I have the privilege of offering support and feedback to many authors who query me through my site or through other avenues. Some of you have probably even acted as beta readers, proof reviewers, or been asked for honest (even brutal) feedback. I appreciate it all–which is why I’m so ready to offer assistance to others.
The blogs that come out over at the CSPA often mirror many of my feelings. A recent blog chronicles the struggle of a new comer to the industry who asked for feedback, but really just wanted to hear “this is the best new thing since sliced milk!”
The author insisted that he did not want to change the font he chose for his title—that he liked it. He stated that he liked the interior layout because he had envisioned such a layout for a larger landscape book (however, this book was a traditional smaller portrait paperback). He kept insisting that he liked what he had done.
I suggested that if he had just published the book for himself and his family, that liking what he had chosen was perfectly acceptable and sufficient. However, if he wanted to sell this book beyond his small circle, as he had indicated to me, then he needed to make the book industry standard.
I’ve written about this before, but are you a writer or an author? I don’t feel they are necessarily always synonyms. Know your writing goals: ask the tough questions before you pick your publishing path, and even then, revisit the questions regularly along the way. Are you writing to be read by other people (author) or are only producing a book for your own pleasure (writer)?
Refusing to take quality advice (or try to see through the lens that seasoned professionals look through) typically means you are writing for your own enjoyment. There’s nothing wrong with that, but lets not kid anybody, you don’t have some secret idea as an undiscovered writer that will demolish a hundred years of publishing standards (for example, I recently turned down a book review request that was center formatted. I don’t know that it was intentional, but to be taken serious in this industry you are only allowed to color outside of the lines a little bit… use that freedom to engage in creative writing, not being clever with fonts, formats, graphics, or layouts.
Readers have certain expectations. Failing to meet those means you’ve failed to be a real author. You can do it, just put in a little more effort. It will be worth it at the end–I promise!