Help Wanted: Readers Shaping the Future of Books


Imagine it’s the end of a long, grueling day, and the only medicine is a good book. You walk into a bookstore to find your next read. New Releases are straight ahead and immediately a title catches your eye. So you reach up on your tiptoes, grab the last copy, and slowly crack open the front cover.

You lick your thumb and leaf through a few pages. As your eyes gaze over the seemingly obscure squiggles, you get an odd feeling. “Deja Vu?”

A name jumps from the page. A face emerges from that particular set of squiggles. An old forgotten friend? A familiar feeling sets in. You continue reading and oddly enough, it describes the exact image in your head.

“Is this a coincidence? I couldn’t have read this before, but why does it feel so familiar?”

You flip through a few more pages and it hits you: “I have read this before!”

AuthorTalk isn’t just about giving Reader Advocates a sneak peak into pre-released book manuscripts in all genres. We aren’t just about providing writers and publishers with market insights that enable them to sell more books. We forge a unique bond between the writer, reader and publisher with a distinctive offering for the publishing industry.

As a writer or publisher sends work out to a handful of AuthorTalk Reader Advocates, readers are introduced to first-time authors and their imaginations open up to new worlds. Authors receive candid and confidential feedback from a subset of anonymous Reader Advocates who, for the love of reading and a gift card reward, agree to read an advance copy of a book manuscript and tell the author what they think.

Never before has such responsibility been afforded to the average reader. The power is in their hands to shape a finished product and the author is equipped with immediate access to readers’ thoughts.

When we read we are exposed. We are vulnerable. We are  transformed.

Our Reader Advocates have the privilege of interacting with nascent stories before they appear on bookshelves across the nation or even the world. Reader Advocates have the unique pleasure of seeing their suggestions in print when they unexpectedly encounter a book they once read as an unfinished draft wrapped in a shiny, polished book cover.

We are all connected in many ways, so why not over our favorite book genres?

After reading the author’s manuscript, the reader moves into the world changed both in imagination and empathy. Scientific American cites a study that shows how readers of literary fiction experience higher levels of empathy as a result of their time spent with characters.  Then it seems that books impact us in significant ways long after they have passed through our hands and imaginations.

This is the lasting impact of reading. This is the beauty of collaboration: authors receiving valuable critique from the reader and readers getting lost in fresh stories in their favorite genre. It’s a beautiful and special kind of exchange. If you’re interested in taking authors ideas and words to new heights, become a Reader Advocate.

Then one day what started as the seed of an idea in the mind of a writer may end up on the “new arrivals” shelf in your nearest bookstore.  And someday, you’ll run your finger across a book spine you recognize in pride and admiration that you played an important part in seeing it across the publishing finish line.