What I’m Owed

April 20, 2015

This post is a response to a recent post that I read (Authors, Please Stop Complaining) . Go ahead and check it out.

Alright, I immediately had a response to this post but instead of a super long comment I felt I’d respond via my own point of view on the topic at hand.

I’m not one of those authors pandering readers for reviews. Honestly, I don’t believe I’m OWED anything beyond one (rather 1.5) simple courtesy.

With the exception of those who receive ARCs for reviews, I’m not obligated to a reader’s review.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate them a great deal. That even goes for the ones who aren’t sunshine and rainbows, but that has more to do with the fact that I am well aware that I’m not pleasing everyone. A review (for those who read them) helps a reader who has stumbled across my book make a decision that a sample may not.

However, no matter how long or hard an author worked on a book, they are not obligated to receive a review as part of the “exchange” between an author and reader. The main thing that an author is entitled to is the rightful acquisition of their work. In short, the book should be purchased or obtained (by giveaway for example) through legal channels. No piracy.

The .5 I mentioned earlier is for the small group of people who will read a book completely (love it or hate it) and return it. I could rant on about this, but I’ll just reference the sandwich metaphor. You can’t  eat the sandwich claim you don’t like it and not pay. Stop doing that. There is Kindle Unlimited if you want to read tons of books for a set price. There are authors who have done their research on the way they feel about it, but I haven’t (I’ve declined joining it) so I have no comment other than it’s  an option available over “borrowing” a book from a store from which its on sale. 

All in all, the author is owed one thing from the reader—for them to legally obtain the book.

That’s it.

A review isn’t OWED to anyone.

I have to wonder if authors who request, whine, or threaten readers (with what? Tantrums?) leave reviews on every book they read or for any of the excellent services they are provided.

Do they leave reviews for their server when they had excellent service at dinner? How about for the hotel for the last convention they attended?

The reality is we are all—for the most part—the consumer of someone’s product or service. We don’t owe that hotel, restaurant, author, musician, etc any more than payment for services rendered. Side note: paying your dining bill is not paying your server. Tips are for your server.

Reviews, recommendations, and general pimping is an added benefit of people who really love what they’ve received from the service provider. But this is an added bonus—a privilege received, not a right deserved.

For the reviews I have received, I’m often at a loss for words. Part of this is due to my sheer inability to take a compliment, but also the realization that, by performing what an author believes is a simple request, is time out of a reader’s day. Keep in mind that the reader not only sat down and read the book, but took the time to write something I’ve worked so hard on. I am under no delusion that I am owed these things by my readers.

Now to questions a reader shouldn’t ask. This is a thing? I don’t get many questions, so I guess I can’t say what I’d bother putting on a list of questions not to ask me. Honestly, a reader can ask me anything. I am under no obligation to answer the question and am within my right to use my words—gasp! Imagine that. They can be used for more than telling stories.—to respond to the question appropriately.

Finally, let me address this desire to make a “list”. I don’t measure my success by whether I can make a list. My success will come when I can support my family to the same or better degree than I am currently doing while working a full-time job. That is my measure of success. To make a NYT, USA, Amazon bestseller list would be nice, and I’d gleefully celebrate it, but if I could afford to write for a living, that would be my idea of success. I need any authors telling (when they should be asking) readers to buy the book the first week because that’s the only one that matters…Stop that. As Ms. Vey states, you should thank readers for considering your book in the first place.

As an author, if you are doing any of this shit. Stop it. With all the books on the market, no one owes you the most priceless commodity anyone can have—their time spent—reading your book. Be glad that one reader found you in a sea of millions of other books.

Be glad, because frankly no one owes you a damn thing.