Hello again! So far, we’ve talked about two habits for highly effective authors: 1. Writing Every Day and 2. Learning about the Industry/Business side of publishing
Are you ready for habit number three?
3. Highly effective authors learn how to handle criticism.
I've been a member of many critique groups over the years, and there's always one or two (or more) members who expect everyone to love their work. Any "negative" (meaning less than glowing) comment is met with a defensive (or hostile) rebuttal. This works against them in the long run, and puts them at a huge disadvantage later. How?
A. Because critique partners will sooner or later either learn to dance around the truth or give up critiquing altogether. That robs the writer of an opportunity to learn.
B. Because a writer with very thin skin will often have a hard time accepting edits if she/he sells. That will put a strain on his/her relationships with future agents and editors.
Highly effective authors know they'll be criticized on many fronts if their work is ever published. Critique partners. Editors. Agents. Readers. Reviewers. They have no choice but to develop a thick skin. They quickly learn the value of honest and constructive feedback, particularly when it’s coming from a reliable source…and before the book is in print and it’s too late to make changes.
Now, my personal critique partner horror story: I have to admit, I was clueless when I started writing. I was sure EVERYONE would love everything I’d written when I first started. But, thanks to a (now defunct) site called iPublish, which was somewhat similar to Gather’s First Chapter contests, my delusions were quickly squelched. Not everyone loved my work. Some did, yes. But others didn’t “get” it. And some hated it. “Why do you need demons in a romance story?” “Your scenes are overwritten.” and there was the “You don’t know what the hell you’re doing. Go back to kindergarten and learn how to write.”
Did those criticisms hurt? You bet! And (of course) I often felt they were dead wrong. But I learned, after selling and reading my first bad review, that it was better to hear about the bad BEFORE the book was in print, rather than after.
I now embrace the critic. Are they sometimes wrong? Maybe. But I tend to see some truth in every bit of criticism I read of my work. And I take those grains of truth and apply them, hoping the next book will be better.
Remember, it might take one editor to love a story for your book to be published. But it’s going to take thousands of readers to love a story for you to sell your next book.
Learn from the criticism you receive. Grow. Challenge yourself. Resist the urge to post any kind of defense of your work...and be a Highly Effective Author.
Anyone care to share their critique partner horror stories? Post them in the comments.
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