Readers Owe Writers Approximately Zip Nada Zero

Ah, memes.

I love you, memes, I do.

Surly pets! Tubby children chasing bubbles! Various hedgehogs!

I fucking love hedgehogs.

Which is different from “I love fucking hedgehogs,” by the way, so don’t get it twisted.

Anyway.

One such meme going around has appeared in multiple guises, the latest (and it’s really not that recent, but I see it pop up again and again) is The Care and Feeding of an Author, and you know, I totally appreciate the sentiment. We’re authors. It seems like we can barely take care of ourselves. (“Did you shower? Did you forget to eat today? Are you even wearing underpants? YOU NEED TO BREATHE, STUPID AUTHOR.”) And we are genuinely allowed to exist because of readers. Not publishers. Not distributors like Amazon. At the end of the day all that matters are that we have readers who support the hell out of us, helping us and our books find other readers. Like some kind of imaginary story virus that transmits via recommendation instead of sneeze.

I just want to clarify that, while we appreciate it, you don’t owe us anything.

Really.

You’re not obligated to care for us or feed us. That’s not the kind of relationship we have. I appreciate it. Certainly if you like a book I want you to be enlivened enough to share the book with others in whatever way you feel excites you best. But I want you to share it because you want to share it, not because of some idea that you’re obligated, that it’s your responsibility.

I mean, damn, the menu of actions you must undertake to do to care and feed us in that list is pretty intense. I don’t even do all those things and I love me some books and some authors. It’s like, by the time you’re done, your whole day is gone because you’ve spent hours clicking like buttons and +1s and copying links and taking out Craigslist ads and instituting sinister hallucinogenic meme viruses — that’s awfully punishing to you, the reader.

What’s next, you have to let me use your couch? Eat your food? Borrow your dog?

Warning: I will borrow your dog if you let me.

(The list is also very Amazon-specific. It assumes you buy all your books there. And, maybe you do, and that’s totally fine — you buy books however you like, by golly. But other folks buy them from bookstores or Wal-Mart or use these old things called “libraries,” which I hear are pretty awesome if you can find one OH WAIT THEY SHOULD BE EVERYWHERE.)

Seriously: fuck yeah, libraries.

Anyway.

All this is just to say, you don’t owe us anything.

Not a click, not a drink, not a buy, not a review, not a hand-job or butt-tickle or nipple-squeeze. We appreciate any attention you give us. We doubly appreciate any money you care to cart our way in trade for our storycraft. We triply appreciate you going beyond all that and using whatever means you like to share the book with other people. (Caution: please do not touch authors unless the authors ask to be touched. We’re like aquariums: don’t tap on the glass.)

You do not owe us anything.

It is we who owe you.