Situations Where Authors Can’t Win

Today I thought I’d make a post describing certain situations where authors are stuck between a rock and a hard place.  No matter how they answer the question, they can’t win.  So what ends up happening?  They keep quiet.

Today, I’m going to address this on this blog, so hopefully, you can understand why we just can’t answer you.  We aren’t trying to be mean by not replying.  We just know that no one will be happy with how we answer it, so the safest recourse we have is to not answer.

Don’t you take the time to hire an editor/proofreader?

The answer is: yes.  Of course, we do.  We care very much about producing a high quality book.  Self-publishing isn’t what it used to be.  Sure, there are still a few badly edited books out there, but most of them will be very professional.  If they aren’t, those authors won’t be around long.  This is a business that requires authors to put out the very best they can if they want to be around for a long time.

The problem is that no one can catch 100% of the errors.  I do think it’s especially important that the author isn’t the only one editing and proofing their own book.  Authors are blind to their work because they will read what is supposed to be there instead of what actually is there.  That’s why we hire an editing team.  This team comprises of editors, proofreaders, and beta readers.  I have all of these.  Do they catch everything?  No.  Do they come close.  Definitely.

I am very happy with the group of people I have working on my books.  I plan to keep them on my team for as long as they’re willing to be on it.  I never take it for granted that they take time out of their busy days to help me, especially since my schedule is demanding.  I am constantly bombarding them with books to go over before I publish them.

From time to time, authors will ask others for good people to work on their books, and we exchange names and email addresses.  Just like people exchange information on books they enjoy, authors do pass on information if they like a certain member of their editing team.  So we rely heavily on word of mouth.  The people we’re most likely to pass on are those who’ve been good to us in the past.

Why do you write such sucky books?

Authors don’t write books they think will suck.  We write books we think will be enjoyable to those who read them.  The majority of authors I talk to are passionate about their work, and they give 110% into the story.  To them, the story doesn’t suck.

Now, it would be fair to say that the particular story the author wrote was not to a certain reader’s enjoyment.  Taste is highly subjective.  For example, some people love alpha heroes.  They want strong men who aren’t afraid to go in and get what they want.  I write beta heroes.  They are strong on the inside, but they are gentle on the outside.  This can come off as a sign of weakness.  People who like alphas will find my heroes wimpy.

Everyone comes to a book with their own preferences.  No author can please everyone.  It’s impossible.  So why do we write sucky books?  The answer is, “We wrote a book you think sucked.” It doesn’t mean the book is sucky to someone else.

I encourage you to take a look at a popular traditionally published book.  It could be anything.  Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight, Harry Potter…  Just make sure it’s a book that the majority of people know exists.  Check out the 1-star reviews.  I guarantee you that every major book has a group of people who thought it sucked.  No author is immune to this, no matter how popular they are.

Why are you so greedy that you charge a price for your book?  

I only bring this up because this question seems to get asked with authors more than any other.  Forgive me for being redundant since I’ve already addressed this on this blog.  I’ll try to make it brief.

When an author writes a book, they either put it in with a publisher or publish it on their own.  I do both.  The publisher sets the price.  Publishers have costs they need to cover, and since they must stay in business, they need to make a profit.  To do that, they need money.

Now, when a book is self-published, the author bears the weight of paying for the editing team, paying for covers (unless they can make their own), and they pay taxes.  Authors will pay taxes if under publishers who don’t take the taxes out for them, too.  We need to make money to cover these expenses.  Some authors are also trying to provide for themselves or their families with the money they earn.

Authors aren’t trying to be selfish by putting a price on the book.  Like you, they need to survive, and you can’t survive without the necessities like food, water, shelter, and clothes.  It’s not that money is the most important thing to us.  We write because we have a story burning inside of us to write.  But to think we can live off of praise alone just isn’t true.  People work because they want money in order to survive.  Writing just happens to be the form of work we’ve chosen.


I’ll just conclude this post by saying writing is hard work.  The process of making a book isn’t easy.  So much goes into it.  From the conception of an idea to the time it’s published, there are a lot of steps most people never see.  It might take a day to read a book, but that book wasn’t written and polished in one day.

