I wish I could engrave this in every writer’s mind. Basically, it’s a simple tenet: you have to know the rules before you can break them. But let’s skip the “breaking” part and realize that we must know the rules.
We writers—we creative types—balk at the idea of rules and laws pertaining to our craft, but guess what? They’re there, and they make us better at what we do.
Often, potential clients will write to me, letting me know they want just a proofread, that they’ve already edited, that they’re pleased with the piece as is and just want to be sure they don’t have typos. These are the hardest manuscripts for me to work on because more often than not, what the client is “pleased with” is sub-par. Who wants to be par much less sub-par? But they’re not interested in an honest critique, just that they have no typos. So I do what I’m told. Usually. I accept this type of job less and less these days.
Their attitude should anger every indie author out there. Many indies are scrambling to overcome the stigma of being self-published and to a certain extent are winning. Being independent is gaining in respectability—particularly since so many big-name authors are dipping a toe into the more lucrative waters. But as long as there are writers who don’t care about the quality of their work, the stigma will remain.
I suppose I can’t preach to everyone, even though I try. If I could, I’d tell them to study the craft! Talent is great, but can you imagine how brilliantly talent will shine when coupled with mastery? Having a compelling story is great, but how much greater would it be if told in a compelling fashion?
Sigh. I guess my frustration is showing.
But seriously, if you’ve sent your work out for edit or critique by a professional, take the feedback seriously. Study up on the things that seem to be a weakness for you. And if you haven’t sent your work out for edit or critique, you should. Even the best of writers have professionals go over their work. Why should you be different?
Yes. My frustration is definitely showing. Rant over. I’ll hush now.