Don’t Apologize for Writing the Book that You Love (A Post for Writers)

The thing about writing is that quality is subjective. The longer you’ve been publishing books and receiving feedback, the easier it is to remember this. But for newer writers, it’s not so easy. I was in a writing group recently where a significant number of authors felt like they had to apologize to readers for writing their books the way they did.

I have one question for you, the writer, when you’re confronted with a random person who didn’t like your book:

Do you love the book?

If so, keep the book as it is, and don’t apologize for writing it.

You are under no obligation to write a book just to please a certain kind of person. This is your book. You are the creator. You get the final say in what happens in it and what doesn’t happen in it. I am tired of watching writers berate themselves for writing stuff someone doesn’t like. So what if that person doesn’t like the book? It’s not their book. They didn’t write it. They can go find another book by another writer that they can enjoy instead. Or, if they are that picky, they can write their own book. There is no reason for you to rewrite your book to satisfy this person. Also, there is no reason to stop writing because of this person.

That person’s problem with your book is their problem. It is not your problem. You are not responsible for how someone feels when they read your book. What they think of the book says way more about them than it does you. Yes, I know that some readers are mean. They will nitpick at every little thing, and they don’t mind being vocal about their grievances. It hurts. I used to answer these readers’ comments, but in the end, it turned into a total waste of time. I never won anyone over by addressing their grievances. I never won anyone over by rewriting my book to satisfy them. (I did this back in 2011 or 2012.) I think all I did was embolden these particular group of readers to go around criticizing other writers. In my opinion, you’re better off ignoring these people. Would you let someone into your house who is criticizing you? No. Your email inbox, your social media page, and your blog/website are your personal “homes” on the internet. You have a right to only answer positive people.

“Oh, but Ruth, what if their complaint is valid?” you might be asking.

Their complaint is not valid IF you love the book the way it already is. Your opinion is the only one that matters. You’re the author. You’re the one invested in this book. You put in your time, your emotions, and your talent into this book. This other person contributed nothing to its creation. They didn’t pay for the cover. They didn’t pay for the editor. They didn’t format the thing for you. They didn’t publish it. They’re not taking the risk it won’t sell. Let the person’s opinion go. Focus on what you enjoy about the book instead. If you love the book, it has value.

The only reason you should change anything in your book is because YOU want to change something.

I don’t know if this post comes off as harsh. I know how badly writers (esp. new ones) want to please the reader. No one wants to be told their book is a piece of crap. No one wants to get that 1-star review. But if we were to write the book that made that particular person happy, it would be a totally different book. It wouldn’t be the book we love. Books have meaning to the people who create them. That meaning is more important than money, and it’s more important than someone’s approval.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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11 Responses to Don’t Apologize for Writing the Book that You Love (A Post for Writers)

  1. Ruth, you made my writer’s heart smile today with your post. I have admired you for years as a writer. I am not a newer writer, but I also have to deal with this. You are so right. If we love our books, that’s what matters. We put our all into our books from the first word to the released book. I know that writers hearing this from you will benefit a great deal. Thanks for not just writing, but pulling other writer’s up with you. May your care and kind-hardheartedness bless you exponentially! On the eve of this year’s April Camp NANOWRIMO, where my goal is to add more to my WIP, your post lifts me up and reminds me how much I love writing and sharing my stories. And that’s what matters most! THANK YOU!!!

    • Thank you so much for your kindness. 😀 I appreciate it a lot. It gives me courage to keep speaking out. In that writer thread, I was shocked by how many authors argued with me. I understand wanting to please the reader, but I don’t see why we feel like we have to beat ourselves up when someone doesn’t like our books. I figure that the books just weren’t that reader’s cup of tea.

      I didn’t mention this in the post, but years ago, I did heavy revisions on four books based off of a someone’s complaints. Then I got a few emails from my readers who asked me to change those books back to the old versions because those were the versions they fell in love with. I ended up going with the old versions. There are readers who love what you write, and there’s a reason they love what you do. We tend to hear from the critic more than those who enjoy our work. I think that ends up making us second guess ourselves at times.

      Good luck with the April Camp! 😀 I’m so glad you’re having fun writing what you do. In the end, that’s the thing that matters most.

  2. galwriter says:

    I agree entirely with what you said. You wrote that way you liked it. That’s all that mattered. Thanks for your input. I’m still struggling with my intrigue novel but I am writing it the way I like it.

    • I hope your intrigue novel isn’t too much of a struggle. I’m glad you’re writing it the way you want. I think in the long run, you’ll be a lot happier with it for choosing this path. I’ve written a few “to market” books, and sometimes I wish they went differently. Those are books I never feel the urge to read again, which is sad to admit.

      • galwriter says:

        Thanks Ruth. I need any encouragement I can get. I don’t feel so alone when I enter into my writing world even though I am a widow now for four years.

        • I can see how writing makes you feel like you’re not so alone. Writing has a way of allowing us to escape. I’m sorry your husband is no longer with us. 😦

  3. Couldn’t agree more, Ruth. It’s so liberating when a writer reaches that point where they’re writing for themselves and their characters and not the market.

  4. I’m glad you wrote this post. I had a novella in an anthology once, and we were required to let two other people in our anthology group read and critique our book. One of those people was actually my regular editor, and she loved it and had very few changes. This other person who I didn’t know tore my book apart. If I had taken her suggestions, the story would have been different, and I wouldn’t have liked it. My editor said not to listen to her because she was a newer writer and didn’t know what she was doing. LOL.

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