Authors have their critics, and that’s fine.  I feel that people should be free to express their opinions about the books they read.  I just wanted to explain why we can’t answer certain questions you ask.  It’s not that we don’t care.  We do.  We’d like to answer every question we receive.  We just know there are some questions that aren’t safe to answer because no matter what we say, we can’t win.  So instead of answering, we write the next book.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to
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10 Responses to Situations Where Authors Can’t Win

  1. Shelley Chastagner says:

    Bravo Ruth! Well said.

  2. Wow, it’s so greedy of Walmart to want to charge us for stuff. We ought to be able to walk out of there with everything free! That’s the same thing as expecting an author to make all their books free. This kind of thinking irritates me to no end. Why do some people not understand that writing is a business like everything else. You pay to produce the goods. Then you charge for those goods and try to make a profit. That’s the way business works. 🙂 It also gets under my skin that people will pay a high price for a Starbucks coffee, but they will balk at a $2.99 price for a book. That book lasts a lot longer!

    • There was a Facebook discussion with an argument over whether authors should be paid for their books. One person commented, “What’s the harm in piracy? The author already makes enough money.”

      I think the perception is that every writer is making a comfortable living off of their books. This is sadly reinforced by all of the posts and articles we hear about the few authors who have made it big in the publishing world. Because of this, people assume we’re all making the same as HM Ward, Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking, and John Locke.

      Rarely do they hear about writers who are struggling to make ends meet because those authors are told, “It’s your fault you’re not making more money because you’re not using ___________ marketing strategy. If you would just do X or Y right, you would be a success.” Or, if authors admit they aren’t that much, few people will pass on the information so the general person will be informed of the reality of this business.

      So I think, in part, the lack of information is to blame for this. But there are those who do realize we’re trying to pay our bills with this money and don’t care because they don’t value the work we put into the books.

  3. Rose Gordon says:

    I totally agree with Lauralynn about the coffee vs. the book. Even a movie vs. a book. Around here, people pay $8.50-$13 per movie ticket (or $5.00 – $25.00 for a DVD) and don’t bat an eyelash. Books last longer than both and yet, there is an expectation (by some–not all or even most) that they should be free.

    Keep writing! I’ve loved all of your books.

    • I’ve had a couple of people email me and say they couldn’t afford to buy my $0.99 or $2.99 books. Then I saw on FB that they paid for a movie that just came out or bought a traditionally published ebook that was $7.99. I don’t believe anyone anymore when they tell me they are so strapped for cash that they can’t afford my “expensive” books. I do think they assume I make so much money that I don’t need an extra $0.35 or $2 royalty off the sale of one of my books because of the perception that authors are rich. So they see no harm in asking for a free book. That is why I try to educate them whenever possible on the realities of this business. It’s nothing at all like it’s portrayed in the movies, and not all of us are Hugh Howey or HM Ward.

  4. Joe says:

    I hate that last question. So many people expect free things in life and it’s ridiculous. Everyone has to make a living and writing is how you make yours. You don’t owe the world anything, why should you just give away something you worked so hard on. You wouldn’t walk to a store and demand free groceries! I also happen to think that your books are very reasonably priced and I gladly spend the money. As a fan I want to see you be successful and be rewarded for the hard work you put into your books.

    • Thank you. That means a lot to me. 🙂

      I got the image of walking into my grocery store and telling the cashier the food in my cart should be free, and I got a good laugh out of how they would respond. They’d think I was nuts.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Seriously? Selfish to charge for your trade? Wake up people! Do you go to work and tell your boss, it’s okay, I don’t need a paycheck? I rolled my eyes big time at that last question. I’m thankful for the occasional “free book”, it’s introduced me to some new authors that I throughly enjoy reading. It’s a shame that you have to take time to answer knuckleheads like that. I’ve enjoyed every one of your books that I’very read so far (which has been many), and hope to enjoy many more in the future! 🙂

    • Thank you. I very much appreciate the fact that you’ve stuck with me all this time. 🙂

      I think offering a couple of free books is a good way to let people know what my writing style is, so I certainly don’t mind doing it. And as a reader, I like getting a sample of the author’s work so I know whether or not the author is a good fit for me. But yeah, an author can’t pay bills if every book is free. Sometimes when I see a movie or TV show that features an author who’s living in a fancy house with a fancy car, I laugh. I live in a doublewide trailer and drive ten-year-old cars. My life, and the lives of most authors, aren’t like what someone sees on TV. 🙂

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