Does asking hurt?
This blog post was going to have a completely different approach, but maybe I can weave what I had initially intended into my current concerns.
Does asking hurt? And if so, who does it hurt, and why?
Here, I´m speaking specifically about writers, but it could relate to anyone in need.
Recent discussion in a group laid open the following:
Writers ask for support such as „buy my book“, „write a review“, „spread the word“. All three are intended to go together but do not do so, necessarily.
Someone may or may not not buy your book. They may get it free in a giveaway or download it when it is free on kindle, or borrow it from a library from which the author may or may not enjoy lending rights. (It has to get into the library first and that library has to be in a country that pays out on such rights, and I guess the author has to be in that country, too. I may be wrong on that last bit.)
Anyway, say the reader has the book. Will he/she write a review? Who knows? It may not grab them. There may be other stuff to do. They may have just wanted to help out the writer by getting the book free, even buying it. They may just have forgotten. Life. They may love it, they may love you, they may write a review, They may do the same if they hate it or you.
Asking hurts. The optimists say, the worst thing that they can hear is „no“. I reckon the worst thing is limbo where you know nothing. But thinking again, maybe that isn´t such a bad thing.
Over on the other side, people might say: Oh heck, another one. I don´t know you. I really don´t have time. Not my cup of tea. Love it! I´ll read it! I´ll read it because it´s my friend. I´ll read it because it´s someone I know, and how can I refuse? and that makes me uncomfortable. So it hurts. They´ve sent me their book; now I´ll have to. And some might say, hey, I´ve got time, I bought it, I read it, I loved it. I´ll tell all my friends about it. I´ll tweet, share, etc., post a review on Amazon, post a review on Good Reads, blog it. Like it on Facebook. Retweet. I´m getting so tired. When can I read what I want by someone who doesn´t know me?
Bingo. I´ll read some reviews by people who must know what´s good. And you find good books and no one bugs you to buy them, which you do anyway because so and so says so and he/she must know. A life at last.
But that is the life of the reader who does not write, unless, of course, he or she is adventurous and is looking elsewhere because the „biggies“, like „biggies“ everywhere, are not the last word and so many „indies“ are making their mark, and as writers, we have a lot to learn from such astute readers. But do we? But that is another discussion.
For those who may have opted to write, be part of a writing community, where community according to Merriam-Webster is: a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc., where we read people we know or don´t know, review what we like or don´t with posts on Amazon, Good Reads etc., I think there is still a little more that we could do – for the craft, for writers, for the writing community. I think we need to be honest. Some say, for example, that they´re not into genre, not into litfic, etc. – ok, even if more´s the loss, but ok – they don´t have time – they don´t want the pressure. Just say it! Writers are learning all the time to take rejection on their way to improvement. It´s just another one on the road to make us stronger. A purple heart of sorts, as my teacher, Alex Keegan used to say in my old Boot Camp days when the rejections came in.
It takes courage to ask, even if it´s what looks like a desperate tweet from someone we know. Let´s be there for writers and for our community. If we don´t buy, let´s help them spread the word so that others – maybe those astute readers into new stuff – can make up their own minds. Say it´s your friend, a member of your group. That´s not nepotism. That´s support. Your feeling of discomfort at having been asked is nothing compared to how hard it is to do the asking.
That being said, I have two requests:
Please check out www.shortstoryconference.organd support the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English in any way you can.
And please do likewise for my crowdfunding project to get my stories out in German at https://100fans.de/projects/69