‘Reader, I married him’

Writers SA CEO Laura Kroetsch on building a readership, and how we support each other as writers and readers.

A person holds an open book

‘Reader, I married him’ – Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

Arguably the most famous turn to the audience in English literature. Recently matched, perhaps,
by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the play and TV program Fleabag.

I have spent my working life building readership for writers. For most readers and writers this
sounds bewildering as I am not currently a bookseller or a magazine/book editor. Instead what I
do is ‘sell’ a narrative that is about making a career for a writer while simultaneously making
people better readers – or at least I try.

Readership is reading, it is the voice in a writer’s head, the imagined audience, it is the sale of a
book, a library loan and a copy borrowed from a friend. It is who or what we write to, and it is
what we do when we encounter words. And it is more than that.

Deep breath, a friend recently said ‘no audience, no art’ and I’m inclined to agree. Before your
outrage hits the keyboard, try and think of it this way. Art is more than a person and a medium, it
is an industry, one that should endeavour to pay the artist no matter the medium. This can be
very tricky for many writers as most are not part of a performance company, a union or a lobby

Book and freelance writers are largely on their own, and their art form relies on a ticketing model
that is arguably underfunded and is certainly ‘rigorous’ – one sold book, one royalty payment,
one completed commission, one payment.

Most writers don’t make a living writing, and the idea of the ‘creative discount’ gives me the
stitch. It is the very real practice that says if you are doing what you love it’s okay to pay you
less – an economic model the arts rely upon.

And you dear Reader (and writer), what has this got to do with you? In many ways readers carry the financial burden of this industry. Your discretionary income is what we track publicly on a bestsellers list
and privately on Bookscan. You are circulation figures writ large and small. You are hits and
unique views and Substack and TikTok.

Readers are also more than their wallets, they are the other half of the equation. I have always
maintained that a book is a physical record of the imaginings of one human waiting to be
encountered by another. A book is an object, reading is what makes it writing. And the more
you read the more you know, so read widely and you will be rewarded.

Our request from you is two-fold, we ask that you read a fellow writer and if you like that writer, you
form a lasting bond. What we need you to do is tell your friends, possibly buy some more copies
as gifts and most importantly, when the next book (or article or blog) comes along you re-invest
your time and where possible your money.

Commitment is what can make a writer’s career – that or a big Netflix deal. For most book
writers, writing is long; some writers may only publish a handful of books in a lifetime, others
hundreds. But if they want those books out in the world they need readers. Some for the sheer pleasure of connecting with another human, some for the cold hard cash, others because they are contributing to a larger conversation. Most would prefer to be remunerated. All worked to make those words appear in whatever form you have encountered them.

So yes, we are, as Bronte would have it, inviting you to marry. And please, dear Reader,
remember that writers are readers too.

—Laura Kroetsch, Writers SA CEO

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