Artists have their own unique style, process, and preferences. Over time, you develop and hone your craft. Art isn’t meant to be about perfection or following a trend. I follow a particular artist on tik tok who has the coolest method of painting pictures – she uses mops, balloons filled with paint, or she’ll lay on the paper and have her kids throw paint all over her. The outcomes are always these unique, beautiful, and colourful pieces. Some people critique her saying that it’s not real art or she could use other methods to get the same results. Her responses are always to the effect of “Thanks, but I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.” And she does sell her art. 🙂
When writers view their stories as art, they have a similar mindset. Not every reader will enjoy the style; others could downright loathe it. If the creator likes it, though, that’s what really matters. They’re creating what they love and they enjoy it. To me, that’s what the purpose of art is anyway. Who says it always has to be on-trend, polished, and perfected? No one I’d want to follow.
Over the years, I’ve received unsolicited feedback from random people and it boggles my mind when people think they’re in a position to give this input. If you don’t like how I write, then it’s not for you. If you think there’s too much telling, a lot of narration, or not enough something, that’s fine. I re-read every single book I’ve published, because I enjoy them so much. So no, I’m not going to change my style or how I write because a handful of people messaged me about how it wasn’t polished to their liking. I like writing that’s a bit raw and real anyway. I guess that’s why my favourite books are indie books.
The one exception I’ll make in regards to critiques is if there’s a typo or an embarrassing factual detail that is wrong (Such as city being to the west of another city rather than to the east) then I’d appreciate the “psst! there’s a little error you might want to fix on page 6”. To be fair, I read them over again a few times, so I’ll eventually catch the error anyway, but it’s still nice when someone points that out. Every book will have a couple of errors, even traditionally published ones, so I wouldn’t message the author over one or two typos. If you notice more than a few, it might be nice to give them a gentle nudge while telling them you’re enjoying the story so far. It’s when someone feels the need to say “Too much telling. Her narrative voice is distracting. Your sentences are too abrupt!” then I brush it off, because I really don’t care. If it’s not for you, stop reading it, or keep reading it and give it a review to vent your frustration. There’s no need to message the author about it. Our writing style is what makes it unique, so if we changed it up every time someone gave us feedback, we’d lose passion and uniqueness.
On the topic of style, that does grow and evolve over time as well. I think my writing style has improved over the years. I don’t claim to write a perfect story that everyone will love, but I do like my writing. Unless I’ve asked for feedback (In which case they can give me the full critique because I asked for it), I don’t really need to hear why you didn’t like it. I’m not going to change my story over one disgruntled reader. I will take suggestions, though. I’m always open to hearing what readers might like to see from future stories. One person on this blog asked if I could write a book about my stages of being an indie author. I think I might write something about my indie journey one day, but it feels too soon for that. I need more age and experience before I’d want to write about my journey. Ten years of writing is significant, but not very long either. Maybe I’ll write one at year 15 or 20. To be honest, I don’t usually like writing about my life or actual events in books. I enjoy creating new worlds that let people escape from reality for a little while. That’s what writing is for me.
I appreciated the suggestion. It doesn’t mean I’ll abide by it, but if I think a request is interesting enough, I’ll consider it, because I love hearing what people *want* to see. It never hurts to ask.
The authors who want to make it in the traditional publishing industry will need to hear a lot of criticism and feedback on their book. It goes with the territory. Or indie authors who want to write for market and sell as many books as possible will probably be more open to critiques. My writing path has led me to view my writing as art and this is what makes me happy. So, unless an author asks you to give them feedback, please don’t, because they’re going to write what they love anyway. As they should.