Today I have been enjoying working on a draft of my book How to Make the New Testament Come Alive! Whenever an author writes a book, he takes it upon himself to give an IOU to the reader.
By the time the reader gets to the last page, this IOU must be paid in full. So at this stage of editing, I am asking myself one primary question: Am I delivering to the reader what I have promised him? If I claim that I have given him a guide to reading, interpreting, and applying the New Testament, have I truly done this? A book can be good and still have never paid off the IOU. I think writing is a bit of "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" and "Know which side your bread is buttered on." We owe it to our readers to deliver on what we promise. In the end, it comes down to respect, perhaps on both sides -- that of the producer and the consumer. At the very least, authors shouldn't be jerks to their readers simply because they have built, if you will, a fan base. On the other hand, writing inauthentically because you only care about your fans or your book sales isn't morally acceptable. I believe authors do have a responsibility to fulfill the promises they make in their title and in their introduction. An author owes their readers the very best they are capable of at the time (obviously a debut writer won't be as good as someone who has written a lot).
Knowing a good book when you see one and crafting a good book ex nihilo are two very different things. That's why the next step will be sending the manuscript to external readers. I happily accept feedback from almost anywhere, reserving the right to disregard what I don't find constructive.