When I moved to Alabama, a colleague asked if I knew who was number one in football. Not being a sports enthusiast, but reading all parts of the newspaper religiously, I replied that the polls said my alma mater, the University of Michigan, was ranked number one.
“No,” I was told. “Alabama is number one.”
I scratched my head and wondered about him. Apparently, he didn’t keep up with the news and his taste in clothing – a crimson blazer and a houndstooth vest – left something to be desired. At least, it wasn’t as loud a combination as the burnt orange blazer and navy blue tie another guy in the office seemed to sport every Friday.
It didn’t take long for me to understand the fervent loyalty Alabama and Auburn fans have for their teams. They live, breathe, and probably would sell their first born child for if it would insure a victory. They revere their coaches as Gods – at least as long as their teams are winning. Some people think their devotion to their schools is crazy.
There was a time I was a member of that latter group, but not anymore. Since becoming a writer, I understand the value of fans. They are the people who validate my efforts and those of my fellow writers. They encourage and give us purpose. When a person says “I liked your book” or “Your book really made a difference in my life,” it means the world to us.
That’s why, having fans and being a fan is a reciprocal relationship. Readers trust us to give them the best book possible. They want us to transport them away from their everyday lives, even if only for a few minutes. Hopefully, we not only do that, but we treat our fans with respect and admiration.
Without our readers behind us, much like a team playing a championship game, we are nothing. So, it is a two way street. We must be our fans biggest fans.