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Friday, 4 November 2011

Indie Writers – Deluded or Undiscovered

I often ask this question, not because I’m trying to be clever or cruel but because I’m to trying to understand what drives us to keep writing, when critical acclaim is all but impossible.
Thousands of us will be typing away on our keyboards directing our ideas and ranting at the world in our own special way, many of us numerous books down the line.
Maybe when we write we consider what people think of us. Perhaps we simply try to challenge ourselves but mostly when we’re done, we really hope someone will read it and like it. I’ve talked before understanding criticism so no point going over that but perhaps in this case we need to understand praise.
People are polite and most (unless they are acutely rude) will tell you they enjoyed your book whether they read it all or not. People don’t want to be harsh as a rule and many will try to be tactful in pointing out the odd flaw in order to validate their praise and still come out the nice guy. I know because I often do this when reading the work of someone I like but don’t wish to offend. Maybe it would do us good to hear what people really think with all the niceties of friendships removed. I recall one of my colleagues when drunk telling me my book was a load of old tosh at the same time as wishing me well with it. I did refrain from emptying the contents of my drink over his head but it did make the point to me that whilst I know some people genuinely did enjoy my work, not everyone will.
The point of all this is to say that most of us as Indie Authors don’t have access to real critics. Our only major critic is usually the formal publishing industry which has given us a wide berth which may be for many reasons and not all to do with quality. So we are left with our friends and contacts and perhaps the odd stranger who has found our work and chooses to review it on Amazon.
Where does this leave us? Are we obliged to help our Indie Author friends and tell them when things are so bad that maybe they should go back to writing school and not throw any more cash down the self-publishing toilet? Or do we just say to all Indie Authors, write what you will; the market will find its own level.
I guess it’s the old ‘does my bum look big in this?’ discussion and only you as the friend of an Indie Author will chose to answer yes or no. It may indeed come down to what you expect in return for your lack of sincerity.
Are we deluded? No I don’t think so, but if you really want to know whether your writing is any good, and you genuinely want to learn, then join a writing group where people will give genuine and constructive comments. You will never regret it. There are many of them, some free, some funded. It just so happens I can recommend a free one Writers Cave as I run it.
It’s a small internet group with members from all over the world who taught me that sometimes I write good things, sometimes not so good, but nowadays I write less of the latter. That makes so much difference to confidence when someone asks you whether you are a writer and you can answer, yes, and quite a good one actually.

© S.G.Norris

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