Randall Payleitner

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Authors and Readers… and Everyone In Between

All the fuss about ebooks, Amazon, bookstores, “building a platform,” and, really, social media as a whole, boils down to one basic element that is equal parts sobering and exhilarating. In the world of information, there is really only one critical transaction: An author reaching his or her readers.

We know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So also is the shortest distance between an author and a reader going to be the one fraught with the least unnecessary deviations from that short line.

In the world of publishing, there are plenty of other people/roles between an author and a reader. Now, before we publishing people get panicky, let me clearly say that I don’t think the best answer is removing all other roles in the process (I am an editor, after all). The best answer, though, is to make sure that everyone who is a part of the “Author Reaching Reader” equation is helping make that relationship flourish.

As an editor, I take this very seriously. An editor’s job is to make that gap between the author and the reader shorter. To close the information holes. To enrich the prose. To help the value come to the forefront. To shorten the run-on sentences. At a publishing house, I work with other editors, designers, acquirers, marketing experts, salespeople, accountants, customer service professionals, technology experts, and others. Each of these roles plays a critical part in that author/reader relationship.

Great designers help a reader picture a third dimension in their reading experience. The best acquirers understand their readers and go out looking for the content they need. Marketing and salespeople have the ultimate role of actually connecting real products with real people—a Herculean task in our world of infinite information. Accountants make sure this relationship is financially viable. Customer service professionals ensure a smooth transaction. And, technology experts help the author/reader relationship go to new heights in our digital age.

Since authors and readers both have limited time, and unlimited competition for that time… The best thing those of us in the middle can do is figure out how to best serve each of them, how to make that line between them clearer, and how to make the best books possible.