Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Books They Don't Read

Yesterday, as I was leaving The Hunger Games, I heard a discussion between a husband and wife. She asked if he had read the second book of the trilogy yet. His reply was: "Not yet, I just don't have time to read a book." I would have passed that off, except I had a similar discussion with someone else, a self-proclaimed "reader" who usually finished between fifteen and twenty books a year.

"I don't read as much as I'd like. I have way too many books collecting dust on my shelves."

As an author, I always think about the competition I face getting accepted by a publisher, but I sometimes forget the importance of the competition from that point on. And I never thought about the additional competitive issue--getting read once someone had something I wrote in hand.

Stop and think about it. If you're an author, or a reader, think about all the books you own which you've never read. Think about all the books you've bought with the thought "I'll get to it."

Why is this important? Because if someone reads one thing you've written, it's more likely they'll read another. It's important because, for me any way, I want someone to enjoy what I've produced. I want them to get their money's worth. Right now, I'm getting ready to release The Ravening on e-book and I'm doing an extensive revision to the original, not only making sure the writing is crisp, but actually changing some of the scenes. And as I work, doing my best for the reader, I ask, "Does it really matter? Why not leave the original alone?" Since so many people browse the books on their shelves and e-readers when looking for their next read, the answer has to be, "Yes, it matters." 

So, for all you writers out there, the next time you go to a friend's house and catch a glimpse of the books lining their shelves (if they have any), ask them which ones they haven't read. If they're honest, repress your shudder and think about it the next time you get to work.

Just something else to fuel your neurosis. You're welcome. 


Charles Gramlich said...

I already spend too much time thinking about that.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for helping me keep my neuroses burning bright.

Joe Ponepinto said...

Hadn't thought about it that way. You go to someone's house and see their books (if any), and automatically think they've read them all. That's when I usually start to feel guilty about the books at home that I intended to read but never even opened. One of life's dirty little secrets I suppose. Maybe we have to start putting something more compelling inside, like a special code word that's good for a cup of coffee at Caribou, but the only way to find it is to go through the entire text.

Aric said...

Story goes, Umberto Eco has a whole library of thousands of books he hasn't read, just in case he might need their secret knowledge someday. But he's a special case. I don't think the rest of us are learned enough to use that excuse...

Charles Gramlich said...

Hey, just letting you know, a free story of mine is up on Amazon Kindle for a few days. "Harvest of War."

here if you care to check it out.