If you publish via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) sooner or later you’ll find yourself on the KDP Community Page. The KDP Forums are a great place to share experience, ask questions and get answers.
You can also find a fair bit of drama.
There was the infamous JJ thread. A new indie author announced her books and invited comments. When the comments weren’t fawningly favorable she acted out. The response from the community ranged from apologetic support to gleeful derision.
The poster tufff lamented his poor showing in the Amazon Breakthrough New Author (ABNA) contest, swearing never again to put words on paper so as not to offend real writers with his pathetic prose. The replies seemed to fall into two camps, those who defended the poster on the grounds that he was suffering from clinical depression, and those who called him a whiner.
Then there’s the whole underclass of trolls and pranksters who prowl the forums. I can’t speculate about their motives but they do provoke a response.
When a new author gets on the forum they seem to characterize the goings-on in one of two ways:
- What kind, helpful people!
- Who are these losers?
Which one of these attitudes governs the new author probably has to do with his or her self-image. Which brings me to the topic of my post.
It takes a certain amount of self-assurance to put your writing out there for public consumption. So much of your personality is invested in your writing that it’s easy to interpret any negative judgment of your writing as a personal indictment. Getting past that requires the newbie author to internalize a few principles:
- Writing is a skill. It can be taught, and it gets better with practice. Criticism of a written piece is more likely than not an assessment of skill level, not a personal assault. Hear it, consider it, profit from it.
- The motives of the critics in the forum are as varied as their skill levels. There are the sympathetic, supportive mommy types, the here’s-what-I-would-do-but-who-am-I-to-talk? types, and the Tough Love, I’m-not-doing-you-any-favors-by-sugar-coating-the-truth types. In each case, their advice has less to do with being helpful than it does with reinforcing their own self-image.
- The critics in the forum for the most part are no better than you are. If you want advice you can count on, hire a pro.
And, finally, the most important principle of all:
- A big ego and a thin skin are a bad combination
I have a big ego. More than big – it’s colossal. Galactic. I work hard to control it and I haven’t always been successful. I doubt I could have finished my book if I didn’t have a fine opinion of myself. That said, I’ve also lived long enough to know just how much I don’t know, what other people are capable of that I’m not, and what I can learn from them.
If you’ve seen my earlier post you’ve seen my six rules for indie success:
- Write good stuff.
- Know your genre.
- Make your work available.
- Generate buzz.
- Interact with your fan base.
- Work like a draft mule.To which I add a new rule:
- Grow a hide.