If someone you know has just published a book—do you feel obliged to buy a copy? Even if it’s not the kind of book you’d normally read?
Short answer: No.
Of the writers I know, I can only think of one who’s published books, although this is probably because most of the writers I know are 20-somethings still trying to build their writing careers, myself included. But one of my college professors, Lori Jakiela, has published books. I bought her first memoir and some poetry chapbooks because I liked her and wanted to read them. I bought her most recent memoir because I liked everything else I read and wanted to read more. That said, due to the massive reading list I complain about a lot in these memes, I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
I hope more writers I know publish books, and as long as the content interests me, I’m open to buying them, both because I like books and reading and because supporting writers, both financially and otherwise, is important. I’d probably have to be really uninterested to avoid the book, but I wouldn’t say I feel obligated to buy it. I think there’s a level of disrespect to buying a book out of obligation, because it implies this grumbly, begrudging disinterest that you’re forced to ignore. Plus there are other ways of showing support for writers you know, like congratulating them, spreading the word about the book, etc.
As a writer who would love to publish a book some day, I would hate to think that friends and family only bought my book because they felt they had to. I’d much rather them buy it because they care about me and/or the subject matter. This even applies to my small-scale writing now–as much as I cherish and value support from loved ones, I don’t want them reading my writing because they feel they have to, and given that I write a lot about music, it would be silly. My boyfriend and best friend are good examples–I write about a lot of artists neither of them has heard of, so I can’t expect them to read every single article I put out. That said, I’m thrilled when friends who do share the interest read, and it means a lot to know someone has that interests and supports your career, especially when pageviews start turning into money. On the other side of that, it’s upsetting to write about things you know your friends would enjoy or be interested in but they don’t care or even trivialize your writing. Having my writing disregarded and put down was a huge reason why I grew really frustrated and hurt by people I really cared about.
As always, weekly meme from Booking Through Thursday.