A Challenge for Indies

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by Precarious Yates

One of the best things about being an indie author is the whole idea of creative control. We get to tell the story we want to tell in the way we want to tell it. I tell you what, this was a major draw for me to delve into independent publishing! I didn’t want to waterdown my message to please a gatekeeper at a publishing house.

Just being honest here.

And while I’m on the honesty streak, let me spill a little more. I had critique partners, lots of them, but I ignored the tougher ones in the early days. My skin was pretty thin and I was rather delicate. To put it mildly.

Actually, my skin was so thin, and my ego so delicate, my husband asked me to stop submitting my writing for a few months after my reaction to some stronger critiques. The emotional toll on me was too hard on my family. And it’s why I often write about bedside manner when it comes to critiquing the work of others. If you’re going to critique someone’s work, and you have the inkling that the writer is green or even slightly sensitive, tell them more compliments than criticisms. And if you can’t find something to build up, have the decency to pass the work on to someone who can. New writers have too much of themselves bound up in their work. New writers want to know the surgeon (editor/critique partner) will come along with a scalpel instead of a chainsaw.

But enough about that. This isn’t a post about giving critiques, it’s about receiving them. And seeking out those who will challenge us to be the best storytellers we can be.

I remember feeling the tension, after I recovered from the wounds of the harsh criticisms. I wanted input to make my novel the best it could be. But the people I knew who would give the best input had some rather, lets say, less than pleasant bedside manner. Some people can handle comments like, “It’d be better if you used this for fireplace kindling and started from scratch.” I’m not one of those! But critiquers like that often had poignant questions and suggestions that, if I listened to them, would help my writing become the best it could be.

I bemoaned my sales. I sighed as my reviews didn’t come in. Cried when the paid promotions yielded -40% at best. But I wasn’t ready to listen. Until I realized I wanted to continue on in this increasingly saturated field of creative/fiction writing. I could quit, or I could get better.

And getting better meant that I had to listen to those surgeons who sounded like they wielded chainsaws.

I could hear the whirring already.

But when I prayed, and I listened to what they had to say, I finally heard what I needed to hear. Even if they said things that I really didn’t want to hear. Like, “If you say this it will say that about God.” Ugh. Not what I want to hear. Or, “This reads creepy. Not creepy good, but just creepy, as in a total turn off.” Not my favorite kind of comment, but OH SO HELPFUL!

Indies—it takes a team to put out a fantastic work. That team isn’t visible when the reader buys the book, but it’s because of that team, those who give input on content, characters, covers, blurbs, and even for the author photo, it’s because of that team that readers are drawn in. 

How do we find viable creative sounding boards and critique partners on a limited budget?

Swap work. Can you make covers? Make covers for someone who can edit! Are you great at writing blurbs? Help someone who is awesome at creating unique, believable characters.

Indie doesn’t have to mean “alone”. It means we have different gatekeepers. And since readers are the gatekeepers of a sustained career, we have the obligation to provide them an excellent product. Don’t close your ears to those who could help make your book the best it could be. It could save years of heartache.

Trust me. 

Keep up that good work of writing!

God bless you! 

Precarious Yates

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.


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