When I was writing my first story all I could think about was how people would love the characters. It had a kickass kid, time-travel, dinosaurs, swearing, and random acts of senseless violence.
My teacher hated it. 7 year old Matt Knott was distraught.
Then again 7 year old Matt also got stuck up a 2 foot tree. He was an idiot.
What I didn’t understand was that my teacher didn’t hate it. She just saw something in it that was beyond my years and wanted to nurture that through criticism. A few years back my mother made mention that the now retired hatemonger had asked if I’d carried on writing.
She was genuinely curious to see how I’d grown.
What many Self-Published authors tend to miss is that our readers are teachers. What we put out there is on us to make the best tales we can, but also accept that the best we can do today is not the best we can be.
Over the past couple of months I’ve seen a whole lot of Self-pub guys pushing for good reviews or only acknowledging praise.
For close to a decade I’ve worked on huge projects in gaming. They’re collaborative global efforts that I’m really proud of. I’ve learned so much and grown as both a person and a professional. When it comes to writing I wanted to go it alone. Put into practice all I’d learned over the years.
I wanted to own my growth and destiny. Have something that is completely mine.
Part of that is accepting that I’m starting out on a journey. That I need to be ready to ache and challenge myself. I’ve always loved writing. Genuinely loved it and to love a skill is to suffer for it.
Self-Publishing is a way to grow as a person and a writer. Engaging with people who have legitimate, well placed criticism is rewarding. It helps you to get to firm up your own beliefs in where you should focus on improvement.
It also guarantees that person will be invested in your journey and come back to see where their guidance has led you. Your most valuable readers aren’t those who love your words unconditionally. They’re not fans.
They’re people who saw something in your work that holds promise and encourage you to live up to that.
What you deliver should always be the highest quality you can provide and we should feel pride at what we’ve achieved. Accept the praise! Feel great about it. Just know that we can always do better and owe it to our readers to strive for growth.
That’s why I encourage everyone to take the time to write thoughtful replies to criticism and to not only acknowledge it but embrace it. Be self-aware
As writers who chose to go it alone we owe it to ourselves to be open and honest about our flaws. We owe it to our readers to live up to their expectations.
Self-Publishing can just be pure vanity projects, or it can be a place for us to hone our craft and surprise our readers and ourselves with every new page.
That old teacher is reading my first book now. I’m looking forward to my first F since I left high school.