It's All About the Reader
ONCE UPON A TIME there was a mystery novel, a mystery novel that only one agent and zero editors believed in. This mystery novel was read by editors at top publishing houses including Dutton, Harper, St. Martin’s Press, Harcourt, Tor and Poisoned Pen. It was even read by a major movie studio. Yet none of them were willing to take a risk on the novel.
“The mystery market is too crowded,” they said. “We don’t see how it can stand out.”
Never, though, did they say it wasn’t good enough, that it wasn’t well-written.
So, for many reasons, A Real Piece of Work never found a home among mainstream publishers. Which is why, about a month ago, I finally self-published it as a Kindle ebook.
Since then, between Amazon US and Amazon UK the novel has netted 21 reviews—19 of them 5-star raves. Readers write how they lost sleep over A Real Piece of Work. The most recent reviewer writes, “Read this book when you have a day to spare. You won’t be able to put it down.”
Had I not published it on Kindle myself, the novel would have lain dormant on my hard drive or a slush pile somewhere, and I would have always wondered what readers thought of the book. It turns out they think a lot of it. They love it—some so much as to beg me to release the second one in the series tomorrow.
I’m tremendously grateful to readers who have posted reviews or told their friends about the book, but the most important thing they’ve done for me is to remind me that it’s all about them. It’s all about the readers, not the agents and editors.
All readers care about is whether a book is a good read, a well-written story. But because my pursuit was agent- and editor-centric for so long, I forgot whose opinion I really cared about—the reader’s.
I read this somewhere—I can’t remember where—and I realize it’s more true now than ever: “The reader’s opinion is the only one that counts.” I’ve always written with the reader in mind, but now I’m going to write that truism on a 3″x5″ notecard and post it above my writing desk.
The readers have spoken, and I have listened. It’s all about the reader.