I just read a blog post where one of the commenters stated that his readers needed to work when they read his stories. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, that he did his part in writing the story, but that he expected his readers to do their part by working to see what he wrote. Since the original post was about hurrying through the editing process to get to the next story (and thus let editing errors through to the finished product), the implication seemed to be that if this author had misspelled words and poor punctuation/grammar, then so be it. It was the reader's job to figure it out so they could understand the story and see it in their minds.
I find this attitude unbelievably appalling. An author should NEVER expect their readers to "work" to understand the story. It is the author's job to work so that the readers don't have to. The author is the one getting paid in this scenario, and as such, the onus is on the author to provide a quality product to meet the reader's expectations. The reader should simply be allowed to sit back, open their mind, and flow through an experience that is free from errors and clearly lays out the story for them.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, an author's job is to provide a reading experience to those who spend their hard-earned dollars on his or her books, and the reader's job is to simply have that experience. Errors and poorly written passages impede that experience for a reader.
When I buy a shirt, I don't expect to have to sew on the buttons or attach the sleeves before I can wear it, thus doing some "work" before I can enjoy that which I have purchased. Should my Galaxy S3 have come incomplete without all the necessary programming for me to finish before I used it? When I buy a car, is it my job to air up the tires and put oil in the engine before I drive it? So, why should a reader have to take their proverbial red pen through your manuscript as they read it in order to understand it? Why should they have to trudge through poorly written dialogue and narrative to figure out the story? Why should they have to read a passage multiple times before figuring out who's doing and saying what? Does this author's customers not deserve the best story he can give them? Is it okay to simply rush through the editing process and send out sloppy, poorly written work simply to get to the next story as fast as possible so the author can make more money?
I'll tell you what happens when you make your customers "work": They will take their business elsewhere, and you will get the reputation of a being an unprofessional, selfish (only want the money) writer. Businesses that make their customers work that hard and sell "lemons" go out of business pretty quickly.
Yes, I'm mad. When I read comments like the one this author made, it pisses me off. If an author is going to be that selfish and lazy, they have no business charging for their books, let alone writing them in the first place.
My suggestion for authors is to never scrimp and never go into writing a book with the attitude that it's the readers' job to work to figure out the story you're telling. If you expect your readers to work that hard, you do not have the right mindset of a true author and should consider hanging up the writing hat until you learn that it's an author's job to do the work, not the reader's. ALL the work.
Happy reading and writing!-D