Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Keeping Your Reader, Reading

There's something to be said for a great book that keeps you reading until the very end.

I have been reading a book, but it's sort of a "read a few pages, set it down, pick it up and read a few more pages" kind of book. I just haven't been able to wrap my mind and heart around the book; I just don't LOVE it.

I belong to a book club, and the woman in charge is having the same problem. "Just read the last two chapters," she said. I guess she said this so I could at least join in on the discussion. Or maybe she told me this because the ending was SOMETHING ELSE. I haven't read the ending yet, so I don't really know, but her comment got me to thinking.

Is it the book itself that bothers me? No, it's well written. Is it the genre? Could be. I rarely read romances.

Suffice it to say, I'm still thinking about it. 

Keeping your reader, reading, is a tricky business. The reader may have picked up your book but maybe the plot surprised them, or your writing style was just not what they'd planned on. And maybe they're reading it on an electronic device and miss the smell of the ink on the book's pages. Maybe the opposite scenario is true.

Photo by: goXunuReviews, courtesy of Flickr

I had a reviewer tell me she was "pleasantly surprised" about my book, "Conquering Your Goliaths" because it wasn't "preachy." But in this case, it was great that she didn't get what she expected. She kept reading, and I received a good review.

I like to think of readers who keep reading as family members that really care. They aren't the ones who speak nicely, but decide not call you back after you've left a message. They aren't the ones who are kind to your face, and quite another behind your back. They might be friendly, but are less likely to want to spend quality time with you.

Readers like this will never finish my books. And they will never finish yours. And it may be because they have little in common (the writing style is not something they like, or the genre is just not something they read). And this is okay.

Keeping your reader reading isn't all about a great story, but about how your reader reads and interprets it; and you have no control over that. The best thing you can do is to write what you love, do what works for you, and bless their hearts, your readers will find you and keep finding you.

They will see your work and keep reading because your work does something to them--it makes them feel, it connects them to another world, one that they understand and never want to leave.

And that's the most important thing.



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