Monday, March 8, 2010

Strangers (Reading) on a Train

PopTarts A thought hit me the other day, as I was balancing all the promoting and writing and blogging and tweeting activities that have completely taken over my waking hours.

Soon, strangers will be reading my book. Strangers who have paid their hard earned money to buy it and devoted their precious time to read it.

Strangers, as in people I don't know at all. (I'm not including those in the world of publishing--it's their job to read manuscripts. I'm talking about "regular" strangers.)

Of course, on some level, that's been my goal since I started writing. To get published and develop a readership beyond my family and small circle of friends. But I guess I never realized how weird that would feel. My words, my ideas, my stories being read--and judged, on some level--by people I don't know and won't ever meet. They won't have any history with me to color their opinions. No filtering lens of my personality to gaze through.

These strangers won't know, for instance, that I exercise and try to eat right when they read about my characters scarfing Pop-Tarts for breakfast. They won't know how honest I am when they read about my deceitful characters and their underhanded exploits.

All they will know about me is what they infer from my writing. I'll be judged solely on the words before them. Weird.

The next logical question is: what will these strangers think?

On one hand, I could say that I write my stories for me. But, being honest (and pragmatic), I'd also have to say I write for my readers-to-be. I want them to be entertained. I want them to be moved by my words.

I want readers to enjoy my writing.

(Side note: I've already gotten a little feedback. I've been fortunate that DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD has received a couple reviews, from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. And I guess I've been doubly fortunate that both reviews have been complimentary.)

In a few weeks, I'll start to get more feedback from strangers.

I sure hope they like my book.




Lisa Bork said...

Alan, it only feels weird at first. And I think when the story is really great, as I'm sure yours will be, the reader never thinks about the author at all--except to look for his next book :)

G.M. Malliet said...

Congratulations on the positive reviews, Alan. I can't wait to read your books.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Congratulations on the good reviews, Alan!

At least *you'll* know better if people rail at your pro-junk food agenda! I never correct the readers, but I LOVE feeling smug. :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Beth Groundwater said...

Yes, Alan, readers infer all kinds of things about you from your books. I've had readers assume that I own a gift basket design business, that I used to buy drugs in the past, and that my husband is a workaholic and ignores me. All of these things are totally untrue about me, but are mentioned in my books.

Congratulations on the wonderful reviews!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Alan, if you think the *idea* of strangers reading your books is odd, wait until you *see* someone reading one of your books in a public place - like on an airplane. I thought I was hallucinating!

And Beth is correct. Readers do infer a lot from the books. No, I’m not married to (or have dated) a man in a wheelchair. I’m not overly fond of Thin Mint cookies. My boss is neither arrogant nor rude. And my mother didn’t abandon me at the age of 16, or any other age.

CONGRATS on the great reviews!

Alan Orloff said...

Thanks, Lisa! Yeah, I guess I'll get used to it. And I could live with readers not thinking about me. It's the book that's the thing, right? ...Right?

Thanks, Gin! It's so subjective that you never know what kind of review you'll get.

Thanks, Elizabeth! Actually, I think I might start eating Pop-Tarts!

Thanks, Beth! I'm beginning to think that if readers are going to start thinking that I do "bad" things because I write about characters doing bad things, then maybe I should start doing some bad things. You know, bad "fun" things.

Thanks, Sue Ann! I think I'll plotz if I ever see someone reading my book in public. That'll sure give somebody something to infer!

G.M. Malliet said...

I have thought of hanging out at Dulles all day-week-year on the off chance of spotting someone reading one of my books. To have seen it on the shelves at the airport bookstore was pretty thrilling, let me tell you.

Darrell James said...

I think the only place that would wierd me out is to see them reading it in a public restroom. (I never did get the whole bathroom/reading experience.)

Congrats on the great reviews, Alan.

Cricket McRae said...

Lol, Darrell. Alan, of course they'll like it. And congrats on your great reviews!