How many times has this happened to you. Someone has worked hard to cook something really special and they are encouraging you to take a bite. They are sure you are going to love it and you, well you’re worried. What if you don’t like it? It smells like it has something you don’t like in it. How do you politely decline? Do you go ahead and taste it? What if you can’t disguise the look of disgust?
It is very similar to book reviews. As an author I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how supportive other authors have been. I love to read, so many times I will go looking for someone’s work that I’ve noticed through FaceBook, BookRix, Twitter or the many other social networks I belong to.
After the reading, I will happily do a review because I know how valuable these are to an author. I always find something that catches my interest and is positive in the work. Reviews help a perspective reader/buyer to find out more about the book and can aid in the decision to read it. Many times the grateful author then feels obligated to return the favor by reading my work. This is where it gets sticky. Though I’ve never had a problem with this as I’m the one who usually initiates the reading of their work, they seem to always feel like they owe me.
How do I let the author know I don’t need a return favor without sounding stuck up or harsh? Maybe I’m a little naive in the way I look at it, but I would prefer someone to read the book because they like the genre, are curious, or have been drawn to it in some way. If someone reads my work, I consider it an honor. If they like it, well that’s the icing on the cake. I don’t want anyone to ever have to feel like they must read my work. It loses it’s wonder and value when that happens.
A reader is a gift. If they enjoy it, we have shared something together. It gives me pleasure to entertain. It would be like going to a race and knowing everyone is going to get a blue ribbon regardless of where they place. Where’s the fun in that? If I get the honor of someone enjoying my work, then I’ve earned my reward.
So, read if you want to, comment if you feel you’d like to, but come of your own free will and know I won’t be insulted if you decline to sample the wares!