There’s No Such Thing as “Just a Reader”

by Julie, hoping to turn the heat back off in Somerville. What happened to spring?

In the past month I’ve attended several different reader focused events. The Kensington Cozy Club Convention at the Cambridge Library warmed me up. Then Sherry, Barb and I went to Milwaukee for the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend. The next weekend we all went to Bethesda, MD for Malice Domestic. All three of these events were great opportunities to see writer friends, and to meet readers.

Something happened consistently, so I wanted to talk about it here on the blog. More than once during a conversation the topic would move to what brought a person to an event. I’d ask if they were a writer, and the reply would come back, “oh no, I’m just a reader.”

Dear friends, there is no such thing as “just” a reader.

Without readers, writers could write, but for whom?

Your support makes everything possible. Support comes in all forms–pre-ordering a book, requesting it from a library, posting a review, recommending it to a friend, coming to a reading or event. Commenting on a blog. “Talking” to us on social media.

Some of you take this to the next level. You write a blog that reviews books. You volunteer to help organize conferences and events. You join street teams to support authors.

But the most important thing you do is read. You read a lot.

My friend Jason Allen-Forrest is the first reader of every one of my manuscripts. When I started out, I asked him to read and let me know if I had a book. Now he is my trusted beta-reader. He gives me feedback, asks questions, and responds to the concerns I have about the book. Then when the book is published, he reads it again and helps me celebrate. I’m deep in the edits of my Garden Squad #3, and he is waiting to read it. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to that particular reader. He helps me write better books.

He is also a voracious reader. He’s who I write for, who we all write for.

I’m grateful to all of you for being readers. Thank you for giving my work your time. I realize time is a precious commodity, and I don’t take your investment likely.

And get rid of the “just”. Next time we meet, tell me you’re a reader, so I can thank you.

26 Thoughts

  1. Oh, Julie, this is so true! We had the same conversation at my table at the Agatha banquet. Exact. Same. Words. We need t-shirts that say “We <3 Readers"

  2. Amen, Julie. I tell everybody who says to me, “I’m just a reader” that there is no “just” about it. They are as important to this whole deal as the rest of us because as you say, if there were no readers, who would we write for?

  3. Absolutely, Julie! I was having a conversation with a lovely woman at Malice Domestic and she referred to herself as “Just a Reader.” I responded by asking her to never refer to herself that way again. We do this for readers. And I am so thankful for everyone on this planet who is a reader.

    1. I had the conversation several times at Malice. We do do this for readers, and I loved meeting so many of them in Bethesda.

  4. I’m a reader and I am so grateful for good writers. Thank you, Julie and all the Wickeds and all other writers for being a big part of my life.

  5. Thank you for those words. Reading is such a pleasure and has always been a huge part of my life. Where would we be without the hard word and good results of our writers?

    1. I’m a reader as well, and will be forever grateful to the writers who transported me no matter what I was going through in my life. There’s nothing like a good book, is there? Thank you for being a reader!

  6. My name is Mark, and I am just a reader. There is a reason I use that phrase at events. Every single person at those events is a reader. All authors started writing because they love to read. Therefore, to distinguish myself from those who are readers AND writers, I say I am just a reader.

    I’m not trying to put myself down by saying that. I’m just saying I don’t have any books there.

    Not to take away from the wonderful piece you wrote. I understand and fully appreciate everything you are saying.

    So is there a better way for us to answer the question “Are you a writer?” Because that is usually what leads me to answer with the “just a reader” phrase.

    1. I would take out the just. And for you, you could also add book reviewer. I hear what you’re saying, and it depends on the context for sure.

      1. But again, you are a reader as well as a writer. So I’m not really answering the question of whether I’m a writer or not.

        Anyway, this is my take on why readers describe themselves as “Just a reader” at events like you are talking about. To differentiate from the readers AND writers who are there. We certainly know you appreciate us just as much as we appreciate you.

  7. I love to read and am so grateful to all of the hardworking writers out there that help me escape a bad day or just make a good day more fun!!! Wish I had more time to read a lot more! Thank you for your kind words!

  8. I am grateful to you who write. Thank you for reminding us not to diminish how we show up in the world!

  9. I love this, Julie. All writers are readers too and I don’t think we ever use the word “just.” I hope readers know how much we appreciate them!

  10. Ha, even though I pushed this out early this morning, I see I didn’t comment! Of course all writers are also readers, too. Thank you to the non-writer readers – you are the main reason we do what we do.

  11. I am an honest reader and give reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I just read Just Killing Time and really enjoyed it because it is about a small community trying to stay a small community which is really hard to do. It is great that this is about clocks. A lot of people now do not wear watches and go by their ipads or phones, etc. to figure out what time it is. I still wear a Timex piece and have had it for years. I am borrowing the rest of the books in this series from the library and also getting the new book called Pruning the Dead from the library.

Comments are closed.