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What Do I Owe You? by Kai Strand

I just finished an interesting read. It provoked many thoughts. So many, I decided I must share. I’d love to have some conversations about it. Ironically, I am guilty of being on both sides of this discussion, and I guess that’s why it struck a chord with me.

Please read this compelling article, then return to mine:

First and foremost, you are probably aware that I am an author. You might think I’m raising a fist in the air and yelling, “Yeah, we don’t owe you squat!” But that’s not really true. Not always at least. *Snicker*

I first want to address this article from the point of view of a reader. I haven’t read the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy – or what’s currently published of it. It is on my tbr list and I’ve looked for the first book in the series from my library several times, but it’s always checked out. I have, however, had strong feelings about another series that took forever to finish. So long, as a matter of fact, I gave up on it and to this day if the author’s name or the series name is mentioned when my kids around, they snort because they know how disgruntled I became over the length of time it took for the series to conclude.

Okay, now I’m switching hats to my author side and shamefacedly admitting to having a series that is taking forever to finish. Why? Mostly because it feels like nobody cares. The books don’t sell well. My inbox and social media aren’t flooded with begging readers. And I admit, that was part of my disgruntled attitude with the series I mentioned above. If I had a best-selling series that was successful enough to allow me to write full time – I’d finish the damn series. Wouldn’t I? Right now, I have to work 40+ hours/week, grocery shop, cook, wash clothes, fold them, walk dogs, take them to the vet, water plants, see friends occasionally, and then figure out how to fit writing in. Plus, I write for middle grade, young adult, and adult audiences, so I have to prioritize which books to work on in that very small window of time. So, if a series isn’t selling and readers aren’t yammering – it likely won’t be prioritized above something that is.

What if my books suddenly started to sell well enough for me to take back that 8 ½ hours per day that I now give to my employer? I feel like I would be able to finish that book (as well as the YA trickster series I’m working on and the emotional contemporary MG I’ve wanted to finish for a million years.) But could I afford to purchase the book cover and pay for advertising? There are trade-offs to not having an income from a steady 8-5. And is it possible that my fire for the series has been put out? Maybe. But I know I am very motivated by feedback. If readers ask for something, I’m inspired to give it.

How do you feel about it? Though I’m in many minds depending on if I’m approaching it from my reader brain or my writer brain, in the end I never feel it’s okay to shame someone over their lack of production. That old adage that you attract more flies with honey comes to mind. As an author, I know that positive enthusiasm inspires me to write far more effectively than cursing at me and calling me names. Sharing with me that you love my books, or a particular series helps me to know what to write next. Telling me what you like about it – the quirky supporting character, the setting, the tension between the love interests – that all helps me to know what you’d like to see more of in my next books. But most importantly, it will make me skip the laundry chores and ask hubs to cook dinner so I can carve out more writing time – because I know my readers want MORE. Do you reach out when you want more from an author?

And finally, there was a line in the Authors Don’t Owe You Books article that resonated with me and took my mind on a journey far beyond the article in question.

“…even the most privileged people are still people.”

To me, this applies to our world today. Before we react to a situation or spew thoughts, we need to think about this. I am a product of my environment – you and your actions are included in that environment. The same holds true for you. I impact your environment and have the ability to shape you in positive or negative ways.

I feel I am a person of privilege. I’m not rich. Nothing in my life – save love and joy and self-doubt—are abundant. Yet, I don’t lack for anything either. Plus, I’m blessed with some big huge blinders to the strife others live with on a daily basis. I don’t put the blinders on intentionally, I’m just sheltered from much of it through the quiet, suburban life I live. It has always been my belief that you don’t know what you don’t know until you are made aware of it. I consider that privilege.

I try – seriously and intentionally try – to keep an open mind in order to see what others experience, both before AND AFTER I make my decisions. Why after? Because my decisions can change or be altered by new information. In my perfect world, all people would keep an open mind and civilly discuss differences in order to express why they feel the way they do – and then graciously change their decisions if they are presented with information they feel is worthy – or graciously thank the person for sharing their information if they don’t feel it is worthy of changing their mind. Because the information may become important in new ways in the future. Life and our lifestyles are ever changing, so must we be.

I hope both the article I shared, and this post are thought provoking for you. I’d love to hear what is swirling around in your head right now. Feel free to join my site to discuss it here, or email me ( so we can discuss this further.

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Kai Strand
Kai Strand
Aug 14, 2020

Sure Ann. I agree. But I don't think it plays out that clearly all of the time. I don't know the author of the Kingkiller series, but I know he battles anxiety. I wouldn't expect a book from him if it will literally hurt him to provide it. No book is that important. Are readers allowed to call him names and threaten him because he hasn't finished his series? Seems excessive to me.


For me, it comes down to this: if you tell someone you're going to do something, then you should do it. Whether it's finishing your book series (which I'm currently doing, so I know it's not easy), or paying back a debt. We should all find a way to honor our commitments.

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