Keep calm and quit being your worst critic

Shortly after the revised edition of my memoir was published, I was holding the paperback in my hands, with that newfound sense of awe and accomplishment that comes with every book I publish. Flipping through the pages, I noticed what was written on the copyright page: This novel is a work of fiction

Naturally, I was horrified. How many people had seen this?! It was such an embarrassing gaffe; such a stupid mistake, but luckily not difficult to fix. I did, however, have to go back to The Learned Owl Bookshop to replace the copy with the misprint. I copy-paste the copyright notice from my previous books (those are fiction), and change the title and year of publication. I probably made a mental note to go back and change the wording later, and just forgot. Obviously.

But a mistake like that caused a miniature anxiety attack that I’m sure many authors face: what if there are other mistakes in my book I don’t know about? What if there’s some major flaw that no one – not the editor, not any of my six beta readers – picked up on?

A better question: would I have these same fears if all my books were traditionally published?

I think I would. Not just because I have found typos and slight grammar goofs in traditionally published novels before – they are made by humans, after all – but because it’s still my work. I am harsher on myself than any 1-star review from a Goodreads troll. I will always ask myself, no matter how many positive reviews I get: Did I really give it my all? Did I wait long enough before publishing? Did I get enough opinions from readers who enjoy this genre? Did I…?

I know there’s no such thing as a universally pleasing book. There may not even be such a thing as a “perfect” book. But assuming every required task was checked off the list before publishing, there has to come a point when you rest in knowing that you gave it your best shot.

No, not everyone who reads your work will love it. Some might even hate it. But I firmly believe that if you invest your time, your emotions, and your heart in every book, the readers you are trying to reach will be able to tell. One misplaced comma that went overlooked by a hundred beta readers and five different editors/proofreaders will not ruin your entire book, or underscore all that hard work (it kind of pains me to say that, being a perfectionist with OCD, but how can I hold that standard for other people’s books and not my own?).

Of course, it’s much easier to type this out as a motivational blog post than to truly believe it. But as long as I continue giving my best effort, there’s nothing left to do except hold these paperbacks proudly, and not be afraid to admit Yeah, I made these.

This post is part of the Indie Author Life series.


One thought on “Keep calm and quit being your worst critic

  1. Pingback: How many words does it take to tell a good story? | Sarahbeth Caplin | Author

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