I’m going to take a moment to talk about attitudes.
Now, I get that being an author is really hard. I’m an author, I’ve sunk hundreds of hours into writing, editing, and marketing my books. I’m right there in the trenches, as an author.
I’m also a reader, and I have to be honest, as a reader, we need to have a talk.
There’s no real easy way to say this, so I’m going to go ahead and be blunt. I see a lot of authors out there with a really unpleasant attitude.
Their basic line of thought is ‘what can my readers do for me?’
They’re all about how readers should review, because reviews are there help the author reach more readers. Their readers should buy their entire catalogue of books, at full price. They should shout about their books from the rooftops and buy extra copies for their friends and family. They believe, or at least seem to believe, that readers owe them that.
Let that sink in a moment.
They believe that because someone bought one copy of their book, that because that person handed over some of their hard-earned money in return for a piece of entertainment, that that person now owes the author lots more money, time, and effort.
Now I’m not saying that all authors are like that! There are hundreds and probably thousands of really nice, wonderful, caring authors out there who adore their readers.
I’m not even saying that all of the authors with that thinking are that extreme.
The fact remains though, that attitude does exist, and it needs to change.
How does this attitude come about? We’ll ignore the worst offenders, those who chase down their readers and friends and bully them into buying their books. We’ll focus on those who don’t really mean any harm, they’re just not looking at it in a reader-friendly fashion.
I see a lot of memes, posts, tweets, etc with phrases like “if you want to support your favourite author…” and “reviews help authors, so leave a review.”
When people post things like that, they’re putting a lot of pressure on readers. I have spoken to quite a lot of readers who now either don’t review at all, or very rarely review, because of the pressure authors have put on them. When I, as a reader, see authors posting things telling me what I can, and should, do to support them, I take a step back.
As a reader, it’s not my job to support authors. As my dear beloved husband would say, ‘I’m not your mother.’
If I find a book that I really enjoy, I will tell my friends about it. People who follow me on Twitter have no doubt seen me jump up and down and squee about books I love. I’m not the only one, lots of readers get a huge kick out of sharing books they love.
Writing books isn’t about putting out a story we as the author love, and then demanding everyone give us money, and time, and energy.
Writing books is about touching people (not like that!), it’s about giving them an experience only we can give them. It’s about changing their life if only for a second. It’s not about what readers can do for authors, it’s about what authors can do to make readers happier.*
Next time you see a meme that is author-centric, take a moment to think about it before you reshare. Do you really want readers to see you as that person?
(I’m not getting into the fan entitlement debate).