Writer Hacks

Writer’s Hides & the Care and Feeding of Critics

By Stephanie Freeman

            As an artist, you can count on at least one thing: critics. Depending on the thickness of your writer’s skin, a critic can discourage even the most seasoned scribe. Understanding that they are a necessary evil to the craft and learning how to sift through the venom separates the writer that survives and flourishes from the one that withers on the vine.

Some writers romanticize that their skin is a brilliant iridescent shade with scales to match. Others may think of it as a pelt much like a buffalo hide or tougher than alligator skin. However you think of your “armor”, treasure it. This thicker skin will protect you on those days when writer’s block and life’s blows make you wonder why you ever picked up the elusive banner of an artist in the first place.

So how do you develop this writer’s hide? The key to any writer’s thicker skin is to understand this: Critics will come. Don’t take them personally no matter how close to the bone they cut. Some are envious because you have a level of skill and success  they will never know. Others are cruel simply because they can be. (Some of my best villains were born of my worst critics!)

Sift through the venom. Look at what is being said. Ask yourself the following: Is it true? Is it relevant? Is it necessary? And when all else fails remember this: Writing is an act of bravery! Few will know or understand the lengths to which you went or what you endured to find the words. I think the best explanation I heard about writing was something along the lines of ‘If you want to write a really good story, open a vein’.

Sometimes even the most well intentioned friend or family member can become a critic. In those instances, use the same criterion. They may know you as a person, but as an artist? You are strangers. Writers… artists… servants of the muse are governed by something as elusive as smoke yet as real as blood. It is the stardust that lives in all of us. Whether they’ve polluted theirs or relinquished it is their burden to carry not yours.

Some critical appraisals of your work may seem like an attack when in fact, they offer an objective look at technique or content that your writer’s eyes are blind to. Sometimes a fresher eye can see the block and find a way beyond it.

The best way to properly care for and feed your critics? Develop that hide that thicker skin and  KEEP WRITING! No one can tell your stories.  Your ability to knit words together is unique to you and trust and believe. There will always be someone out there that needs to hear the story you wrote.  You and your gift have the capacity to inspire, empower and yes even delight.

Write your stories you way with your words and let the rest fall away. It was and is still the best advice I have ever been given as a writer.  It is my mantra and my mission.

Develop your writer’s hide and keep writing. Your characters your muse and your sanity will thank you for it.

© Copyright Stephanie Freeman 2020

All rights reserved.

Read This Before You try to Publish Your Book!

So you finally did it. You finished that story or collection of poetry that’s been gnawing at your brain and your heart for years.

Now what?

You want to get it out there to the world to help someone or inspire a new generation of authors and poets, but how? How do you do it and not get ripped off?

Piece of cake.

Well, not really.

There are things you must do first before you ‘Publish or Perish’. Not to worry. Steph’s got you covered!

First things first. FINISH WRITING THE BOOK. Sounds like a no brainer, right? You’d be amazed at how many people ask about publishing but haven’t finished writing the book. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Finish the work. THEN think about publishing.

Second, EDIT the book. This book is a representation of you make sure it fits the bill. Get a professional editor. They can help with plot holes and errors as well as spelling and grammar mistakes. Even then, some errors may remain. We’re human. It happens, but put in that work Edit the book.

Third, get a professional to help with your book cover. People say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but in most cases, readers often do.

Okay you’ve checked the first three things off of your list. Now what?

There are plenty of book publishers out there; traditional and otherwise Below is a list of low cost, no cost e-book publishers.

Amazon

LuLu

iBooks

Smashwords

Apple eBook Store

Book Rix

I know what you are thinking, what if I don’t have the money to invest in some swanky (yeah I said it) Book publisher?

Two thoughts on that:

This is your masterpiece and a potential bestseller. Be willing to invest in it and yourself. If you don’t care then why should your readers?

If you really think you have a polished piece ready for your fans in waiting then use one of the resources above. They will walk you step by step through the process right down to creating a book cover and picking the pricing for your book.

What about Vanity Publishers? Who and what are they?

Ah, now there’s an article for another day. But I’ll define it for you here.

A Vanity publisher is a company that you pay to publish your book. Sounds like they’re professionals at it. Sounds like they’ll help get you published the right way, right?

Not necessarily.

I thought the same thing until I researched them. Some, not all Vanity Publishers prey on new and aspiring authors and poets.

I know what you’re thinking. “Wayment. Steph. You just said to invest in my work. That requires money. Money I don’t have. My story is relevant and I need to get it out there!”

True that. I feel you. But here’s piece of advice to hold real close and never, ever forget.

You never pay a publisher to print your work! Legit publishers pay you!

Some Vanity Publishers sell you a bill of goods that can have you coming out of your pockets to the tune of several thousand dollars just to get the “platinum service’. For every new service some of them offer, there’s more money you have to shell out. Even then, there’s no guarantee that your book is going to fly off the shelves.

No matter what the brochure, website or commercial tells you. I I’ll repeat it:

You never pay a publisher to publish your work! Legit publishers pay you!

Do your research. Just like you don’t hand your human kids off to a stranger, the same goes for your book baby. Ask the questions. If they start talking about ‘special services or add-ons or tiers of service, RUN.

Check back in a day or two and I’ll put up a step by step guide to How to Publish an e-Book!

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