The Privileged Writer

I read something recently that I’ve done a lot of thinking about. No, it wasn’t a story or anything in the newspaper. It was someone declaring that readers should feel privileged to read his work.


I think he got it wrong. I think it’s the other way around. He should feel privileged that readers would want to read his work.

As usual, I’m getting ahead of myself.

This man made a comment that is so much like a lot of salespeople these days. [SIDE NOTE: Not all salespeople have the mentality I am about to speak of, but many do. END SIDE NOTE] There is a mentality with salespeople to, well, sale things. That’s what they do. I think we can all agree on that, right? Here’s where some of them are good and some of them are maybe not as good: Most sales people only care about the customer through the end of the sale. Once the sale is done, the customer is pretty much just a dollar sign. It’s business. Onto the next customer. Or better yet, onto the next dollar sign.

But wait, what if the customer has contracted the services of the salesperson for a period of time? Instead of an item, the salesperson provides a service and this service comes with a contract, thus a continual flow of money. However, what do most salespeople do when they have a contractual sale? They try to sale more than the customer needs. When a salesperson tries to sale the customer something they don’t need then it comes off as pushy or disrespectful. But some salespeople feel the customer should be happy to deal with them. Or, as the writer put it, the customer should feel privileged to be buying something from the salesperson.

Oh, please…

Here’s the problem: When a customer is nothing more than a dollar sign, the salesperson doesn’t care about them.

Keep that in mind.

I believe that everyone who provides a service to someone provides it to a customer. It doesn’t matter what the service is. If you are a mechanic, your customer is someone who needs his or her car fixed. If you are a banker, then your customer is someone who wants to take out a loan or open up a savings or checking account. If you are an attorney, your clients are your customers.

Here’s the thing about customers: if they are not happy there is a good chance they will move on to someone or something that will make them happy.

Let’s take this a step further. I have a different approach than most people do when it comes to work. If one of my co-workers comes up to me and says, ‘hey, can you help me with this?’ do you know what they become when I say ‘yes’? They become my customer. The moment I agree to do something for them, they become my customer. Yeah, that’s right. I treat my co-workers as my customers. Why not? In order for them to want to work with me—willingly, at that—I have to treat them with the same respect and courteousness I would a customer. Why? Because if they are happy with the service I provide them, then there is a better chance they will be willing to help me in the future.

You think I’m wrong? Think about it. At your job, who do you like to work with the most? Is it someone who helps you when they can or is it someone who treats you like dirt and acts like he or she is better than you? Come on. If you are honest, you want to work with people who are easy to work with and who will, in return, help you at some point.

Let’s flip this over.

Do you know what you are as a writer? You are a salesperson. You are trying to sale your work to the readers, who are your customers. But wait. There is more than just selling your work to the reader. You have to make sure the product is good to make them satisfied customers. Still, there is more. Once a reader has purchases your book, what do you do? Well, you make money, yeah. But, you also want to make sure that the book is an experience they won’t forget, that their interaction with you was a good experience. You want to give them a reason for coming back.

Wait, there is still more.

Once you get someone reading your work, how do you view them? Are they dollar signs? Do you say, ‘hey, I’m good and I’m going to raise my prices?’ Do you charge them for your autograph? Do you charge them to get in at book signings? Do you charge them for taking a photo with you?

The problem with some salespeople and some writers as well is simple: when the customer is just a dollar sign, you no longer care about them. How do you see your readers? Are they privileged to read your work, or are you privileged to have them? Do you care about them? If so, what do you do to show them that you care?

Furthermore, what do you do to get them in the first place? It’s like wooing a woman. You do all of these things to get her to notice you, but then once you have her, well those things slack off, and in many cases, they just stop all together. Then how do you show her that you care?

That’s the way it is with writers. We woo the reader into checking us out and sometimes we gain a fan or ten or a hundred (sadly, I don’t think I’ve reached that 100 mark yet). Then we don’t do much after that to keep them. Many writers don’t interact with their readers. And sometimes the ones that do, completely miss the mark.

What’s the mark, you ask?

It’s not about you, the writer, but them, the readers. The question is how much do you care about them and what do you do to show them that you care? Are you privileged to have them as readers or do you think it should be the other way around?

Just my thoughts, folks. Until we meet again, my friends, be kind to one another…