If you’re involved in the book publishing world, be it as author or support service, you have probably noticed that these are very exciting times filled with dramatic changes. With any change comes predictions, speculations, manic highs, depressing lows, and general increases in anxiety. Certainly there is no, and I mean NO, shortage of opinions. Some of the opinions are reflective, some judgmental, some insightful and some with ulterior motives.
The literary folks believe Indie’s are destroying the sanctity of literature. Readers think paid reviews are tantamount to killing puppies. Anyone not writing ChicLit and YA thinks it rots the brain and of course every shyster with a shingle has the ABSOLUTE SURE FIRE METHOD TO REACH BEST-SELLER STATUS. There are opinions on how many typos equal a disaster, opinions on how to start your book, the content of the first 5 or 50 pages, and what genres should be taken out to woodshed and beaten to death. Heck even reader ratings and reviews are under fire by readers and authors alike.
Many of these discussions are enlightening, some are helpful, and many are just down right funny. As if there is a secret sauce for succeeding as an author. As if we should dictate, evaluate, or judge the popular favorites of readers…or tell writers what they should or should not write. As if we should give a shit what some faceless self-proclaimed GURU thinks. As if our world or lives are ever going to be defined by a landslide of competing and mostly self-serving opinions.
Really it’s like designing a diet by bringing together representatives from Atkins, Nutri-system, Paleo, and Vegans—you’re pretty much walking away eating nothing for the rest of your life. Me: I’m gonna have a little cake and do a few extra push-ups.
The truth in the book market is that everything and nothing works. The truth is that reading tastes are like fashion—they change over time. The truth is your book is rejected based on salability and the personal preference of the person reading it—not necessarily quality. The truth is marketing is a fluid system and nothing works every time and almost everything works a little bit some of the time. The truth is the best you can do is write the best you can, edit extensively, and market where and when you can…and smile more. The truth is you should read whatever the hell helps you escape the day, teaches you what you want to learn, or expands your mind… if that’s your thing. The truth is this entire thing should be fun not frantic and certainly not stressful.
Fun and happy—now there’s a novel idea. Life doesn’t have many perfect endings so, so what if you want to write them or read them. I once bought a Kirkus Review and in the same month I sent money to ASPCA to ensure I offset any potential injury the paid review did to puppies and kittens. Perfect is about balance. Actually I send money to ASPCA every month…you should too, domestic animals are our responsibility…plus it makes one happy helping the helpless.
I also took a happiness test developed by the “Father” of Positive Psychology Doctor Martin Seligman. The test is about overall wellness and positivity in your life and finding those places and things you should put your focus to maximize your happiness. I wasn’t surprised to score very high. I am a “the glass is three quarters full” kind of guy. Choosing between negative or positive outlooks I see problems as opportunities, broken as a chance to recreate and horror as the opportunity for hope.
The book world may have many to-do’s, confusion and frantic opinions but I only write for one reason…because I love to write. If it starts to feel like a burden I’ll just stop doing it. If people want to criticize what I write, how I tell my stories, my marketing process or my own opinions they can have at it. When I hear those toxic and negative tones, when the world tells me I can’t win, when virtual fist-fights break out I just slip on my head phones and turn up a little music. Go ahead and try to stay negative while the Jackson 5 sings, I want you back…yeah that’s right I said it—Jackson 5. Go ahead and judge, I don’t care cuz I’m way too busy dancing in my chair, writing about monsters, singing like I’m a rock-star, and enjoying the life I’ve created.
You should too because this book stuff is way too much fun. Let the unhappy people grumble in the rain. We know that when it ends there is a rainbow and flowers—and that’s worth smiling over.