Hello, hello! Oh, my, it’s good to be home—it seems we’ve been gone forEVER. So much to do, so much to talk about, so many things I want to try.
But first: I have to come to you, once again, and ask for reviews. Look over there on amazon.com. See the reviews? Five of them. Five! That’s all! I’m getting wonderful notes from y’all, and when I meet you Out in the World, you say wonderful things about the book, about how much you like it and how it’s opened your eyes or changed your life or just given you something to read at the breakfast table instead of the back of the cereal box. I love hearing those things. Really and truly. Thank you!
You, as readers, have a responsibility. If you like a book you read and hope that there will be more like it, you have to help make that happen, especially—ESPECIALLY—if it’s a book that doesn’t fit neatly into an already-established niche. I’ve written before about how editors and publishers pay attention to what people say and what they buy and what they review. If you want to see more step-by-step process/project books, then you need to go buy those and tell your friends about those and write reviews of those, reviews that tell everyone why you think those books are vital to the continued existence of the species. You know.
And if you’d like to see other kinds of books, books like Creative Time and Space and Living the Creative Life, books that are not process-and-project books, then guess what? Don’t think it was an easy sell getting Living the Creative Life out there to you. It was rejected by my previous publisher because it was different; it wasn’t a project book. And Project Books Sell. I know this is true because that’s what they told me. If I wanted to write project books, I could be cranking out another one right this minute.
But no. That’s not what I want to write. And I think that’s not the only kind of book y’all want to read. I really believe that people are hungry for other kinds of books on creativity, books that are a little different from the ones that are out there already. Books that might be a little scary for publishers to do, seeing as how, oh, they haven’t been done and have no proven track record.
I want to write those books. And I need your help. The way to see more books that are different is to support the ones that are out there. And I don’t mean “support” as “spend money on,” although that’s gotta happen, too—publishers have to make money on books, or you’re not going to be seeing any. No: what I mean here by “support” is to tell people you like these not-the-usual-how-to books, that you want more out-of-the-standard-format books, that you really think these are marvelous and are filling a need that has been eating at the moral fabric of the country and causing the ruination of our youth.
More or less.
I have tons of ideas for more books I want to write. I have files on the computer for books I’ve started, at least in my head. I do not, however, have a contract for The Next Book. Why is that? Because the publishers like to wait and see how one book does before they give you the go-ahead on the next one.
And that’s where you come in: I need you to write reviews. Not just of my book (although that’s where I want you to start. Duh) but of any other books that you love. Danny Gregory's books. Jennifer New’s books. Lots of other books, and I’m not even going to TRY to mention them all, lest I leave out ones I love.
You’re the reader: you’re the one who’s important. It’s not the writers who make these decisions. Hell, I keep telling y’all about the part in Sex and The City where Carrie goes to Hollywood and is at a studio riding on the little cart and someone asks who she is, is she someone famous, and someone else says, “Nah, she’s just the writer.” Remember that? That’s EXACTLY true. The Writer is nobody. The writer is exactly like the chef working in the kitchen making food. The chef can stand back there over the stove all day long, but if people don’t come in and order the meals, nothing the chef does with spices and spatulas will matter. And if someone doesn’t come in and love the food and write a good review, well: you might as well just order another case of chunky peanut butter and crack open a jar of Welch’s.
You’re in charge of the books you read. If you want publishers to try new stuff, give you things that are maybe not the same kind of how-to craft book (you know, like the first two I did), then you’ve got to let them know. Think they don’t pay any attention to the reviews? Please. How else are they going to know what you think? You tell them. You tell them you like these books, and you want to see more like them. Or at least more that are not like the ones you bought three years ago. You tell people why you like them, so other people will buy them and then tell more people. That’s how it works. Readers are the ones who make it happen.
I believe there’s room for how-to books and memoirs and graphic novels and romances (well, a little bit of space for those, anyway) and all kinds of other books, including some “craft” books that aren’t quite what Craft Books (because of course that’s where my books are shelved: Craft Books) have been in the past. The possibilities are exciting, but it won’t happen without your support.
I know it’s a pain in the butt to do a review, and I’m sorry it takes time and makes you grouchy. But it’s important—it really is. It’s your way to provide feedback not just to other readers and the person who’s Only the Writer, but also to all the publishers and editors and people who are making the decisions about what’s going to be published next year and the year after. If you want to see new and exciting things being done, then you’ve got to support the books that aren’t the everyday-ordinary how-to books that have always been comfortable for everyone.
I want to write more books, different books, books that I think will be fabulous. But it’s not up to me. It’s up to you.