R.V. Doon

Readers United! Time for a Union?

Hey readers, thanks for dropping in.

A Union for readers? Why not? There’s a first time for everything.

I wanted to give readers an outlet to well…gripe.  If gripe is too harsh a word then vent.

If you want me to form a Readers Union say so in the comment section, and if enough sign up there, we’ll have one. Now, I’ve been a life long reader and raised two readers, but I’ve jumped the train and SP a CoRo. The union would have to decide if writers can be admitted, but until you non-writer reader’s speak, I’ll make the case for a union.

A readers union would be in your best interests, after all, when was the last time a literary agent or editor for a trade publishing house actually asked in person your opinion on which types of books you’d like to see on the bookshelves? Wait, was that a gasp?

Hey, if agents and editors are the ones that decide which books a reader can buy, shouldn’t they go out like politicians, every three years at minimum, and do a slog tromp across the country to talk to readers? Heck, politicians stomp across the country meeting voters ie, readers, and not one has ever asked me to pay for the privilege of voting for them or reading their newsletters. However, I pay for the privilege of buying books that agents and editors choose for me to read. And, they have never asked for my opinion.

Note to agents and editors: I’ve been to writer’s conferences and you’re not accessible, not even at the conferences that combine writers and readers. You don’t even wear badges identifying you as an agent or editor because you’re afraid of being mugged by desperate writers. If I had to wear a hospital ID badge while taking care of murderers and rapists, you should be able to handle desperate writers.

Another thing. I’ve written two politicians, both times I’ll admit to being miffed. But both of them sent back long replies instead of clipped sentences. What has the world come to? A disgruntled reader gets more feedback from a politician than the people who bring out books for a living?  Shouldn’t the people that choose the books we select be accessible? I can write a politician but not an editor? A politician answers but not an agent? Is this screwed up?

There’s more.

I’ve never been queried in person about the kinds of books I like to read by editors or agents. Have you?

Frankly, I felt as a reader that no one cared about the books I liked and wanted to read. No one cared, that I didn’t want to wait two or three years for sequels on favorites. They have marketing tools which tell them what readers are buying and other than that they use best judgement. In fact, agents have been making the majority of the decisions. I’ll admit they’ve made some great decisions. But…

Here’s the deal. Readers read books. If they don’t see the exact book they’re looking for they will try another, but not with the same enthusiasm. Genres exist, sort of like corrals, to roundup and pack readers in a group. Yes, fellow readers (and I’m one of you), we’ve been corralled.

Take a big gulp. They won’t call you livestock (to your face) or tell that you’ve been genre branded. They’ll call you dear readers to make you feel better, but you’re carrying a brand even if you can’t see it. I know, I don’t look at my backside in the mirror any more either, I don’t need more proof of the mysterical (new word) function of gravity that my backside, but we’re all branded.

Doesn’t that make you mad? Kinda like how the politicians expect to get a certain amount of votes from a core constituency without doing a thing?  Are you comfortable with this ivory tower reader roundup or do you want to see boots on the ground asking for your opinion? Up to you.

For decades, it’s been one way. Agents will say they don’t have staff to handle emails or money to come and talk to you. Editors will say ditto, plus they’ll add it was a staffer that answered my email not the politician.  Well, I got a well thought out answer even if I didn’t agree with one of them. Trade publishing is still and has been a billion dollar industry. They could cough up the money to include and involve the readers in the process. They chose not to include us.

Why fix what’s not broken? Does your mother still dress you? Does your dad tell you what time to be home? Don’t you want some input into the very process that exists for your sake? Yeah, publishing exists for the reader. Without readers, they can kiss billions of dollars good bye. So why aren’t readers selected to tour publishing houses, to meet favorite authors, like back stage passes for bands? Why don’t the super readers get a free book every once in a while from publishers, editors, or agents? As far as I can tell, only writers give away books to readers.

You tell me why a whole business that exists for readers, makes billions of dollars from you (us), but is also out of reach for the average reader among us? Publishers are rich because of readers buying books. Yeah, we support a billion dollar industry every time we buy books.

What can you do to be included in the top end of the industry instead of just the bottom end?

Buy self published books. Not just self published books, but include some in your buying list. Why? Because they’re the underdogs against big publishing. They broke free of yet another corral that affects writers. Yes, I’m one now, I have a stake. I self published at the end of August, but I spent long years and thousands and thousands of dollars buying books too.

What else can you do? Write reviews. The ability to immediately comment on a book through e readers and on Amazon is an amazing opportunity for a reader to send the message how much you like putting in your two cents. When did that ever happen before Amazon? I was amazed that I could rate a book as soon as I finished the last page. What better way to thank a writer than an instant rating? Or readers writing reviews for other readers so they can make a book selection with confidence? I’ll bet half of you hesitated to rate or review in the beginning, it does take a while to break out of a corral. No more hesitation readers, rate and write reviews to show that your input is important.

Readers have power. Demand more of your favorite books. Continue to support self published authors that deliver book after book in a series in just a few months versus every two years.  Buy my book. I think I’ve just killed my own chances of ever getting a trade contract, but the truth is the truth. Heck, even stock holders get to vote. Readers might not own stock, but there would be no publishing company stock without readers. Feel your power yet? Hit me with your comments and use the social buttons below.

My disclaimer: I became an Amazon Affiliate two days ago, when I put up the Amazon search box. I’ve also self published. I don’t claim to be a book gate keeper and I’ve never been paid to be one.


6 thoughts on “Readers United! Time for a Union?

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