The Author’s Pledge

If you’re a traditional, self-published, or indie author, raise your right hand and repeat after me.

I am an author.
I am a professional.
I will have my work edited before it is published.
I will never argue with a reviewer about their opinion of my work.

Most likely, you’ve already made this pledge without realizing it. If you have, awesome. If you haven’t, it’s time to think about how the world sees you. This past weekend, I went looking for additional sites where I could submit my books for review. I found a growing number of sites are declining self-pubbed books, citing either poor editing or poorly behaving authors as the reason.

Here’s the thing, folks. As writers, we can’t be the editor of our own work. We’re too close to it. We’ll miss things. An editor can help you find those weak spots in your work and shore them up, as well as catch any spelling or grammatical errors.

As for poor behavior, we need to accept that not everyone will like our work. That’s just the way of things. Pick your favorite book by your favorite author and then check out that book’s reviews on Amazon. Guaranteed you’ll find 1 star reviews there, written by someone who thinks this book you love is the biggest piece of crap that was ever penned.

That’s one person’s opinion. Sure, it’s disappointing, but you never argue with someone about it. I racked my brains trying to think of a time when a writer would be justified in arguing with a reviewer. The only thing I could come up with was if the reviewer said they hated your book because of the puppy eating robot in chapter 7, and your book doesn’t have a puppy eating robot. In that case, I think an author would be justified in sending off a short note saying, “Hi, thanks for reading, but I think you’ve got me confused with someone else.” But if the reviewer says they don’t like your book because of the plot, because they didn’t like the way you developed your characters, or anything subjective like that, you don’t say a freaking word to them about it.

To the reviewers out there, thank you all for reading. Whether you love or hate my books, I appreciate that you took the time to read them.

For the writers, have you taken the pledge? Sound off in the comments.

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6 Responses to The Author’s Pledge

  1. Ellen says:

    Well said, Nicholas! I spent a few weeks researching viable book review bloggers for self-pub authors, and was flabbergasted to discover how many reviewers won’t accept self-pub books for the reasons you mentioned. It’s one of those cases where one bad egg can spoil the whole dozen. Thanks for speaking out about it.

  2. Lindsay B says:

    Yes, it’s sad how many indie authors behave poorly in response to reviews. Even if you throw things around your house, geez, don’t do anything on the internet where there’ll be a public record of it for all eternity.

    One of the things I like about writing workshops is that you get critiqued by your peers, and sometimes teachers too. You may think you’re da bomb going in, but some of those people will tear you a new…well, they’ll offer you plenty of advice and, in the process, you tend to learn that you’re not quite as awesome as you thought you were, at least when it comes to writing. And your skin toughens a bit along the way (or you quit).

    If you self-publish without ever having had anyone tear apart your work (friends and relatives don’t count), it can be a real shock to the system to read a bad review. Some authors suck it up and learn from the experience, but others react badly… very badly.

    • Nicholas says:

      Writers’ workshops are a great way to build up that thick skin. It’s hard for us to hear that people don’t like what we’ve created, especially when you’ve put a lot of effort into the book. Just the same, all writers need to be able to handle criticism professionally. It only takes one blow up to ruin a reputation.

  3. ERP says:

    Say it loud, Nick. The funny thing is, well, OK, it’s not really funny, but there have been quite a few big six published authors who flew off the handle, too. (In January 2012) I hate the self-published stigma.
    But I agree, 100% to have your book edited by someone else. A professional. When I look at my work, I gloss over issues, because I know what message I am trying to convey, or how it should be.

    I love when others give me feedback, and real opinions. I asked my beta readers, point blank ” What did you hate about my book?”
    :dies laughing: You should have heard them sputter. I had to coax them into being completely honest with me. Otherwise, how could I make my book better? I don’t want to publish a sub-par, confusing, plot-hole-ridden piece of crap…you know?

    Anyway. Bravo


    • Nicholas says:

      Thanks, E! As writers, we want to hear good stuff about our work, but we need to hear the bad stuff. That’s what needs fixing, after all. 🙂

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