Why do we think the rules don’t apply to us? Because we can always think of exceptions to the rules. Did someone say your book was too long for a YA fantasy? What about the Harry Potter books? Too many characters? What about Game of Thrones? We can always think of exceptions because we feel our own books are exceptional. We know our book will be the next big thing, if people would just give it a chance!
The trouble is, every indie author in the world thinks this way, and no one is going to give all those books a chance. I know your book is better than the others. I know, but your audience has no way of knowing that if you don’t follow rules like getting it perfectly edited, and getting a stunning cover.
How do we overcome this?
Pay attention to the feedback you hear most often, despite how difficult it may be to implement. For example, I received early feedback on “The Mansion’s Twins” that it has too many characters. It’s so easy to think of exceptions, especially when the suggested changes are difficult to make. But do it today, or, like me, you’ll be paying for it tomorrow. This is why, so many years after publishing for the first time, I’m making some big changes.
Think about the path you’ll take to make the changes, and how it is actually possible, instead of making excuses. Maybe you think you “can’t” cut a certain character because of how he or she affects later books. Think about how you can make the same events come to pass without him. Or, if you absolutely need him later on, can you introduce him later on, and leave him out until then?
View your book as a reader, not a writer. What are you drawn to in a bookstore? Pay attention to your inner critic as you look at other people’s books, then apply them to your own book.
Now that you’ve got the audience perspective down, try to look at your book as being complete—raise your editing standard to “finished product” rather than “work in progress.” Remember, ever error you’ve made will stand out to you once the book is published. Look at it as being published, and it’ll be easier to spot those mistakes beforehand.
And the most difficult rule to follow: be patient. Often times, it’s just the excitement and eagerness to be published that make us skip important steps. It’s shockingly easy to have our books in the public eye now, it’s actually dangerous. But it’s not just your books reputation on the line, or even your reputation as an author. It’s the reputation of all independent authors as a whole. We’re counting on you to uphold a high standard. Take another week/month/year/however long you need to make you’re book the best it can be. Your readers, and other authors, will thank you for it.