My name didn’t shoot up on the Amazon “Movers & Shakers” list when my eighth novel released, I haven’t been interviewed by NPR or CNN, and I wish that new top I bought was more slimming.
But I’m smiling.
The professional book world is full of frowns about the future of publishing, but perhaps it has taken its eye off that most wonderful of gifts: readers.
As a novelist and book columnist for the local newspaper, I experience every day a zest for books from readers of varied ages and professions and geography, ordinary folks who appreciate books, who yearn for good stories, who are generous with their time and money and encouragement. Who love to talk about books. Who feel passionately about what they like–and don’t like–to read.
With the launch of “Magnolia Market,” I was reminded again that writing novels is all about you, the reader. Partaker of stories. Dissector of plots. Appreciator of words. Encourager of sometimes-anxious authors who wonder if anyone will read their new books.
Many readers celebrated the new novel with me in person (see photos for a taste of launch-party fun) and online. You give me numerous reasons to smile, and this list comes with a confession:
I love people who love books.
10 Things That Make Me Smile
1. Visiting. Being a writer, a seemingly solitary profession, brings me together with smart, funny, generous people. In a world torn apart over many issues, books unite us. People from all phases of my life pop up—from childhood friends to people I’ve only recently met.
2. Book-club cheerleaders. Several clubs were represented at the launch of “Magnolia Market,” including members of the East Texas chapter of Pulpwood Queens, who drove 50 miles for the party. Each of these clubs is filled with readers who have calmed my nerves on this writing journey.
3. Librarians. It’s a special honor when people who have worked around shelves of books all day take time to come by and celebrate or to recommend my books to patrons (a fancy word for “readers).
4. The realization that the joy of reading crosses all ages—from 3-year-old great-nephew Truett to Miss Mamie, well into her nineties and excited to win the “I Books” mug door prize.
5. Early morning emails on release day from around the country saying pre-ordered e-copies arrived. Everyone’s busy as the day begins, right? And yet readers take time to say, “It’s here!” A small gesture that packs a lot of emotion.
6. The blogger who wanted me to know that her 5-star review posted on Amazon the day the book came out. Reviews shouldn’t matter, but they do. The number of Amazon and Goodreads reviews help authors. Thank you for taking time to post a paragraph.
7.Early feedback from readers who stayed up late to finish the book the day they got it–and emailed to ask about the next book in the Trumpet and Vine series. Big smile. (And will Kathleen and Avery’s father get together? Stay tuned.)
8. Presents. Yes, presents. Here I am, asking readers to give up time and money, and they bring gifts—from homemade
fudge to a smiley-face balloon and cute notepad to a “Yay! Books!” magnet. Amazing.
9. Bookstores that offer a place for readers to gather and celebrate, with a special smile for the Shreveport, Louisiana, Barnes & Noble, a friend to authors and the community.
10. The folks out there promoting reading and literacy. Volunteers from Common Ground, a nonprofit that helps improve literacy in a poor urban neighborhood, gave hours of their time to tell readers about their efforts at my launch party. In turn, readers donated educational items and B&N offered a percentage of sales for this cause.
Worried about the future of books? Not me! Readers will see us through—and for that, I smile and say thanks.
What do you think about the future of books? Leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of “Magnolia Market” and my favorite small “Read” notebook from a bookstore in Denver. I’ll draw at noon CST on Oct. 1.