What Writers Owe Readers and Vice-Versa

What Writers Owe Readers and Vice-Versa

tumblr_mmvohvsRXb1rnvzfwo1_500Okay, so I’m really sorry, but I don’t remember where I received the link for an interesting Huffington Post article┬áI read yesterday that was essentially a rant more than a column (it’ll probably show up in my related content feed, so you’ll probably find it at the bottom). However, I can give you the gist. The writer of this article I read believes readers owe writers nothing and writers owe readers nothing in return. The writer feels this way because of a FEW entitled writers angry that reviews aren’t being left for books readers have read. Now, in this light readers really don’t owe writers anything. The book is there for their entertainment, not for the purpose of being reviewed or to help a writer’s career. So if they want to buy a book at a second-hand book store, that is their business and not the author’s.

However, I believe we writers do owe readers a good book, but we also don’t owe them the book they want.

In any case, I found a flaw in the article. It was very hateful, to start. Essentially we writers should be left to our own devices to drown in our careers. Sure, we can posit all we want that readers owe us nothing, but then when does that stop? Mid-listers and small press authors and indie authors depend on reviews to be noticed, depend on reviews for sales, depend on reviews to make money. If we impress upon readers they owe us nothing, they really will owe us nothing and then it’s very possible our careers as writers will flounder. Then we won’t be writing and readers won’t be reading.

I have 40 interested reviewers for my book so far. I am allowed to expect that they owe me a review or a quote in exchange for a free ARC. Does that make me entitled? I don’t think so. I am depending on reviews, word-of-mouth, to really push my book out there, and if I’m not getting those reviews, I’m going to be upset. You just got a free book. Write even a one sentence review. I don’t care if the review of my book is bad. Even bad reviews can still garner sales because readers can read that review and still discover something in that review that they like that the reviewer didn’t like. I’m not going to be hurt. I’m not going to attack you. That is your right as a reader. I am just going to be grateful you took the time out of your schedule to give my book a chance at all.

Now outside of giving free books in exchange for reviews, readers don’t owe us anything. They bought our books. That should be good enough. I am going to be grateful to every reader who buys my book, even the ones who bought it and discovered it wasn’t their cup of tea. They gave me and the book a chance, and that is enough.

The mentality, too, that writers owe readers nothing is a little dangerous. Sure, we owe them nothing insofar as to what we want to write, but we owe them a darn good book because a darn good book will help our sales. A fantastic book is the best way to ensure good sales, along with an expanding base of followers THAT YOU INTERACT WITH. A darn good book will also foster literacy and hopefully inspire people in their lives and affect a change in their lives. I certainly want my book to inspire someone.

I don’t write for the money. Period. But if I spend years pouring everything I have into a book, I expect compensation of sorts. You wouldn’t expect a chef to give you a free meal without some sort of compensation so don’t expect a writer to give you a free book without some sort of compensation either.

The arts seem to be the one thing where receivers of art hold this entitled attitude that we should starve for our work, while all other vocations are expected to receive compensation. We need to put more value into our arts than that.


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