If you want to put yourself out there as a published author, then you’re going to have to be prepared to venture into Opinion City, found past Judgement Valley, right before you hit the Subjective Moors.
You can’t get to your goal of giving birth to your fictional works until you pass through such a place. And to be honest, the people of Opinion City will always leave a mark on you—good and bad—and you need to be prepared to face it head on, never showing any signs of weakness, and never bleeding among the sharks.
Not that there are sharks in Opinion City. There may be trolls, but not sharks. But there are also a lot of people with good intentions there, too. We can’t help it. It’s human nature to form opinions, and if we all shared the same one, then the world would be a pretty dull place. However, there are many to watch out for before you enter, so please be aware.
Do not let my warning frighten you. And do not be offended if you’re one of the people below. This message is to reassure the writers in all of us that we’re not alone and to keep going. Without us doing so, learning and honing our craft, the bards will die out. And our souls can’t have that. So, writers, know that the purpose of this message is not only to warn you, but also to encourage you to travel forth anyway. Pick up your belongings and enter the city, but do so with one thing in mind:
TRUST IN WHO YOU ARE.
So, who should you watch out for?
1. THE GRAMMAR TOMATO THROWERS – No one wants to pay for a book riddled with errors, but I’m talking about those who won’t let certain things go. I’m also telling you that a few want to pay next to nothing for books and moan when there are grammatical issues, ridiculing the author for not getting a good editor. They don’t mind having the book for free or paying 99 cents for it. But they want it to be perfect, akin to the bestsellers which can afford to have an army of editors
review them. So be prepared to be pelted with Grammar Tomatoes if you do not deliver a high-quality product, with no errors, for a fraction of the cost, you Heathen! No one will care if you’re paying hundreds of dollars out of your own pocket to fund the book. And the tomato throwers won’t give a damn about the fact you’ve put in sixty hour weeks to edit it yourself. You will provide them with a top quality product for a low affordable price because that’s the way the world works. Isn’t it? Nope. But they won’t give a damn.
2. THE GENRE SOLDIERS – Did you not know that if you don’t list your book in the right genre, you will be arrested and thrown into soldier jail? If you put romance in your urban fantasy, or not enough romance in your romance, or too much horror in your supernatural story, or not enough horror in your thriller meant to scare, then sorry, you’re heading for the pen. But don’t worry. You can escape when you begin to trust yourself in knowing your genre, realizing you can change such things along the way if you conclude it’s probably not the right fit. And, on many occasions, genre can be subjective. There are so many genres, sub-genres, sub-sub-genres, it’s easy to get confused. And yes, even I, as a reader, want to expect what I pay for. But I also like to think I’m akin to many in Opinion City where I have some flex on what goes on in the story. So, trust in that.
3. THE LITERARY ROYALS – “Off with your head! What is this ridiculous fiction? It’s trash. Bah. It’s not literature. How droll. How silly. How pathetic. Darling, if you want literature, here is a list, to show you how clever I am!” Now, I’m not one for putting ANYONE down for what’s on their reading list. If it’s the literature you like – great! If you like horror – superb! If you love romance, I’m right there with you. But no one, and I mean no one, has the right to make you feel inferior about your choices. So know that if it’s not the topic of books these people use as a tool to try and make you feel bad, it will be something else. But books. You know books. So remember all the times you felt good when reading, when you smiled and sighed, and couldn’t wait to turn the page. There are billions out there who do the same with the kind of popular fiction you write, and these pompous royals can’t take that away from you—not now they’ve done away with execution—so rock on!
4. THE SERIAL HATERS – These citizens of Opinion City confuse me. These are the ones who don’t like your book, or who found it ‘meh,’ yet they keep reading the series and keep knocking it down. Why? Why continue reading? There are billions of books out there waiting for someone to read them. Why keep going with something that doesn’t have you excited, make you laugh, or feel scared? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!!!! …. *Breathe, breathe, breathe* … But don’t fret. These people don’t hide who they are so others who want to buy your book won’t take much stock in their opinion. Let them rate you low or mediocre and keep throwing money your way. Every bit counts, right?
5. THE SENSITIVE SOULS – I’m not talking about
triggering here. Many books, I think, need some form of heads up if adult themes, especially distressing ones, are going to feature in the story. That’s only fair, right? But come on … Don’t complain about the sex when it’s a romance that’s got two half-naked people on the cover, or when it’s a natural transgression in a book intended for adults. People have sex. People in relationships have sex. And since the beginning of time, it’s a part of life that’s needed if we want to keep on living. But it’s also something to enjoy, to form connections. And I’m not talking erotica here. People tend to expect sex in that genre. But I’m on about our thrillers, your horrors, your romances. I know sex needs to be handled differently in some respects across the different genres, but as long as it fits in the story, does it matter? Don’t they have sex in action movies? Don’t they have sex in horror movies before they’re about to die? (Disclaimer: I don’t watch many horrors so kind of guessing on this one.) These lovely souls don’t think so. AND DON’T GET THEM STARTED OF F&*%ING swearing! OKAY! Might want to give them a heads up if you’re a dirty flirty soul with a foul mouth (like me) though. If they complain after that, then it’s on them.
6. THE DO-GOODERS – Avoid these people like the plague. They may be all smiles, and sweet, and lure you in with candy. But do not trust a word they say. These are the ones who most likely won’t read the kind of books you write, but will most likely want to give you advice anyway. They will tell you that you’ve done okay, that the story was okay, but at the same time, waves of disappointment will eke out of their pores, turning you into a quivering wreck of shame and believing you’re not good enough because you don’t write like them. Run when you see these people. RUN I TELL YOU!
7. THE NAYSAYERS – You’ll never make it big from writing. You’ll never earn money from it. Can’t you get a real job? It’s too competitive. Don’t give up your day job. Have a plan B. Don’t take any risks. And on, and on, and on will these people rant until they see your soul crushed and tears in your eyes. But DO NOT LISTEN. They only do this because they need validation to stay hovering above their safety net, scared to venture out in the world because fear holds them a prisoner. Back away, hands out in defense, and find your happy place. Maybe by seeing you venture through the city unscathed they’ll break free from their chains and follow your example.
8. THE TROLLS – And we end on these bad boys—or girls. We meet them everywhere nowadays, don’t we? We know what they’re like. But note that they’re prevalent in Opinion City, and they will try every step of your way to stop you from going any further. They don’t want you to be successful because they get damage points. And the more people who pass through the city without listening to them, the more damage they obtain until they are no more. But don’t feel bad for them. These trolls can turn into Princes or Princesses but choose not to. Don’t let them clobber you over the head and retreat with your body into their swampy dungeon. Ignore their words, ignore their hate, and quite frankly, if you’ve got to give them something, make sure it’s deodorant. These beasts hang out in some unsavory places.
And there you go! Consider yourself now warned. Opinion City can be a dangerous place. And sometimes, we’re all guilty of having a moan every now and again. Only as an author, you can’t afford to listen to it to a point where it gets into your psyche. Keep on writing, keep on going, because you will soon see Success Point in the distance: a mountain range of beauty and tranquility, waiting for you to reach your destination where no matter where you choose to live, or who you want to be, you will be happy inside at the core. And HAPPY CORE people are the best!