Friday, March 25, 2011

Who is the Coolest Reader you know?

Who is the coolest reader you know?

Tim O'Reilly from O'Reilly Publishing asked this question at SXSW.  For the non-geeks out there, Tim built a huge publishing empire by writing technical documentation the way computer users wanted it.  His company wrote the Missing Manual series, as well as many other books.

He actually didn't ask this question - not precisely in this way, but I took his thought and mashed it up with the idea of being an indie author.  Readers are your consumers.  Tim asked, who is the coolest consumer/customer - I ask, who is the coolest reader you know?

What makes that reader so passionate about reading?  How do they read?  How do they find the books they read?  Where do they hang out on-line, or do they?  Where do they buy their books?  What or who influences their purchase decisions?

And finally, what do your readers love?

Join the fun and write down answers to these questions.  Imagine what we might learn from each other as we peer into the world of a reader.  Are you a reader?   Does being a reader change who you are as a writer?  Does being a writer change how you read?

Tell me more.  I am keenly interested in what you think and believe about readers.

The coolest reader I know is my dear friend MK.  She's a kick-ass head nurse.  She reads to forget about a stressful day at the hospital.  She reads to experiences places or times in history that she can't reach due to the laws of physics and finances.  She's passionate about strong characters, people she'd like to know in real life, share a beer, or maybe even bring into her family.  Last year she recommended the Outlander series by Diana Galbanon to me.  Her words, "You simply MUST read this book.  Don't call me again until you do."  Now there's a convincing recommendation.  What makes MK passionate about a book?  The emotional story - the struggles, the interplay between the characters, and most of all, their moral dilemmas.

She reminds me what matters in storytelling, the choices our characters make.  And she loves a good belly laugh.  The kind you get when the hero does something completely silly or inexplicable.  Totally human.  Her laughter washes away the tension from a hard day at work.

As a writer, there's no greater honor in my mind that providing that moment to a reader.

MK used to hang out at the Library bookstore in Clayton, Missouri, but that establishment is long gone, morphed into a big box bookstore.  Now she wanders through a small shop in Kirkwood.  She hasn't gone digital yet because she's one of those people that loves the feel of a good book in her hands.  She likes Goodreads, but she's not very active in the boards.  Maybe later when she has more time.  She finds her books from staff recommendations, can can be found in the stacks after a hard day.
MK changed how I write.  She makes me take my responsibilities more serious.  Her time is precious and I respect what she brings to the reader-book-author triad.  Three distinct personalities, all giving something to each other.

Who is the coolest reader you know?  Share what they've taught you as a writer.


Karen in Ohio said...

Does it help when writing fiction to picture your reader?

When I was writing my first non-fiction book I taped up a mission statement about the type of person I was writing it for. It helped me keep my focus on her.

C.L. Phillips said...


Great question. I believe so. I believe there's an unspoken promise between the reader and the writer.

The reader brings an open heart. The writer brings a story that fills the open heart.

Agree? Or not? What do you believe?