Author Entitlement

Novel Survey Update: 130+ responses and counting.  My goal is to try to get at least 200.

Steven Saus pointed me toward A Softer World’s comic on fairy tale romance.  Yes!!!

Michael Cannon took the picture of me in my hat and photoshopped it into something awesome.  Yes, that is Smudge the fire-spider all blinged out on my shoulder.


The first time I noticed the author entitlement thing in myself was with book discussion forums.  I’d come across a post asking for recommendations for good fantasy humor, or maybe someone wanted suggestions for a fun SF/F series with strong women characters.  Naturally, I’d peek to see if anyone had recommended my books.

Occasionally someone would, but usually it was the same old Pratchett and Asprin, Bujold and Bradley.  And I realized I was getting cranky about this.  Some of it seems to spring from envy.  “Why aren’t I getting the same buzz as so-and-so? They should be recommending me!  Strong female leads?  Come on!  Have you seen my covers?  I deserve to be in those lists!”

Only that’s not my call to make.  The fact that I’ve written books about goblins and kick-ass princesses doesn’t mean I get a free pass to the top of everyone’s recommended reading list.  I happen to think I’m a pretty good writer, but I don’t get to say how successful I should be.  That’s up to the readers.  (And for the record, I’m tremendously grateful for the success I’ve had — thank you!)

The sense of entitlement seems worst with some of the authors from a certain subclass of “publisher.”  Check out a few quotes from the testimonials page at Publish America.

“…people always told me it was difficult to get published. WRONG!”

“…no one,except Publish America will give the little guy, the unknown poet,the chance to get recognized.”

“…PA creates a serious threat to the publishing industry. PA helps new authors get started.”

Ignoring the idiotic assertion that commercial publishers won’t publish new writers, the underlying assumption is that we all deserve to be published.  We’re all entitled to that success.

Sorry, but no.  In kindergarten, everyone’s drawing gets hung up on the classroom wall.  But you’re a grown-up now, and writing a book doesn’t entitle you to a publishing contract.  The fact that you think it’s good doesn’t mean you’re right, nor does it mean a publisher must invest tens of thousands of dollars to get your book out there.

For those of us who do break in with a big publisher, that contract does not entitle us to NYT Bestseller status.  It doesn’t obligate the publisher to buy major in-store displays or table placement at the major chains.  Do I want those things?  Heck yes!  But am I entitled to them?  Envious as I might feel when my friends get a bigger marketing push than me, I’m the last one qualified to say what my books do or don’t deserve.

I feel it with the day job sometimes, too.  I’m a published author.  Why should I have to work a desk job?  Unfortunately, just because I want to write full time doesn’t mean I get to do it.  The world doesn’t owe me a full-time writing career, a NYT bestselling series, or a pony.

Setting goals is good.  Working toward those goals is even better.  But the moment I start griping about not getting the success I deserve, the success I’m owed, then it just starts to feel tacky and childish.

Comments, questions, and outright disagreement are all welcome, as always 🙂