It’s Not the Sales - It’s the Readers That Count

In our local Mid-Michigan Chapter of Romance Writers of America, we have a little monthly contest called WRITE FOR THE MONEY. We each put $1.00 in an envelope with a little note saying what our writing goal is for the next month. Then at the next meeting those who achieve their goal are put into a drawing for however much money is in the envelope. Thus – “write for the money.”

That term makes me wonder how many people might think authors write “for the money.” Yes, big sales and big money are nice, but a great majority of us will never get rich on what we make from our books. Some authors make barely enough to eat each week, if that. And you know what? For a true writer, that doesn’t matter. I can’t count the number of authors I know who simply write because telling the story is so important to them. Few of them care whether or not they’re making great money. Most of them are simply “born to write,” and they would be writing even if they didn’t make a dime from their books. I fall into that category.

Yes, we’d all love to create a million seller that becomes a famous movie or TV series, but in reality, out of hundreds of thousands of writers, perhaps five or ten make it that big. It’s a reality we have to face, but it doesn’t stop us. As long as our hearts beat, we will write, because characters come alive for us and demand that we tell their story.

When I started writing, I was a fanatic. I am surprised my husband and two sons didn’t leave me. I was obsessed. I wrote nine books before I finally sold one – and that’s all I wanted – a sale. It didn’t matter how much I was paid. I just wanted to actually sell a book and see it in print and on book shelves. I was paid barely enough to feed my family for maybe one month, but that didn’t matter. I sold a book!!

My next goal was never to stop with just one book. That first sale was my first SAVAGE DESTINY book, which turned into a 7-book series. Now, almost thirty-five years later, I’m up to 63 books with another one finished but not sold yet.

I’ve had good sales and bad. I’ve had huge advance money and some ridiculously small. It never mattered. People were buying and liking my stories, and that was my number one reason for writing. It was never about the money and never will be because the cold reality is that the truly big money will always go to those top few writers who, for one reason or another, “make it big.” Sometimes I read their books and wonder why, but so be it.

I am always far more thrilled to know thousands of readers out there are loving my stories. My books might sell for $15 here, $7 there, .99 cents on Amazon – whatever. Because of the numerous venues there are for selling books, sales are kind of “all over the place,” as is the money. All that matters to me is that PEOPLE ARE READING MY BOOKS AND LIKING THEM! That is so much more important to me.

I am eternally grateful for all my readers. They keep me going. With each new book I worry about whether or not I will again please them – or will I disappoint them this time? They mean everything to me – and many of them have actually become good friends. The support I get on Facebook whenever I reach out for prayer or support, for whatever reason, is overwhelming.

I want to be more than just “the author who wrote the book.” I love being real friends with my readers. I love hearing how my book helped them forget their pain or a crisis they might be going through. I’ve even written through personal family problems and illnesses of my own, and it was the writing that soothed me. Maybe one of my books relieved someone’s loneliness. Maybe it enlightened them to America’s real history – things they never learned in school (which is always one of my goals). Maybe my characters seem so “alive” to them that they “feel” the hero or heroine with them and can’t wait to see what happens to my characters next.

Fan enthusiasm and response is what I feed on. Reader support, reader excitement, readers who love my characters as much as I do. I love them for that, love their feedback, and I actually miss many of the readers whom I have met at various conferences. My readers have become my anchor, my inspiration, and the reason I keep sitting down in front of the computer in spite of physical pain from too many years and thousands of hours of sitting on my butt!

I often run across fans who, I swear, are more enthusiastic about my stories than even I am! What I find most fun and interesting is the detail in which many of my fans remember a story, especially from a book I wrote twenty to thirty years ago! After that long, and having written numerous books since then, I often don’t remember the details about some of my older plots or even the characters’ names – but my READERS DO! They will mention something that happened in a certain book and I have to scramble to remember. Some of my fans have read some of my older titles over and over again, so they know every detail. That truly warms my heart. So this is a big THANK YOU to all my readers! Keep reading, and I will keep writing!


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