How Much Can Readers Ask of Authors?

As authors, we ask a lot from our readers. We ask them to buy our work, enjoy it, and then leave a review. It doesn’t always happen this way, but most times it does, and it’s amazing. Even if the reader doesn’t like our work, we’re still happy that they read the book.

But can readers ever ask anything of authors?

Of course they can.

They can ask us to write the best book in our abilities. They can ask that our books take them to faraway worlds and introduces them to new and interesting characters. They can ask that we make them feel when they read our book. As an author, I’m sure you’re more than happy to supply this to the reader.

But can readers ask for more?

Can they ask for free books? Both ebooks and signed paperbacks?

Recently, I had an interaction with a newsletter subscriber. I was doing a giveaway for some of my books, and this person sent me an email to tell me about a terrible time they were having. They were losing their house and having all kinds of other issues, so they explained that I could make their day a little brighter by sending them some of my signed paperbacks.

I consider myself a kind person, and I had some extra books floating around that were copies from an old publisher. The business has since closed down, and the cover information was out of date, but the interior information was the same. Since I wasn’t going to do anything else with the books, I sent them to this particular individual.

When I sent out my next newsletter, I was having another giveaway from my Life After the Undead series. They were leftovers from the publisher that closed, but—again—the interior story was still the same. Again, I wasn’t going to do anything with them, so I wanted to get them into the hands of readers who might enjoy them.

The same individual messaged me again to let me know that the books I sent a month before had been confiscated when all of their possessions were repossessed. They asked if I could kindly send more books because they were still struggling and having a difficult time.

I didn’t have any other extra copies floating around my office like I had before, and I became suspicious of their intentions. They wanted me to forgo the giveaway and just send them the books, but I wasn’t willing to do that. I wanted to be fair to all my readers—especially since this person had already received copies. They then asked if I would be willing to send pdf versions of the books I had previously sent.

At this point, my suspicion increased further. In the emails, the person kept repeating that I should “have compassion” and help them out in their time of need. I had thought I had been compassionate and kind previously when I sent the first set of copies. Plus, why would anyone repossess books?

I went with my gut instinct that something was off with the situation and decided not to send either the pdf versions or more paperback versions. Is it possible this person was telling the truth? Absolutely. But it’s also possible they were selling my work on the internet.

This is one scenario of readers asking for something that seemed weird and off, but not all encounters are like this. I’ve had others ask me for books—friends, family, fans—and if I could swing it, I’ve sent them copies. If I couldn’t, I sent them links to where they could buy them.

In general, I don’t think it’s weird for readers to ask for things from an author. After all, you never know what the answer is until you try. And, honestly, it’s really cool to get books that have been signed by the author.

However, as the author, you have the final say with whether or not you want to send readers what they are asking for. You have to judge whether or not their intentions are noble or whether they are asking too much of you.

For the authors out there, have you ever had any of these types of requests? How did you go about handling them? How much is too much for a reader to ask of you?

I would love to know what you think! Please feel free to post in the comments or shoot me an email if you’d like to share your story privately!

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