I’m kind of mad today. Not hulk-enraged or grabbing a picket sign and marching in a protest anger. It’s more like an annoyance of sorts. I’m upset people can’t get along. I’m irritated cynical critics circle the weak and unfortunate like a murder of crows.
More specifically, authors.
The market is saturated with books. Don’t believe me? According to Publisher’s Weekly:
- Self-published books now represent 31% of e-book sales on Amazon’s Kindle Store.
- Indie authors are earning nearly 40% of the e-book dollars going to authors.
With the virtual flood of independent and self-published authors, we see the good and the bad. We’ve all seen bad covers, poor editing, horrible stories. Most of us pass on those trope-laden manuscripts, searching for a more reputable option.
Some of us, though, and I’ve even been guilty of this myself, pause on a remarkably word-paint inspired cover with a lack of basic grammar rules displayed between the pages. We marvel at such a blight in the world of writing. We privately shake our heads and wish the author had the time and money to improve. But we move on.
Others are not so fortunate to move on. They dwell on bad literature, flock to it even, like a murder of crows searching for their next feast. They prey on authors without resources, subjectively hating on covers they dislike, as if they have nothing better to do than complain about how the world is.
In the last year (nay, the last month!) that I’ve been ardently publishing and releasing, here’s the short list of “advice” I’ve been given. Keep in mind, I am highly educated, in a Ph.D. program, with a Master’s in English. All my covers and books were professionally crested, designed, edited, and formatted. Yet, the crows always circle, cawing their demands:
- Try canva, you can improve your covers for $10!
- I only use pixabay, plenty of great pictures on there. You really should save money.
- Have you tried taking a college course to improve your writing?
- Maybe you should write to market with a billionaire romance?
- Have you tried bookbub/baby/doggy, etc for marketing?
- I have a much better cover designer, but he/she/they are $500, sorry you can’t afford it
Most of this advice, however, is completely useless. Why would I use canva when I have multiple talented designers with a variety of affordable, professional options? Why should I change my writing style to something I am not great at writing? And dear Lord, I have marketed on every “book” website out there. It’s hard, it always is, with a plethora of competition. Like me, you’re probably a small fish swimming in a very big ocean.
Go ahead, crows. Continue to circle.
Can we improve what we are doing now? Yes, always. I’m always open to list builders, blog hops, and a plethora of new ideas to test for visibility. As the market changes, so must our covers. We can all do better.
But sometimes, we can’t. Financial restraints, family issues, life just gets in the way. Maybe I am old-fashioned – when I see a bad book I want to reach out and help, not bullying the author into something they can’t or won’t do. These are the reasons I edit for what some have called “slave wages” and why I help authors out with covers and formatting, even if it’s only to drop them a name, email, or social media contact.
Next time it’s a real temptation to join your comrades at arms in circling a struggling author, think about what you can contribute to making their world a better place. It’s free to offer encouragement, assistance, and a good word to someone who is on the verge of unpublishing and giving up.
I expect the same of you, other authors.
Now it’s your turn. What bad advice have you been given? Did you use it to make your books better? Or was it a crushing blow from the crows that never cease? Drop me a comment below. I guarantee you’re not alone.