30 Days of Christmas Day 15: All Those Other People
At first, writers write in a vacuum. We go to whatever place works for us and we write--for hours, days, weeks, and months. If we’re lucky, we produce a book.
That’s the last time we’re alone with it.
If you like a book, here’s who to thank--in addition to the author.
The Beta Readers: Authors write from inside their heads, but beta readers help us see what needs more explanation or less. They find those crazy little factual errors that ruin a book. Their feedback turns one person’s story into something many can enjoy.
The Editors: A finished story needs content editing, copy editing, and line editing. In every case but one (long ago), I’ve been lucky to work with good ones. Sometimes it’s difficult. At first I skim the comments out of the side of one eye. Then I walk away for a while. Phrases like “How dare she?” come to mind, but after a day or two, I go to work to fix the manuscript.
The Cover Artist: Covers are supposed to attract a reader’s eye and give him a sense of the book’s genre, characters, and theme. If I made my own covers, you’d think a kindergartner was involved. So if the cover caught your eye, it’s the talent of some artist I’ve never met, someone who reads my words and turns them into visual art.
The Formatter: Formatting is the way the words look on the page: spacing, margins, chapter headings, etc. A skilled formatter keeps readers from noticing formatting, because if you notice, there’s probably something wrong.
The Publisher: Sometimes it's the author, but other times there is someone who believes in a book's worth and facilitates its publication and promotion. Yay for them!
The Book Reviewer: Readers want to know someone liked a book besides the author’s mother, and that’s where book reviewers come in. Reviewers are knowledgeable about books of a certain genre. They compare an author’s new book to others and give readers a hint about whether this is a book they might like. A trusted reviewer can interest many readers in giving it a try, and the author doesn’t have to scream, “Buy my book, it’s great!”
The Book Blogger: Book bloggers sometimes review books, but other times they simply provide a place for authors’ works to be showcased. Some let the author do as she likes for a day, some ask interview questions, and some do almost everything, from hunting down cover art to seeking out an author's links to various social media sites.
The Book Promoter: As it becomes harder to keep up with promotion, authors have begun turning to book promoters. Some charge a fee, and some work for the love of reading. Either way, they’re invaluable for helping authors reach readers. I’m continually amazed by the methods these people devise to tell others about new books: bubbles, prizes, giveaways, and a hundred other ways they catch the eye in today’s three-second, fast-changing world.
All these people are wonderful, marvelous, and amazing, but there’s one remaining category, perhaps the most crucial of all--
The number one reason people choose a book is because a friend recommended it. If you read a book and like it, tell your friends. Talk about it (no spoilers, please!) Loan it out (with your name written inside if you want it back.) Spreading the word is the best thing you can do for a writer, and it makes the work that all the people listed above worthwhile!