The biggest gift readers can give writers.

The biggest gift readers can give writers.

Please join me in welcoming Andi Cumbo-Floyd to the blog.

One copy of The Santa Monica Review sat on my parents’ coffee table for years. My folks are not literary magazine readers nor are they from Southern California. So the magazine was a bit out of place amongst the Southern Livings and Readers Digests in their living room.

Really, the only reason it sat there was because I had an essay in its pages. And my parents were proud of me. I like to imagine them watching as someone thumbed through the pages and saw my name. I know they smiled each time  This gentle act was their quiet, humble way of bragging.

Their pride warmed the very center of my heart.

I feel much the same way when anyone tells me they’ve read my book, when they write a review on Goodreads, when they share something from my blog on their social media pages. There’s something soul-filling about people taking the time to read my work and share it with other people.

This just isn’t about selling more copies. It’s about a commodity much more valuable than money: support.

When someone tells me they read something I wrote, I don’t wonder if they bought it, if I gave them a free copy when it was published, if they borrowed it from the library or a friend.  I just revel in the fact that someone cared enough to read something I wrote. That gift is profound and rich.

In our marketing-saturated, money-oriented culture, readers can often be swayed to think that the best way to support a writer is to buy her books. Purchasing books is certainly one important method for giving a writer the boost she needs for her career. But simply reading a book makes a world of difference to the spirit of a writer who needs – fundamentally – to be reminded that her work is worth doing.

Writers – like all artists – spend a great deal of time talking ourselves into writing, battling the voices that say what we do doesn’t matter, or that it’s selfish. When someone tells us that our writing was worth their time, it’s as if a giant sword of support has hushed those voices that whisper about our ineptitude.

Whether we borrow a book from a friend, take one out from the library, pick a copy up through an online bookswap, receive a free PDF during a giveway, the fact that we cared enough to get our hands on the words of a writer – that’s what really important, not how much we spend to get the book.

So next time you grab a book from the library shelf or snag a copy from a Goodreads giveaway, know that we – the writers of the world – appreciate your time and your energy. If you write us a note or throw up a review, we’re really grateful, too. But mostly, we’re just thankful that you cared enough to give your mind and your heart to our words. That, that right there is the biggest gift of all.

Surprised to hear this? I was. I’d love to hear how YOU choose to support writers and their work in comments. 

Andi Cumbo-Floyd is a writer, editor, and writing coach who lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her amazing husband, their 4 dogs, 5 cats, 6 goats, and 11 chickens. You can find out more about her book The Slaves Have Names at her blog – andilit.com.

43 comments | Comment

43 comments

  1. Lindsay says:

    I absolutely love the image of words of support as a sword to silence our own feelings of ineptitude or criticism of others. As a new blogger, I struggle with those voices in my head a lot. But when people tell me they’ve been encouraged by my writing, it definitely makes the volume on the voices go down :).
    Reviews and recommending books to others are ways I try to support other writers. In the blogosphere, I try to be active in the comments. I love the community blogging creates. Saving this post for the next time those voices get loud. Thank you!

    • Andi says:

      Lindsay, goodness, I know those voices. They speak the worst things, but yes, those words of encouragement. . . sometimes I’m tempted to write them on notecards and hang them over my desk.

      On behalf of all writers of the world ( 🙂 ) I thank you for your reviews and recommendations. 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to read my words.

  2. Anne says:

    Lindsay already quoted my favorite paragraph of your essay! Thanks for sharing, Andi! I’ll be sure to check out your site. 🙂

    • Andi says:

      Thanks so much, Anne. I’m so glad the sword is swinging for your benefit, too. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by, Andilit. I’m honored.

  3. Becca says:

    Andi, thank you for expressing so eloquently what I’ve been feeling since my book was published. I am so grateful for all the support (perfect word!) I’ve been given by people who read it. It’s a priceless gift!

    • Andi says:

      Isn’t it, Becca? So priceless. I love seeing the photos of your book in various places around the world. That warms my heart vicariously for you.

