I don’t know if this is something every author who has been publishing long enough eventually reaches, but I have now reached this point.
When you’re starting out on this author thing, you obsess over every little criticism someone throws your way. Every thing, no matter how small and insignificant, is a huge deal. I mean, authors will argue over just about anything. I’ve seen threads of arguments devoted to word usage (ex. “walk” or “stride”), active or passive voice, plotting or going by the seat of one’s pants, how often to publish a book, whether to use white or cream paper in a paperback, buying ISBNs vs using the retailer’s identification number for a book, and uploading books directly to every retailer or using a distributor to send the book out to multiple channels for you. Back in 2010, authors had heated debates over paperbacks vs. ebooks. This largely went away because of the popularity of ebooks, but back then, it was all, “You can feel and smell the pages of a paperback. Therefore, ebooks aren’t ‘real’ books.” Today the big debate has become, “You need a human narrator for an audiobook. Using AI narration will ruin the listener’s experience.” I already know how the human narration vs AI narration will go. We still have paperbacks, but ebooks are accepted. Likewise, human-narrated books will still be around in the future, but AI narration will become accepted as a whole. It’s the same stupid argument. It’s just a different format we’re talking about. There’s a place for both, but authors will devote a ridiculous amount of time arguing over it. And some authors are not making AI narrated books in order to appease the critic, even though they really want to.
When you’re a new author, acceptance is everything. You want everyone to love you. You want to be accepted by every author and every reader on the planet. You might logically know you can’t please everyone, but your heart wants to please everyone. Feelings are delicate things. I’m sure they’re more delicate in some personalities than in others. I happen to be “softer” in the emotional area than others. I feel things deeply. It doesn’t take much to get to me. But, over time, I have noticed that I’ve been developing that tough shell experienced authors once advised me to get ASAP. I think it was back in 2010 or 2011 when one author said the only way I was going to survive long term in this business was by letting all of the criticisms I was facing roll right off my back. Her exact expression was, “Let it roll off your back like water rolls off a duck.” It was good advice, and it’s advice I’m offering to anyone struggling with the critic today.
Recently, I posted something in a group where I upset a lot of authors. I knew I was planting something unpopular in the group but felt it had to be said because everyone was ganging up on this poor author who didn’t have the experience under her belt that I do. This author wanted to do something a certain way, and everyone was criticizing her. Her idea was just fine, so I spoke up and said something. I don’t believe in engaging with authors in these arguments anymore, so I didn’t engage any of the critics. I just posted my opinion directly to her in the thread. I had a gut feeling other authors agreed with me but were too scared to say anything.
The purpose of indie authorship is to do things your way. If you’re right, you’ll find an audience. If you’re wrong, you won’t find an audience. If you’re wrong, you can change your course and do things the other way. This business is composed of trial and error. You’ll succeed in some areas; you’ll fail in others. But failure is okay. Failure is a learning opportunity. You’re not strapped down to your failure. You can rise above it. Just change course. Simple as that.
If you have it in your heart to do something a certain way, go for it. Why let someone else make decisions about your books for you? They’re not paying your bills. They’re not dealing with your readers. They’re not stuck with your books in their library. I understand wanting to get advice, but you need to take that advice and tailor it to your specific situation and your specific interests. We are not all the same. We are not all meant to do things the same way. Being indie means you are the owner of your business. It means you have to ultimately make the decisions that are best for you and your business. Your business is not meant to be run by these other authors. Too many authors run their business by committee.
It takes time to get to the point where you will do things your way, and you don’t care what some other author out there thinks about it. It took me 14 years to get here. I’m sure if I wasn’t so emotionally wired, it would have taken me less time. The only way to arrive at this point is to make a decision best for you and stick with it. (Like I said, if you turn out to be wrong, change course, but if you’re right, stick with it.) At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what those authors think. The only thing that matters is that you are free to do what you want with your books without the need for someone else’s approval.