Readers and writers are two very different animals. I know, I’ve been both, and am now just a writer.
What I mean is, as an author, you need to constantly remind yourself who you are writing for. Hopefully, unless you’re writing ‘how to write’ books, you are writing primarily for people who love to read. Yes, I know writers also read books, but this blog is about the difference in perception from those who write but also read, from those who read but don’t write.
The vast majority of those who read books, don’t write them, and the way they will engage with, and react to your work, is very different from the way another writer will engage with and react to it. Your job as an author is to please those who read, not those who write. Remember that.
Give a writer and a non writer a copy of the same book and ask them to review it. You will get two totally different approaches.
The writer will comment on your grammar, spelling, the depth (or lack thereof) of your characters, your narrative being too wordy (or not wordy enough), plot holes and continuity errors, lack of attention to detail etc etc etc. Whilst all this is useful to know so that you can improve your writing in the future, it’s not the be all and end all.
Those who read but don’t write will give you different feedback. They will say how much they enjoyed it (or didn’t), whether they liked the characters or not, whether the story engaged them or bored them. They might say how keen they are to read your next book, and they might also point out a few spelling/grammar errors if they’re obvious ones.
See the difference?
An important point to remember is that another writer will always have their editing head on, and will always notice the errors first. As far as most authors are concerned, simply liking the story or characters is not important. They are the ones who will say spelling and grammatical errors are deal breakers when it comes to buying a book. Those who just read and don’t write, tend not to regard the odd spelling mistake or grammar faux pas as the end of the world, enjoying the story is paramount for them.
Another thing worth remembering is that other authors will always regard you as a rival for their customers, and many will enjoy pointing out every little mistake you made, in order to make their own work appear superior to yours, and their knowledge all the greater. Of course I know not all are so calculating, but many are. I see so many authors wanting the approval of other writers before they feel worthy of self publishing, and seldom do they realise or remember that it is readers they’re after, and most readers don’t write books.
Of course you should make sure your work is as free from errors as possible, that goes without saying, (or it should), but it’s not more important than creating a story and characters that people will enjoy. Your first concern is what readers want and stuff other authors’ opinions.
I also see authors spending a lot of time networking on social media with other authors, and I must admit that the vast majority of my twitter followers are other authors. I fail to understand why they think networking with me is going to help them sell their books, as I’ve no intention of buying 99.9% of them, but still they add me in droves every day. It is getting difficult to find ordinary readers on social media now, and all of my attempts to find them on twitter have failed. I have to assume that those who read but don’t write, aren’t on twitter.
It is not important that other authors like you or your work, other than the exchanging of information that does sometimes take place between writers. Tips on formatting, marketing strategies, the best software for making video trailers and other nuts and bolts stuff is useful, but don’t waste time trying to impress them with your work. They will never will impressed until you are famous for your writing and they are still trying to make it. Then they’ll be all over you like a cheap suit.
I’m not trying to put authors against each other, but I am trying to explain perspective. So many authors (myself included) have become despondent because other authors don’t seem too impressed with their work, but it is not other authors who will buy it. Authors will happily review your work, if you give them a free copy, but they don’t often buy it. Again, I know there are a few who do, so no hate mail please.
99.9% of the population don’t write books and never will, and it is those people whose opinions matter most, those people you should aim to please and those whose affections you should be courting – if you can find them.
But that’s a whole other problem.