The fun of watching live readers

chinchilla sitting on a hand

Gizzy – silent reader?

A LIVE READER IS A SPECIAL PLEASURE TO A WRITER

I am very, very honored lately by a phenomenon I had noticed, but not paid particular attention to, until I finished writing Book 1 of Pride’s Children: watching someone get hooked on my writing.

It starts on here or on Wattpad. I notice my stats go up – I’m getting more views than normal, and the list of posts visited on my blog takes on a pattern.

Here on the blog, I notice the sequence of chapters and scenes, one right after another.

On Wattpad (where I had been posting a scene twice a week), because of time constraints (it takes time to format and post a scene), I have a notice after Chapter 14, Scene 7:

If you like Pride’s Children, the whole story is up on my blog – link. Please tell me if it is inconvenient for you as a reader to switch to my blog, and I’ll reconsider posting the remainder here on Wattpad.

The special position of serials and live writing

So a reader knows I haven’t abandoned the story.

Every reader of a live serial knows that there is always a possibility the author won’t finish.

That gut feeling is balanced by knowing the work is available as soon as possible. It’s a trade-off. Many people, burned once too many times, refuse to read until the serial is finished. I don’t blame them – I’ve started reading several, only to find the author has other things to do, for whatever reason, and stopped, for now or for good, before I could finish reading.

Live writing (okay, I thought I had enough of a buffer. Hehe) was MY choice.

Readers owe writers nothing; writers owe readers…?

Until a book is published and available for sale, writers owe readers nothing. George RR Martin doesn’t ‘owe’ his readers the rest of his saga, even though they (Geek and Sundry on Youtube, Write, George, write like the wind) seem to think so, and are especially persuasive.

Writers have no more control over the real world than anyone else.

Even popular writers may find a publisher 1) having the rights to the rest of the books in a series, and 2) refusing to execute those rights. Ouch!

If you know only half the readers you need to survive will buy the next book, you may end up abandoning those readers.

What does the reader owe the writer?

Absolutely nothing.

There is, especially right now and for this book, no ‘contract with the reader’ made by anyone who chooses to read a few words of the story.

None.

I, the writer, hoped to heck I’d get to this point, promised MYSELF I’d get to this point, have promised MYSELF I’ll get to Book 3 and write The End.

But readers have not made ANY promises to ME, implied or explicit. Nor should they.

Context: finishing Book 1 of Pride’s Children

But, until I had actually finished (even if there are two more books planned, plotted, outlined to the last detail, and in rough draft form), I might have been on that same list of author interruptus. For all I knew, as I slogged along for all those years, I might be incapable of finishing.

Or force majeur might have kept me from finishing. Things HAPPEN.

The pleasure of the through reader staring on the blog

But now that I AM done, I get to enjoy my readers more.

It warms the cockles of my heart.

The pattern starts showing: I may not catch the beginning, or a reader may have been here all along, reading weekly, but now the Scene pages get viewed in succession over a day or two, until I get another hit on Chapter 20, Scene 6 (End of Book 1).

Whew. Another one made it safely to To Be Continued.

The pleasure of the Wattpad reader

I notice a different pattern: if it is a Wattpadder, Chapter 14, Scene 8 shows up on my list of views, and I know ONE more reader there has made the leap, clicked on my link, and done the hard part: moving to a new venue.

Since Wattpadders read on mobiles, this requires effort. It also usually means they read the first almost-14 chapters on Wattpad – which is a kick all by itself: I am not a undemanding writer.

The through reader is better than chocolate

These readers tend not to skip or skim. If they read at all, they get immersed (several have been wonderful enough to let me know).

It is an honor to be taken seriously like that.

I DON’T NEED ANY REACTION TO BE HAPPY: seeing the pattern complete makes me squee.

The reader who makes it through silently, like my chinchilla Gizzy (if she read), is welcome.

One in ten or so takes the additional step of letting me know what their reaction is, and those comments and emails are balm to the twitchy writer’s soul while doing all these OTHER tasks necessary to make a book salable.

My request of the through reader is different

EVERY response that comes, even simply reading to the end, is welcome. Readers owe me nothing. I repeat: nothing. I grew up in the time when you didn’t even realize the writer might still be alive!

Additional possible reactions: Like. (Or vote on Wattpad.) Eventually, consider buying (though they’ve already read the story, so at this point I don’t anticipate that). If Book 1 is for sale, a review on Amazon will be welcome (I promise I’ll put a link out when that’s true, and I’m trying my darndest to make it happen asap).

But MY preferred form of response, whatever else you do, Gentle Through Reader, is that you take a moment, think very hard, and see if there is ONE person you would recommend Pride’s Children, Book 1, to (dangling preposition and all) – and get them started on Chapter 1.

