Over the last few weeks, there has been a notable amount of excitement in the writing community, namely with very public curtain calls—either intentional (as Madelyn pointed out in her post last week) or unintentional (regarding what will forever be known as the flounce heard around the world). Madelyn had some great insights in her post, and I very much encourage everyone to heed her advice. It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon when you see an Author Behaving Badly, but as an author, I can tell you a bad review can be crushing.
That being said, there is something to be universally acknowledged once something is released on the Interwebs. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Indie author or with a press—your chance to make your manuscript perfect is ON YOU. Either through edits, crit partners, proofreaders, whatever the case may be, for a few precious weeks, maybe even a couple months, your manuscript is exclusive only to those helping you prepare for the release. Once it’s out there, there is no backspace bar. There is no changing or clarifying or telling your editor, “This is what I meant by this.” It becomes the property of everyone, and at some point, it doesn’t matter whether or not the reader “gets” what you intended. Or heck, even if they do get it, they might not like it. And that’s their right.
Letting go of your work is amazingly difficult. You put in so much effort, all to make your manuscript perfect through thousands of corrections and rounds of revisions. And suddenly it’s out there and you’re past point of no return. No looking back. Once it’s out there, it’s out gone.
So yes, it is impossibly difficult distancing yourself from your work. Everyone should bear in mind that behind a bad review is a book, and behind every book is an author who worked tirelessly to get that book published. But at the same time, authors, be aware of yourself. Understand that readers are allowed to find faults with your book, your voice, your characters, your plot…heck, they’re allowed to just plain not like it, even if they don’t have a reason.
It’s a dog-eat-dog world...and, authors, we’re all wearing milk-bone underwear.