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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

And They Never Got Better...

One of an authors worst fears - right up there with their book not selling at all - is the fear that they will never get better.

Stagnation is one of the four horsemen of the career apocalypse.

I'm not talking about formula writers; the authors who turn out seven books a year following a formula and possibly with the help of ghost writers. The readers who like formula books read because they like the style. And even those authors improve with time.

What so many authors fear is never getting better. Never improving on the skills they have. It's a fear of a plateau, and the favorite prey of this vicious trap are the Indie Authors and the Bestsellers.

A self-published author (SpA) can do amazing work, but without someone demanding your time and attention it's very easy for a SpA to stay in their comfort zone. They're paying for their editors and choosing their crit partners, and if the SpA isn't  very careful they'll find themselves respond by a wall of Yes.

Yes! I loved the book.

Yes! This is the best you've ever written!

Yes! You can publish this.

You can see why Best Selling Authors (BsA) also fall into this trap. When you're making millions from your writing there are very few people who want to tell you NO.

When no one tells you NO occasionally you wind up publishing utter drek. For the BsA this may not be a problem. After all, names are brands and brands sell. For the SpA the complacency brought on by the Wall of Yes can lead to dwindling sales and a dead career.

I love to read, and I read widely, but if the author is making the same plotting and pacing mistakes in Book 4 that they made in Book 1? I'm out.

If all you're hearing is YES! I LOVE THIS! it's time to find some new crit partners, a new editor, and maybe a new genre. Try something new. Step out of your comfort zone. And don't be afraid to fail. Fear of failure has killed more careers than any other problem in publishing.

Keep writing. Keep growing. Keep pushing yourself to be a better author.

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