If you’ve done that – and that explains why I’m getting more through readers – my humble thanks to you.

And if you read the whole thing, your vote on the prologue – keep, rewrite, delete – is welcome any time, too.

Plus, of course, we’re always open for comments.

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13 thoughts on “The fun of watching live readers

  1. donnainthesouth

    I agree with Lily – unless you’re just hoping to surprise with the next part – otherwise, to me, without the prologue, as it ends now – it somewhat turns into one of those post-modern books that just didn’t really go anywhere, after all that reading – at least, to me, rather disappointing, though I understand that’s supposedly the new way of writing – just didn’t think you were like that

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      What a perfect comment, Donna!

      No, you are correct. I am NOT like that. If I leave readers hanging, it is only because I needed to get my characters to this point – and couldn’t do it in one word less.

      It takes time to build relationships. And, when people have baggage, it takes even longer. Before your realize how difficult it is to get to the points you’re waiting for from the prologue, you have to know why the characters think so.

      Ack! Post-modern is exactly why I almost didn’t put this much up: it isn’t finished to the story’s final end. This part is complete, but not the story.

      I hope to give you a lot more reading to do.

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    2. Lily White LeFevre

      You sum up exactly why i think the prologue should stay!!! Its removal would definitely veer the whole from story book to “self-exploration” book. Not that it couldn’t be haunting and beautiful as such…but, a reader would wonder, why would there be sequels? There would not be the same desire to read more because you know the story is barely started!

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      1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

        It stays. Because that’s exactly what it’s for: if I couldn’t finish it all to publish it as one megabook, I need you to know it is going somewhere. I wrote it exactly that way: when I knew there would be three pieces before the story was complete.

        Thanks for your words and your sticking with it. Funny how a few words can make such a difference, isn’t it? But then, that’s all we have.

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  2. Janna G. Noelle

    I actually think that writers do owe their readers. I think after doing all the work of attracting readers and getting them hooked and keeping them waiting with baited breath through whatever means the writer chooses to employ, the writer does owe it to the reader to finish (I think I come to this opinion by way of fandom, where the worst thing a writer can do is leave a fic incomplete.)

    I’m not saying one must write as right-this-second fast as some impatient readers might want since yes, life does happen. But within a reasonable amount of time, yes; to me, it’s a social contract that needs to be fulfilled. It also bears remembering the impatient fans are often the truest of fans who would praise your work to the rafters and tell all their friends to read it and help ensure your writing legacy forever it if only they knew what happened to their favourite characters in the end.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      SOCIAL contract, yes. I could also die even if I had an actual contract. (Not planning on it, but you know what they say about plans.)

      Here we indies have an advantage: we can promise ourselves we will continue – and keep that promise, regardless of sales. Also, sales may do better once the whole thing is finished in Book 3 – where a traditional publisher might have canceled the whole thing because Books 1 and 2 didn’t sell as well as expected, AND prevent the writer from using those character to do it on her own, which is the worst possible outcome for the readers. The publisher doesn’t care what the writer owes her readers.

      I can remove that last possibility from happening.

      The thing is, I WANT this whole story finished. For ME. I’m committed. The cost: my time and effort. But I don’t have to worry about advances, and paying back stuff that doesn’t earn out, and any of those contract terms that give lawyers headaches.

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  3. Lily White LeFevre

    Saving my rec’s for when they can buy the book. Zon minimizes frictionbin so many ways.

    If by prologue you mean the bitvtht says where this is going (A&K married), keep. Do not even consider dropping it. A slow burn story needs some tantalizing hint of where it’s going. 🙂

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Yes, Ma’am – I bow to your superior wisdom in this area.

      I like that Prologue – but it serves as a better prologue for the whole trilogy.

      HOWEVER, you’re right – I WANT people to read the whole trilogy, and to be waiting for ‘the rest of the story’ – and that’s not even ALL the story.

      Your advice is most gratefully accepted.

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  4. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

    Want a chinchilla? She is totally spoiled, an exotic animal not a pet, has her own whole bedroom, has learned to do a few tricks for treats, and really only thinks of us as a source of food…

    Except that lately she’s been coming out a tiny bit more just to play in the darkened living room, if we’re very quiet and don’t make any sudden moves, and the refrigerator/dishwasher/AC/outside/anything else in the world doesn’t make a sudden sound.

    It’s kind of cute. Chinchillas greet each other by VERY gently touching each others’ noses with their incredibly sharp teeth – without hurting. She has done that to us.

    She MAY have read parts of PC on the backs of scratch paper sheets I accidentally left lying around. She doesn’t comment much.

    I repeat: they are not good pets. WE love her, she tolerates us. A bit.

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