy reading!

Linda Rettstatt 


Big Mike said...

Small towns are struggling. I live in SW VA. Once a month a store locks its doors to empty windows and no new ones are coming to live. In the micro own where I live there's 11 stores. In last 5 years half have shut down. One of the many reasons book sales continue to decline for large and small authors. Saw on TV last night 1 out of 2 graduates from last year still haven't found a job yet. So if ya wonder why your sales are going south, its still the economy.


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Thanks for the cold water bath, Mike. I didn't know I was boiling while being "canned." And, I wanted to say something encouraging, now it's flown.

linda_rettstatt said...

It's sad, Mike, to see small towns shutting. But what I love is the spirit that remains. My home town is mostly boarded up storefronts, but people still come out to celebrate life with such hope and enthusiasm--parades, festivals in the central parking lot--even book signings. Where there's life, there's hope.

January Bain said...

Linda, such a lovely story! I think you've got it exactly right.


Liz Fountain said...

You're right, Linda; there's nothing that brings as much joy as shaking the hand or getting a hug from a real live reader. In our own home towns, it achieves a special sweetness.