Sunday, February 26, 2012

Signs of an Insecure Author

 As an author and editor, I tend to have a lot of contact with writers of all shapes and sizes, from high-wattage legends to newbies.  Each of them comes with their own strengths and weaknesses, quirks, and insecurities.  Most of my friends aren't writers.  I don't socialize with other writers.  I wouldn't be caught dead at a writers symposium or summer retreat.  Unless it was somewhere really nice.  With a lot of hot chicks.
 But let's stay on topic.
 There are two tell-tale things insecure writers do that betray them.  I see it a lot, and it was worth writing about here.  If you are an insecure writer, that's okay.  I've done both of the things I'm going to write about at various times in my life.  I don't any longer.

 1. Sending Out Work For Others To Review/Approve/Give Opinions On/ Grant Permission To BEFORE IT IS READY. 
 Nothing makes me crazier as an editor than getting a first-draft from someone who says, "Tell me if I'm on the right track with this."  Let me put it this way, if you didn't think it was good enough to invest the time and attention in the piece, than why should I?      
 I get a lot of emails from authors asking me to "look over" or "take a look at" something they're working on, an unfinished piece of writing, that they want me to render an opinion on.
 Here's my opinion:
 Charles Bukowski said he never showed anything to anyone before it was finished because it let the air out of the tires.  I agree.  It is bad for a writer to send out incomplete works.  If you get positive feedback, it might give you that quick little fix of delight that we all seek and make you less inspired to complete the task.
 If you get negative feedback, you might abort a work that would have become something much greater if you'd  only let it gestate and grow the way it is supposed to.
 Writing a story is not a work-by-committee.  You need to do the heavy lifting yourself, otherwise, you aren't training the muscles you need properly.
 Lazy writers can also fall into this trap with an over-aggressive editor.  You can get so used to the fact that no matter what you hand in, the editor is going to shred it to pieces, so you half-ass it anyway.  Likewise, with over-stepping editors who tend to go in and re-write everything.
Note: I've been on both sides of this equation.  In the early stages of Resistance Front, I was doing re-writing, not editing.  It was only after that process was finished that I saw how detrimental it was to both parties.
Bottom line: Don't ask anybody to read anything until you are done.  It's a sign of weakness, and you're better than that.  If you aren't better than that, you aren't ready to sell your work.

2. Being Afraid of Harsh Criticism by an Editor.  
 I've said it before, I'll say it again.  Your words aren't golden, sweetie.  If you want to publish professionally then you need to find an editor who will tell you what sucks.  If you can't handle that, you are too immature as a writer to consider publication.  Period.
 Think of the people who audition on American Idol or X-Factor, or anyone of those shows.  Nine times out of ten, the judges are spot on.  They say what the audience is probably saying to itself at that exact moment.  You know who doesn't see it?  The contestant.  The contestant's mom.  All the people who know and love the contestant telling them they are the next big thing.
 Do you want to be that person?
 Or do you want to be the person who is willing to work hard to get it right?
 Let me tell you this much, I would rather hear it from an editor working for me than from a reviewer who spent $2.99 on my book and now wants to tell the world what a piece of shit it is.  It's bad enough when some anonymous cheesedick slams your book after downloading a free copy of it and reading just forty pages, only to realize it isn't their cup of tea BUT they'll write a review anyway...which happens to yours truly from time to time.  Bastards.

If you're looking for a good editing team, look no further: The Kindle All-Stars have the best editing package on the market, even when I'm not involved with it.  I use them myself.  Just don't send us your unfinished work to review, otherwise, I will hunt you down and kill you.  I'm just kidding.  Or so you hope. is Bernard Schaffer’s Official Website (Containing behind-the-scenes info on each book, and much more)

Amazon Author’s Page for a full list of publications

The Bernard Schaffer YouTube Channel


1 comment:

  1. Hi Bernard,

    Great advice. I think we all have to start somewhere and I guess going through the motions will help someone ascertain whether writing is really for them. On the other hand, sometimes we intertwine validation/encouragement as a part of trying to handle self-doubt or other negative thoughts. The bottom line is it's just a lot of hard work. :)