Once a writer writes, the next greatest challenge is finding good readers. Not getting published, mind you, that comes later. No, the next challenge is readers.
I realize that not all writers/authors are open to readers (and certainly not editors). I’ve known professors who never published their good material because they just couldn’t bring themselves to submit to editing. I’ve known writers who scream like their hand’s being chopped when someone suggests cutting a paragraph. In other words, the writer’s ego is tied up in his or her work.
The moral of the story is this: Writers/authors who can’t be edited are usually still “starving artists.” Rich and successful authors have long since learned to appreciate readers/editors.
Assuming, though, that writers are open to review and critique, readers (or editors) can make invaluable contributions toward honing the work.
Readers help writers gauge whether writers are accomplishing what they think they’re accomplishing. Some readers help with content ideas, some help with grammar, some help with “general reaction,” some with expertise in the subject matter can help with accuracy or illustrations, and some can help with marketing strategy.
Some readers simply but importantly help by saying, “I read this sentence five times and it still doesn’t make sense to me.” That’s good. If the reader can’t understand the sentence, the public won’t either. And you can fix a sentence’s structure and flow before it’s published.
Why is finding readers such a challenge? The answer is a list:
--People don’t read. Really, this is part of it.
--Those who read may not have the time. Fair enough.
--People commit to reading a column/article/book manuscript but don’t follow through. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve experienced this, and strangely, I rarely hear from my would-be readers. They seemed to have forgotten not only my work and request but also their pledge to assist.
--You can’t find readers with good writing, grammar, or proofing skills.
--You can’t find readers with enough background in the subject matter to make knowledgeable comments.
--Certain readers read eventually, at long last, maybe. In other words, they say they’ll read and respond by a certain deadline but don’t get it done until the cows jump over the moon. Meanwhile, you’ve long since given up or had to move on with the project.
There’s more, but you get the picture. This is why I hold willing, able, and reliable readers in high esteem. It’s also why, when from time to time I am asked to read, I try to respond as my best readers have responded to me.
Long live good readers.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012
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