There’s No Honor In An Unread Book

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

We write for many reasons, but almost always a writer wants someone to read their work. The reader may be themselves because it’s pure self-expression. The reader may be given a book as a gift, as the writer had targeted an audience of friends and family. The reader may be “whoever may like it.”

But either way, writers want their book read, even if it’s just “hey someone liked it.” That means we have to make books findable, it means we have to market them, it means making sure the right audience gets them.

I meet people who avoid marketing their books – not for the lack of time or money (which I understand). Some feel it “lowers” themselves, or is less artistic. Others fear turning into self-promoting jerks or being obsessed with marketing (fears I myself have had before). There were people I’d meet that had these fears about marketing, often a mixture of misguided principle and fear.

I have come to this conclusion.

There is No Honor In An Unread Book.

Books exist for reading. A book’s goal is to record, inspire, interest, help, thrill, whatever. The purpose of a book is to be read by someone.

Your goal is to find the someones and make sure they get it. It could mean buying a hundred copies for your friends so they have your memoir. It could mean a sophisticated marketing campaign. It could mean just throwing money at Amazon ads. But the goal of a book is to be read, and you do yourself no favor as an author not trying to get it into the right hands.

There’s nothing to be afraid of in marketing. Trust me, if you’ve seen what gets published “professionally” you’re probably better than you think. In fact, a book may be not-good but still right for some people.

There’s nothing gained from avoiding marketing, no principle embodied or morality followed by avoiding getting your book into people’s hands. There’s terrible methods, bad ideas, but the basic idea is fine.

I want people to read my books. To be helped, to be thrilled, to learn, to grow. I want to reach out to them and help them. If my writings have flaws, I want to learn.

There’s no honor in an unread book. There’s plenty in reaching your audience.

Steven Savage