Love the One You’re With

The, ahem, older song “Love the One You’re With” was always one I liked, but the message wasn’t one I really cared for. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with? Well, that sort of encourages cheating, doesn’t it? And, of course, a man wrote it. I think.

But I’ve been thinking a lot about readers here lately. Now I know some of you may be unpublished as of yet, but I think this post can apply to anything you are involved with, especially if that thing is aimed at getting new people to climb on board with something, whether it’s reading your books or attending your dinner party.

I’m the president of NOLA Stars chapter, and here lately we’ve had a huge slide in membership. All those people who were so eager to learn 5-6 years ago bolstered our numbers and it was good. We had critique groups, gave bootcamps, and threw pretty darn good conferences. But over the last 2 years, those people have fallen off the bandwagon and we’ve watched our size decrease to half. When I asked people why, they inevitably say, “I’m just not getting anything out of it anymore” or they’d say “I’m indie publishing and I can get what I need without paying dues.” Ouch! And I’m not going to lie, it hurt. It felt like a reflection on me as the President. And I stewed about it.

One day at a meeting, where I was pretty visibly upset because we didn’t even have enough people to vote on an important bylaw, someone said something to me that was like a baseball bat to the head – why worry about the people who don’t want to be here. Shouldn’t we worry more about the ones who are actually here?

Uh, DUH!

And suddenly I got it – you have to love the one your with.

Translating this to readers also makes sense. In this industry, we’re constantly chasing this or that…or our tails. Add more newsletter subscribers, creates a FB page for readers, sell more books, do ads to reach more people. Visibility, Visibility, Visibility! But what if you just loved the ones you’re with?

Think about it. You have people who like what you do. May not be a ton, but you have some, right? Love those people. Tend to those people. Write the words for those people. And you might find that before long, those people grow. And they tell others about you. And pretty soon you’re doing organic building of your readers by simply focusing on them…and not on all the other people who aren’t reading you. It’s something plenty of successful people have done. In fact, my husband who is a huge fan of KISS (yes, my dentist husband loves to rock out to “Lick it Up.” Irony?) tells me they owe their success to the few who liked them. They grassrooted that ride all the way to the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.

So instead of feeling frantic about the readers you don’t have, perhaps you should love the one you’re with.

You’re welcome for the earworm 🙂

10 responses to “Love the One You’re With”

  1. It’s an amazing feeling when a reader tells you they connected with your books and are excited about the next one. I’m especially grateful for my review team – who help in extraordinary ways just by reading and giving their opinions. Sure, they may not number in the hundreds and I may not have as many reviews as some big name authors, but the ones I have are fantastic. Very good point. Less angst, more gratitude. I feel we would all be happier going through life that way.

  2. Liz Talley says:

    Indeed. I feel so many in this industry give the message of more, more, more and in our pursuit for that more, we forget what we do have. This new philosophy has really helped me to stay focused on what is important and to appreciate the people I already have reading my books. Sometimes we need to tilt our heads a bit for a different perspective. Glad I got mine because it truly helped me.

  3. Addison Fox says:

    Love this post, Liz!! I think this also maps really nicely to the whole idea of enjoying the journey. It has different stages and phases. Learning to love each part (no matter how hard) is incredibly important.


    And the ear worm is alive and well and BURROWING!!! 🙂

    • Liz Talley says:

      I’ve been singing it all morning, too, Addison.

      Yes, enjoying each part of a journey is so important. Keeps us positive and focused on what really matters. And why we write the books we do.

  4. Thank you for the perspective, Liz. It reminds me of the idea of feeding positive and starving negative thoughts…focusing on what one has instead of what one doesn’t have. And I’ve been trying to make gratitude a conscious part of my daily routine, so this fits right in with that. 😉

  5. Jen Gilroy says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this perspective, Liz. Very helpful!

  6. I used to have conflicting feelings about that song too. But with a new perspective, it better applies! Thanks, Liz.

  7. Elisa Beatty says:

    I love this take on that old line!!

    Yes, trying to please everybody (or be all things to all people) just doesn’t work in this business. Finding the right niche and giving your energy to that wholeheartedly is a much less frustrating way to approach things.


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