  4. Danae says:

    This reminded me of writing thank you notes. I admit I’m not well-practiced in verbalizing gratitude and appreciation, but it sure makes a world of difference when someone does it for me. Sometimes I assume an author won’t notice my little review or that my words won’t matter since I’m not a literary critic or peer. But just like gratitude, support isn’t something to undervalue. Thanks for this. (And timely, since I just won a Goodreads giveaway!)

    • Andi says:

      Congrats on the Goodreads giveaway, Danae. And while some writers don’t read reviews – mostly because the less than stellar ones can be really painful – many of us do, and we treasure each and every kind word. I especially love when someone takes a photo of my book out in the world and then posts it on Facebook or Twitter. That just makes me smile. So thanks for reading our work, and thanks for the ways you thank us, too.

  5. Thanks for this post Andi! Hearing that someone read a book is awesome. It’s a gift of time, and time is valuable. I will admit that when I interview people about their books, I often try to ask about a point they make in a later chapter because I want to let the person know I read it!

  6. We all crave knowing that what we’re putting out there makes a difference to someone, somewhere.

    What a gift to simply say, ‘thanks, the words from your heart impacted me.’

    Thank you, Andi …

  7. Scott says:

    I agree. As a writer, you spend so much time in isolation that when someone reads your book, it’s as if they’re joining you. Keeping you company. It makes the time spent alone worth it. Reading a book is a time commitment. So when they crack that cover, they’re saying, “I will investing time into what you have to say.” Isn’t that why writers write? So others will read. Great post!

      • Andi says:

        As an editor and a writer, I concur. 🙂 And yes, it is like being kept company – I love that idea. I think now I’ll imagine my readers in a chair next to me by a fireplace. Thanks, Scott.

  8. Katia says:

    Thank you for this post. Writers need all the encouragement we can have to continue to do the work we do. It makes my heart sing to read a note from someone — just one person is enough — who was moved deeply by something I wrote.

    • Andi says:

      Absolutely, Katia. I have this little folder where I save all the kind notes I receive. When I’m having a hard day or those ugly voices get too loud, I read through those notes. They remind me that what I do matters. Thanks so much for reading.

  9. Yes! Writing is about creating and connecting, and until the connection happens — no matter the way the book is acquired — the art isn’t complete.

    Makes me think of the Neil Gaiman quote I shared on my blog recently:

    [D]on’t ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read…
    —Neil Gaiman

  10. Allison says:

    Ever since I became active on Goodreads, I have tried to post a review of each book I read. I didn’t realize how important those reviews were to the AUTHORS of the books, though! I figured it helped those looking for a book to read. So, thanks for helping me understand how my review of a book (or even the number of “stars” I give a book) can help not only other readers, but authors too!

    • Andi says:

      Oh very much, Allison. Yes. Honest reviews always matter. Absolutely. They matter to writers’ hearts (and in some practical ways, too). So thanks for being so intentional about them.

  11. Bethany says:

    On this note, Anne I love your blog. I look forward to it showing up in my inbox every day and I always make space to read it when it does. Thank you for sending your words out into cyberspace for us all to share. You are a gifted writer!

  12. Leah says:

    First and foremost, I’m a bookseller – and heaven help the poor soul who comes up to me after I’ve finished a fantastic novel! I have handsold multiple books just through enthusiasm alone (Jojo Moyes, Kate Morton, All the Light We Cannot See, A Tale for the Time Being, Diana Wynne Jones, score of Middle Grade novels, etc). I especially love coming across an older title and sharing it (whether by putting it in a customer’s hands or introducing it to someone through goodreads or my blog). Being able to spread some love to a title no longer in the media is one of my favorite things about being a blogger/bookseller.

    My blog is also a HUGE way to share my love of a particular novel – or author! I also love how social media, namely Twitter, can instantly connect me to an author and I waste no time reaching out to that writer to gush over a book (or even a character or scene – haha, a few months ago I was reading a historical fiction novel based on a royal family and got a little ahead of myself while reading. Curiosity got the better or me and I headed over to wikipedia…only to completely spoil the ending. 🙂 Naturally I had to share my moment of suffering with the author!)

