Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for Readers

By Beth Terrell

In one of this weeks' blog posts, Nathan Bransford asked his readers (I started to say followers, but that sounded just a little too messianic) what they were grateful for as writers. As you can imagine, the responses ran the gamut, from the ability to write to supportive spouses to paper clips. My list of things to be thankful for hasn't changed much since last year. I'm still grateful for my loving husband; the support of my mom, my brother, in-laws, and countless friends; our dogs (two papillons and a Tibetan Spaniel); my laptop; my terrific critique group; Night Shadows Press, the small press that believed in me enough to reissue my iuniverse mystery; and readers--everyone who has read my book and liked it, and everyone who hasn't read my book, but reads the books of my friends and my favorite authors, thereby enabling the publishing industry to keep on rolling, warts and all.

There is nothing like hearing from a person who says, "I read your book and loved it." One of my favorites came from a woman who said she was so anxious to see what happened that she was sneaking in paragraphs at stop lights. Another said, "When I'm not reading this book, I'm thinking about the people in it and wondering what they're doing." It just doesn't get any better than that.

We need the encouragement, because, as most of us know, few writers can make a living with their writing. I read somewhere that the average income of writers falls just above that of migrant workers. Thank goodness for the likes of Stephen King, Dan Brown, and John Grisham, who pulled the average up! Otherwise, we'd be at the bottom of the heap. One writer, responding to Nathan's blog, said she'd calculated her hourly wages and come up with a figure of approximately seven cents. It's hard to retire to Maui on that.

Then one day you're working out at Curves, and the chatter among the exercisers turns to books. The woman at the next machine, a woman you've never met and who has no idea you're a writer, says, "You know what book I love? I just read it, and it's terrific." And she names your book. You carry that glow home with you. Years later, you can still pull it out of your pocket and bask in it.

So on this beautiful (albeit chilly) Thanksgiving Day, I'd like to take a moment to thank you, the readers. You're the ones who make this crazy business work.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2 comments:

Jean Henry Mead said...

Beautifully written, Beth! I'm thankful to have the ability to write although the only time I was able to support myself writing was as a news reporter. Writing has been a blessing and pulled me out of some pretty heavy slumps, so I can't complain about the low pay scale.

Beth Terrell said...

Thank you, Jean. I still have an insane optimism that one day I'll be able to earn a reasonable living writing and teaching workshops full time, but even if that doesn't happen, I'm still grateful that I can do it.