I think a lot of authors, myself definitely included, are control freaks. It’s understandable. We have far less control over our careers than most people. Just off the top of my head, we generally have little to no say over:
- Cover art
- Publisher’s marketing plan
- Orders from the big chains
- Release schedule
- Award recognition
- Any of a thousand random glitches, from misspellings on the cover to database errors to distribution troubles (one of my books didn’t make it into Canada until more than a month after the release date)
So it makes sense that we’d focus on things we feel we can influence or control. Since most of us aren’t in a position to make demands of our publisher, this can come out at the readers. Usually it’s a request. Sometimes it’s an outright command, telling you when and where and to post reviews, buy books, and so on.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling readers “This is how you can help my book succeed.” Posting reviews, whether on your blog, at Amazon, or wherever, is helpful. Buying a book the first week it’s out helps more than buying that same book two months later. Buying from a brick and mortar store can be more helpful than buying from Amazon.
But it bothers me when we cross the line into pressuring our readers, or guilting them into not doing more. If you want to post a review, great! If you rush out to buy my stuff as soon as it’s out, thank you for helping with those early and important sales numbers. But do it because you want to, not because I badgered you into it.
So, since I have a book coming out in five weeks and four days, I want to be very clear: you don’t owe me anything. If you’re not comfortable writing reviews, or you just don’t want to, that’s fine. If ordering from Amazon is more convenient, or if you just want to wait and check the book out from the library, then that’s what you should do. (Heck, if you have no interest in reading my books at all, that’s okay too. I’ll be very sad, but it’s still okay 😉
An author can’t succeed without readers, but I don’t think authors can or should hold the readers responsible for our success (or lack thereof). It’s my responsibility as the author to write a good book that people want to read. And if any of my promotional posts ever start to cross the line into pressuring/guilting my readers, I hope you’ll all feel free to call me on that.