Thursday, April 3, 2014

I.O.U. From a Reader's Point of View

Dear Author,

When I left a past job, my ex-boss, as he did with many others who moved on to bigger and better things before me, claimed, "She owes me."

Odd, in looking back, I'm not sure why I owe him or the company anything. After working 65+ hours per week on average and keeping the business afloat and prosperous with my efforts, I'm not sure what I might owe. Perhaps I am to be eternally grateful that he gave me a job in the first place? Could it be that this magnanimous fellow feels he contributed to the work ethics I exhibit today?

I suppose there's no taking into account that I might have been underpaid, overworked, and that I had little life outside of work tasks, or that I worked numerous times to make a deadline when others left to go on picnics, watch baseball games, or because they couldn't handle the pressure of the work overload, Mr. She-Owes-Me included.

In the same way, as I read a book--for enjoyment, for escape, for entertainment--no where in the reading process do I OWE you, the author of that book, a review. I do not owe you a review nor do I owe you the purchase of your next book.

Quite prevalent nowadays, within the independent author realm, is that should I read your book, I am required, expected, and must leave a review...

Um, no.

If you as an author have met my reader needs, if I enjoy your book, if you provided a thrilling read, an emotionally stimulating read, etc., depending on genre, then I will gladly write a review.

As far as you addressing low-rated reviews, such as one- and two-star ratings, DON'T. By attempting to get readers to change their feedback, or to shame them, or engage them in some sort of conflict for sharing their PERSONAL opinion, you are revealing yourself as an author that expects an I.O.U. from his/her readers. Not only do you deign that you deserve a review, but only four- to five-star ones at that.

How arrogant and entitled is that?

Please be aware that neither I or any other reader owes you squat. We paid for your book. We read it. We may or might rate it and leave a review.

Just as it was your perogative to write the book, it is ours as to whether or not to review said book.

While you are awaiting your "well-earned" reviews, why not take classes, write more, seek a professional editor, etc., to become the author you long to be. Perhaps seek honest feedback regarding your covers, editing, book descriptions, etc., from authors and self-publishers in the know.

When we as readers can't tell what the book is about by looking at the cover, that's on you. When your description isn't clear or goes on forever, yep, that's also on you. When you expect massive sales when you only release a single book a year, that's also on you. So is poor editing and lack of marketing and promotion efforts. That's on YOU.

When you consider potential I.O.U.s, perhaps it is you that owes your potential readers the effort it takes to produce and present a professional, readable, enjoyable book.

So, Dear Author Sir or Ma'am, please be aware that the purchase and/or download of your book does not constitute a form of an I.O.U. As a reader, the only "owe" is that you as an author owe us respect as readers. Not review writers. Not someone who owes you something.

Please, be the writer you need to be, and I and others will be the readers we are. No I.O.U. issuance forthcoming.


Ms. Reader