Monday, May 18, 2009

Entitled to Feedback?

First off, let me say....

Happy Birthday to Me!

Now for the rest of the post...

It's been an interesting weekend in the blogosphere. So many thought-provoking posts were written that I want to write about, and now I'm now torn on what to talk about here today. I guess the best thing to do is to begin at the beginning and do a post each day until I've written myself out.

Friday night esteemed agent Jennifer Jackson wrote a post during her weekly Letters from the Query Wars, which basically addressed the entitlement mentality some writers have. In it, she leapfrog's off a Neil Gaiman post where he takes issue with the same mentality in readers. It seems some readers feel like they're entitled to the next book in the series, and they want it NOW. Likewise, some writers feel like they're entitled to a lenghty response to their query letters. Both sets of people get pissy when their entitlements aren't met.

I'd go on to talk about the growing entitlement mentality in America, but that would take too long and end up in a full-blown rant. Needless to say, it all stems from the same basic flawed premises (see the comment made by siebendach - whoever he/she is, they said what I was thinking). But let's not go there.

Instead let's think about what we are entitled to as queriers. The answer, though some people may not like it, is nothing. We send our little letters off, and no matter how hard we've worked on them or how much blood we've put into our novels, agents don't owe us a damned thing. A response would be nice. Some comments about what they liked or didn't like would be wonderful. But we aren't entitled to them.

Or if you want to look at it from the reader standpoint... Readers get a little more actual entitlement because they paid good money for the book, but what they're entitled to still falls way short of the things some people believe they deserve. A reader is entitled to have a well-written book in exchange for his time and money. That's it. One book per entitlement, please. He isn't entitled to the next book, or to a slew of blog posts, or a friendship via email, or even a friggin bookmark. He's not entitled to an autograph or an inscription - although some authors choose to do so.

Think about the difference there. Queriers have nothing to base their entitlement on. In the scheme of things, they have nothing of value to balance. Maybe after a full or partial, they have the future potential of becoming a client, so it might behoove an agent to provide feedback, but at the early stage, they don't even have that. Readers at least have cash to put up on the other side of the equation.

If a reader buys a book, and it fails to provide what its half of the trade, then the reader can withhold his money from future books by that author. If enough readers decide they didn't get what they deserved (i.e. a good book), the next book's sales will falter and the author eventually fades into obscurity.

If a writer sends a query and doesn't get feedback, they can withhold future queries, but that's like cutting off your nose to spite your face. A published author needs money. An agent doesn't need your query. In fact, they'll never miss your query if you choose to snub them. They get thousands every year. Your missing query might give them a couple extra minutes to read the next query and sign that author.

In a way, it's sad to see this growing entitlement mentality hit here. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but stuff like this always catches me unawares. I never would've assumed I was entitled to feedback, just like I never assume I'm entitled to the next book by an author. I'm dying for the next Lords of the Underworld from Gena Showalter, and I may joke about her hurrying up because I'm DYING, but I would never presume to berate her for whatever length of time writing that book will take.

Sure, it would be nice if we always get what we wanted when we wanted it, but you know the old saying: People in Hell what icewater, but it doesn't mean they're going to get it. I want the agent who's had my full for a year to respond and tell me my manuscript got lost behind a desk while she was away, and would I please forgive her for ignoring my future bestseller.

Icewater anyone?

1 comment:

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You are entitled to a fabulous day. ;o)