February 15, 2018 by Carmel
He messaged me to say that if he only charged $5 then he wouldn’t make enough profit. Hmm, profit before prophet?
As well as being a writer, I am also a prolific reader and on occasion I am asked to review books. I do this happily as reviews are so important to writers. They can give potential readers some insight into the quality of writing, the storyline and how the characters unfold, to help them decide whether or not to spend their money buying the book.
I have found some wonderful books from talented writers over the years, but occasionally I am presented with a publication that just isn’t ready for public consumption, and that creates a dilemma for me. I want to provide constructive feedback to help the author, but I don’t want to mislead readers by giving a star rating that I don’t feel is warranted. While I want to help new writers improve their craft, I have a responsibility to readers to give an honest appraisal, no matter how hard it may be for the author to read.
I was presented with such a publication recently. I say ‘publication’ because, despite what the author believed, the 45-page e-publication was little more than a pamphlet for which he charged $3. The publication had a religious mission, and consisted of Bible quotes and a series of statements. I searched to find the writer and contacted him to ask what authority he was speaking from as the author of the book. Was he a student of theology or a preacher? This wasn’t made clear in his author biography on amazon. I also made mention of the fact that I thought $3 was too much to charge for a 45-page e-book (which was really a pamphlet) when you could buy a substantial novel for the same price.
The author responded to my enquiry to say that he was attached to a church and that he had been called to do God’s work. He said he believed that the publication was a novel, but he would take into consideration that the price of the e-book may be too high. He then asked me how much I thought he should charge for the print version. I said I couldn’t imagine that he could charge any more than $5. He messaged me to say that if he only charged $5 then he wouldn’t make enough profit. Hmm, profit before prophet?
At this stage I have decided not to publish a review. It really isn’t a dilemma at all. This publication is not something that I can endorse. It has nothing to do with its religious content – I am well acquainted with God and have broken a couple of the Ten Commandments, but by and large I live a moral life. I can’t endorse it because these sorts of ‘books’ – with very little content and over-priced – are flooding the market and making it harder for talented authors to get noticed.
It takes years to learn and hone the craft of writing. Not everyone can do it successfully. An author’s only responsibility is to his readers. If you expect to enter the publishing industry, and have people buy your book, you need to give them a good product and value for money. Throwing a few words together, slapping on an over-inflated price, calling yourself an author and letting your ego guide you will not lead to the desired fame and fortune.
I support the many hard-working authors who spend time and effort to write books, and I wish them every professional and financial success. For those who only have dollar signs in their eyes, don’t give up your day job.