I recently had a wonderful, erudite email discussion with my writer friend Bryan Russell about self-publishing, traditional-publishing, craft, marketing, and a zillion other fascinating things. Bryan is almost painfully brilliant, so I love engaging him in witty banter (wherein he provides the wit and I try to banter).
One idea that lodged itself in my brain was that self-publishers may be perceived as focusing too much on marketing and not enough on craft. I don’t, in fact, believe this is true, because there’s nothing like having the specter of your work published, out for everyone to read and review, to make you want to dot every i and double check the Chicago Manual of Style for the usage of hypens (or in my case, rely on my talented editor Anne of Victory Editing to know) – not to mention make the story AWESOME because anything less and readers will let you know. But as I look over my posts for the last six months, one could be forgiven for thinking marketing is the focus of this newly indie-published writer. In my defense, the general state of the craft hasn’t changed much in the last six months, but the industry (and my experience in publishing) certainly has, so I’ve been posting a lot about that.
However, I truly believe that craft and storytelling are paramount to success (as an indie or trad-pub author), so I’d like to focus a bit more on that while summer descends upon me. Not least because I have a book to write, and I’d like to keep my head in that game for a while. While there’s a zillion posts on craft out there, you never know what tidbit that’s rambling around your head will help someone else. Plus there’s very few things I enjoy chatting about more than the craft of writing. So there you go.
I also believe that learning is doing and you can read all the craft books in the world, but without good quality feedback, you can’t improve. I exchange critiques all the time with my lovely crit partners, and I’m always looking for someone new to add to my Critiquers of Awesome list. I have critiquers that I love and trust, but I also think you can’t run the same piece of work past someone too many times (or even more than once) without them becoming desensitized to the flaws, just like YOU are. So having fresh eyes is important. Plus, you have to be careful about asking the same people to look at your work over and over. A good crit partner is worth their weight in gold! Don’t wear them out. But too often, I hear people lament that they have a hard time finding good critique partners, and that’s also something I’d like to help with.
So I had a brain spark. It has three parts, all of which will occur on Wednesdays on the blog through the summer:
- I will post something craft or storytelling related
- I will offer a 5 page critique
- I will offer up my comments section as a place for people to network and find critique partners
BTW: My critique philosophy is “honesty with kindness.” I believe someone can’t learn while they’re in pain, so it’s important to temper the truth with gentleness. I also believe my job as a critiquer is to help you tell your story better, not change it to be the story I would write.
I feel like a matchmaker already!
(p.s. another good place to hunt down, I mean, match up with critique partners: critters.org)
(p.p.s. Rachael Harrie and I had the same idea today … but she has a LOT of people signing up, so check her out to find critique partners!)