Let me preface this by saying, I love beginner writers. Writers with that beautiful glow of inspiration. The sparkle in their eyes of hope and the faith that they will succeed. I wish I could bottle that energy and drink it every day! But I also see the other side of that as well.
So many times I get writers who will ask, “Will you read this and tell me what you think?” But this isn’t what they really mean, what they mean is, “Will you read this and tell me it’s amazing?” This isn’t just new writers who say this, but seasoned writers as well. I can tell pretty quick which writers are asking me to look at it because they really do want the truth and those that want to be patted on the back. Those who know me know I am a pat on the back while I stab you in the heart person. I will Never be mean, but I will always be honest.
As artists we have to have thick skin. We take what is in our imaginations and we put it on display for the world to criticize and rip apart. It takes a thick skin to do that because not everyone is going to love us. Not everyone is going to understand us. Hell, not everyone is even going to think we have enough brain cells to create art! And when this happens we need to take an honest look at the criticism and see if there is any merit to it or if we need to just move on.
To me, here are ten ways you need to hear the truth as an artist, whether or not you want to hear it.
- Do what you love. If you do what you love, it doesn’t matter if no one else likes it, you still have something you love at the end of the day.
- Don’t do it all yourself! I wrote an article on being a one woman show. Read it! And don’t do it! You need an editor. You may not think you do, but you do! You need someone to tell you what you can do better. If you don’t have the money, then wait to publish until you do! Seriously, you need an editor.
- There will always be someone better than you. It’s the truth. Get used to it. And then keep going forward because only you can tell your stories and even some of the best athletes in the world weren’t born natural stars. They worked their butts off to train and get there. As an artist, you need to as well. So don’t give up just because someone else is better – do the best you can and be yourself.
- Keep your mouth closed. There are very few artists out there that can say everything they want to on social media and NOT get themselves blacklisted for it. The writing world is small. Everyone knows someone who knows someone. If you don’t have something nice to say, keep it to yourself. That’s not to say you can’t have an opinion, you can, but if you want to be seen as a professional you need to act like a professional.
- It takes money to make money! Unless you are just writing or drawing for the fun of it and you don’t care if you ever make a dime, this is a business. And in business, you have to spend money to make money. Imagine you decided to open a restaurant. You wouldn’t just open the doors and tell people, here is an already prepared plate with some eggs on it. Give me your money and then I’ll buy some bacon to put on it next time. No one would do that, and you shouldn’t either. If you aren’t willing to put some money behind your work for a good cover and great editing and formatting and marketing then you are just putting things out there because you love to write and you aren’t serious about wanting to make money. Like any business, you have to invest in yourself and make your product the best it can be, otherwise, people won’t come back.
- You must market!! This is the one I hate the most honestly. It’s time-consuming and it isn’t fun – but it is necessary. When I market and do promo I sell- on average- ten times more books per day than if I don’t. It is a necessary evil whether you are traditionally published or indie. It doesn’t matter. With the millions of books out there that readers are swimming through you have to make yours stand out and it’s getting harder and harder to do that. Which makes marketing even that much more important now. So do it!
- Your pretty baby isn’t that pretty, and it isn’t unique. Three years ago when I came up with the idea for my Fairelle series I was so excited. Fairytale Retellings? AWESOME! All set in the same world? I ROCK!! Yeah, well, in the last three years the market has been flooded with like-minded people. You may have a good book. You may even have a great book, but you probably do not have an amazing book sorry to say, and it isn’t a unique special snowflake. There are at least a hundred other people in the world with the same idea. That’s just how things are. My fairytale retellings rock! And they are different. But there are better out there and there are more unique ones as well. It’s life.
- Be nice on your way up and even nicer when you’re at the top! So many times you see an artist who is sweet as candy when they are on their way up because they need help and want to make connections and that is great, but it’s when they are at the top that you see their true colors. Do they stay sweet and help others on their way up or do they snub those that they not so long ago used to be like? Again, people talk and the world is a small place. Being someone small and helping people goes a long way, but it goes even further when you are on the top because remember, no one is on top forever.
- You will get writer’s block and it sucks! I was three years in and almost eighteen books written before I got writer’s block. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did and it sucks! Prepare for the day when it might happen and do what you can before hand to prevent it. Take breaks. Relax. Do things for yourself. Remember, being an author is not a sprint it’s a marathon. A lot of those totally famous authors weren’t famous until six, ten, fifteen years in. It took years of hard work to get where they are, so don’t kill yourself in the first two!
- No one owes you anything. We would all like to think we put in our dues and we are now owed success, or friends, or admiration, or sales, or whatever, but the truth is, we aren’t owed a dang thing. The successful are there because they worked hard. They positioned themselves to where good things could happen for them. They got out there and hustled to make friends and connections with the right people. They kept their mouths shut. They were nice to everyone. They knew they could do better and be better and they kept working and learning and growing. So if you want what they have, do what they did. Dig deep and work for it!
I’m sure a lot of these opinions are not appreciated. That’s okay. I love you and I want you to succeed so I am patting you on the back while stabbing you in the heart. Why? Because we all need a dose of reality, with a spoon full of love and admiration 🙂