    • Andi says:

      I hear that, Leah. When I was a bookseller – my almost favorite job, second only to writer – I did the same thing. . . gushing was a good sales tactic. And for me, too, my blog is a way to share the work of writers I love. I think of writers and readers as part of a literary community. Glad we’re in it together.

  13. Erika says:

    I absolutely love this!
    Writers – like all artists – spend a great deal of time talking ourselves into writing, battling the voices that say what we do doesn’t matter, or that it’s selfish. When someone tells us that our writing was worth their time, it’s as if a giant sword of support has hushed those voices that whisper about our ineptitude.
    Wow!

  14. Anung V says:

    OMG I know. I love to hear when others have enjoyed what I’ve put out. I try to help by leaving comments (on blogs) or buy the book. I do reviews on my blog, so that is a help. But I should do more to put it on social media and keep up on my reviews on Goodreads. I have to remember that my voice on their book is more important then my fear.

    • Andi says:

      OH yes, absolutely, Anung. Just a suggestion – when you write about a book on your blog, drop the author an email or tag her/him in a tweet or status update. I LOVE hearing about reviews, and most of us will share the review as a way of saying things – and maybe you’ll get a few new readers that way. 🙂

  15. Natalie says:

    This was such a great article because you wrote what I think all the time. I’m not a published author/writer (YET!), but I’ve been writing since I was a little girl in my journals and I’ve been wanting to write a fiction novel for so long and never even start. But this reminds me that yes, that is what I want – to feel the support of my future readers. To know that I am writing things they relate to and that they don’t feel alone. In essence, that’s what you’ve done for me with this guest post, so thank you!!

    • Andi says:

      What a beautiful thing to say, Natalie. And all of us were once writers who had yet to publish – we all know how it is, so hear me say this – we need your novel because you’re the only one who can tell it. And you are not alone. We’re right here with you.

  16. Jenn says:

    Thank you, Andi. I don’t have a book published, but I know how much it means to me when others tell me they’ve read or shared something I have written! Time is precious, so it’s huge when people spend theirs on my work.

    Your post reminds me that we are all seeking validation – that we all want to know that the work we are doing is valuable. It’s got me thinking about how I can encourage those around me, writers or not.

    (By the way, I plan on sharing a link to this post on my own humble blog this weekend! :))

  17. Tim says:

    I read Sarah Bessey’s “Jesus Feminist after another blogger friend said on Twitter that she was done with it and wondered if someone else would like it next. I immediately called dibs, and said I’d be happy to pass it along afterward. So I did, and that reader passed it along to another person from the Twitter-sphere, etc.

    We later tweeted about the book chain and Sarah Bessey jumped in with the comment “I love this!”

    I enjoyed that tweet probably even more than I appreciated her book.

  18. Hannah says:

    This was a beautiful post. As a writer, I smiled all the way through it. Thank you for sharing that it’s really the connection with others that creates the most meaning for a writer–probably any artist, really.

  19. Jeannie says:

    I appreciate your post today, Andi. It’s nice to hear an author say that finding out someone’s reading (not just buying) their book is a source of encouragement to them. I sometimes write to authors to tell them I’ve appreciated their book (I usually do this with nonfiction). I also really enjoy Quick Lit here at Modern Mrs. Darcy each month because that’s a great way to share books we’re enjoying; and since I’m on Twitter now I sometimes tag authors whose books I’m reviewing on Quick Lit.

    • Andi says:

      Oh, Jeannie, I love that you write notes and share here on Anne’s site . . . and on Twitter. . . all those things boost my day when I see them about my work. I’m sure the same is true for other writers. Many thanks.

  20. Sarah says:

    This was beautiful! And so true! I don’t know that I ever considered myself a “real” writer until reading this over today and chewing on it. I think what makes me a “real one” is that the same sense of fulfillment you get from knowing they cared enough to read it. I don’t care if I NEVER make money on this blogging; what matters is that people read it, tried it, or passed it on… whatever. They interacted with me, which is the entire reason I blog in the first place. Thank you for this!

Comments are closed.