Hi friends! Can you believe we’re almost through February?! Eek! As you know, every month I feature a reader from the romance community. Cuz we’re awesome – and readers are the most important part of it. I always love seeing what everyone has to say, and what topics come up. I think you’ll enjoy this one. So everyone give a warm welcome to the wonderful Sahara H.! She’s also a blogger/reviewer at WLP!
When Things Are Too Quiet on the Western Front
I started really reading ebooks while in college. Two years ago, I received a Kindle for Christmas and entered the magical world that is online ebook retail. What drew me in were all the great deals I could receive on books with compelling plot lines even if they weren’t published by a major publishing house. For example, I quickly devoured Lani Wendt Young’s Telesa: The Covenant Keeper, a story of a girl who goes to Samoa and finds more than she bargained for in her family history. I also read and loved Tracy Rozzlynn’s Fast Tracked, a dystopian YA novel about a young girl, Alexandria, and how she quickly enters the high societal caste while leaving behind the boy she loves. The great thing about both of these titles was that they were reasonably priced and well written. As a result, I fell in love with the world of self-publishing.
Am I a self-published author? No. Do I review self-published books from time to time? Yes. Sunita over at Dear Author wrote a great post about the expectations readers have regarding pieces of published work. The point is that when I bought a book, I entered into a transaction; I paid for the entertainment that a book brings. I also like to think that a sort of customer relationship is built when a reader buys a book, especially with a series. For example, I read Series A because I enjoy the author’s writing style and continue to purchase his or her books. When the author is backed by a major publishing house and if sales are good, I don’t have to worry about the author continuing a series. In the case of a self-published author, do I have this luxury? No.
Many self-published authors do a great job in keeping readers informed on upcoming projects, release dates, and are engaged in online reading communities such as Goodreads. I’ve run into a few instances, however, where an author promises a book on a certain date and then postpones it. This is fine, as a reader I have to understand that in exchange for the convenient price and gratification I get from a self-published work, I must respect the author’s work schedule/real life commitments. But what happens when you’ve supported an author’s work, bought their backlist and shown commitment to a series and the author suddenly goes dark?
This is what I have a problem with. I know self-published authors are real people not chained to a desk writing for my benefit, but if I’ve made the commitment to support your work and you’ve established a relationship with your readers via Facebook, Twitter, a blog etc. then there should be some kind of explaination as to why reader expectations of a new book, the continuing of a series, etc. will not be met. Even a 140 character tweet such as, “I will no longer continue the series” “I don’t feel like writing anymore,” at least give me as a reader, an understanding as to what is going on. I may not like it, I may not be happy with your decision, but at least you as an author have respected the relationship we have built as writer and reader or producer and consumer. All I am saying for those in the self-published community is that if you’ve established a following and create expectations for a new release or the next series, don’t leave your readers hanging waiting to know what’s next.
I hate when authors drop off the edge of the earth. Don’t they know we worry??
Authors have families and personal lives, and many have day jobs too. Maybe they lose inspiration, maybe they feel pressured and can’t perform, or maybe the closeness of the internet community gets to them and they seek privacy and distance. Self-publishing is hard (says an editor who works with many self-pubbed authors). It’s time consuming, expensive, and labor intensive. Maybe the author just wants to write and take a break from the business side for a while. Sometimes they’re afraid to make updates and tell readers things aren’t going well, because it feels like admitting defeat. Or maybe they lose interest and just plain don’t feel like putting out new books. I think as readers we should support our favorite authors, even if that means respecting their quiet periods or even ultimately their choice to quit altogether.
Hi, Sahara! Thanks for your post–that totally makes sense to me. I do read a few self-published authors, and most of them are great at keeping their readership up to date with their anticipated releases. I agree though that it’s really helpful to even hear a “I need a break” post if the author plans to go dark. Otherwise we readers can reasonably get frustrated, I think, when suddenly the rug’s pulled out from under ;p