On Bookends’ blog, agent Jessica Faust said, “When an agent tells you that something isn’t working, it’s typically not because you’ve decided to break whatever rules you think exist in this business, it’s because it’s not working. A character not being likeable enough usually means that readers didn’t like her. Now, sure it’s possible another reader might have another opinion, but it’s also possible that in your attempt to make her tough and damaged, you’ve made her unlikeable.”
As a freelance editor, I can relate to Jessica’s statement. There are times when a writer simply isn’t ready to receive REAL feedback. This often happens when she finishes her first or second manuscript and is convinced this book is going to make her famous. The writer jumps right in and starts querying, expecting nothing but praise from anyone who reads her soon-to-be bestseller. Most writers have experienced those same feelings. Who doesn’t want positive feedback? However, not all writers react the same way once they don’t get the praise they were expecting. Be very careful what you post on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or any other internet site. You never know who is reading and, once it’s out there, you have no control where that nasty remark might land. Bashing the wrong agent could affect your career, especially if the agent was only being honest. Other agents may read what you wrote and decide you’d be too difficult to work with. Publishing is a small community, and with the internet, nothing’s private anymore. Think twice before you post something negative about another person in the industry.
The same goes for indie authors. While you’re obviously not going to approach agents, you might have gotten feedback from beta readers or reviewers. Expect to receive bad reviews. That’s a part of this industry. Not everyone is going to like your book. However, things will get personal pretty fast if you attack your reviewers or put down their reviews of your novel. I’ve seen it happen and it gets ugly. Your best bet is to refrain from commenting on that bad review and move on. Most of the time, you’ll only have a few bad reviews and people can see through those. If you have more bad than good reviews, you might want to re-examine your book. Maybe they’re right.
Have you taken the time to learn the craft or are you just winging it? Do you realize the odds of getting published are lower than they were ten years ago? Do you know how hard it is to prove yourself as an indie author? Not many writers make it very far in their career without learning the ins and outs of the craft. For example, while many writers probably believe they understand GMCs (goals, motivations, and conflicts), there are many who are mistaken. Not understanding how to use GMCs is a big deal—or rather, a deal breaker. The same goes for show—don’t tell, one or two dimensional characters, no inciting incident, lack of emotions, and so on.
Please, please, please… Do yourself a favor and learn the craft of writing BEFORE you send out your queries or self-publish. I promise you’ll receive more favorable feedback if you do.
If you need to learn about GMCs, Debra Dixon has an excellent book available through her publisher and I offer a one-on-one class to help you flesh out your characters’ GMCs. Check it out: http://labelleseditorialservices.com/classes/
How have you learned about the craft of writing? Did you take courses, read books, hire a writing coach, or what?