I don’t know about you, but as a writer and a creative, I often find it difficult to take advice. Oh, I have no problems in giving advice, I could do that all day. Accepting and actioning advice from others? Hmmm, well, uhh, yeah, maybe.
As an avid advice-giver, I know how frustrating it is, when you offer something advice, or even when they ask you for advice, and then when you give it – they ignore it completely. *cue screaming into a pillow*
First of all, I would like to apologise to anyone who has given me advice in my life which I have ignored, I’m sorry for being stubborn, I’m sorry for thinking I knew best, I’m sorry if it upset you. Of course, I don’t regret a single choice I have ever made in my life, because it has brought me to where I am right now, and I wouldn’t change that for anything. But there is a chance that had I heeded some of the advice along the way, I could have got here without so many obstacles.
Conversely, I have been given advice over the last few years, that I HAVE followed, only to realise later that perhaps the person dispensing said advice did not have the best intentions for me. So, I have decided that there must be some kind of method, some sort of formula for which advice should be followed, and which should be ignored.
The criteria that should be met by someone whose advice I will give serious consideration to, is as follows:
1. They genuinely want me to succeed in whatever the advice is given for (whether it’s my business, relationship etc.)
2. They’re not profiting from the advice they’re giving (this is a tricky one, will address this further below.)
3. They are an expert in that field, and they have tested out their own advice.
4. I would trust them with my life. (or at least with my livelihood and happiness!)
(I believe that advice that comes from a source that does not meet the above criteria, should be treated with caution.)
In the past few years, I have taken advice from people who have not met the above criteria, and it has not been good advice for me. I took relationship advice from someone who I found out later, did not want my relationship to succeed, and though I don’t regret what happened as a result, it made me realise that perhaps I was just a little too trusting, and didn’t listen to my intuition.
The part on profiting from the advice, well, that is tricky. Because someone might be advising me to do a course or buy a product, that will genuinely help me. Yes, they might be making money from the transaction, but it could be exactly what I need to change my life. But there are so many just trying to make money, who aren’t really interested in me or my success, and that’s why I need to look at all four of the points above before deciding.
I run a small Indie Publishing business, called The Amethyst Angel, and I get queries from authors who want me to work with them to independently publish their books. Often they say they just want formatting, or proofreading, as they don’t feel it needs any editing work, they’re happy with it they way it is. The first thing I will do (which I don’t charge for) is to read the manuscript. And I warn them that I will be completely and utterly honest about what I think. I have told some authors that I think they need to completely re-write the book before considering having it edited, and I have told some authors that it needs editing before it can be proofread and formatted. Sometimes, they listen, and we work together and produce awesome books, and also become very good friends, after all, I genuinely want them to succeed. And sometimes, they don’t like my advice, and they go and find someone who will just format it and publish it, as it is, with no further work done on it.
Being an Independent Author means that it’s entirely your choice. It’s their choice to ignore my advice, and that’s fine, after all, my opinion may not be the same as others, and I accept that. But what I want them to know, if that I’m not giving them that advice so I can make money from them. I am giving them that advice so that the standard of Indie books is raised up just a little more. At the end of the day, I am an Indie Author. I am on the author’s side. I would never tell an author that a book needs work when it doesn’t because it would be a waste of my time and their money. And I will not work on a book that isn’t even ready to be edited, because it would end up costing the author too much. I would always advise them to re-write, revise, and find willing beta readers who will help them first.
I apologise for my rant. But I do feel very strongly that this is an important issue. If Indie Authors want to be seen as professionals, if they want to be taken seriously in the publishing world, then it’s time they started producing professional pieces of work. Now, I’m not saying that as an Indie Author, I have it all figured out, because I don’t. In fact, I’m currently re-branding three of my books because my original covers and blurbs aren’t cutting it. I created the covers myself, and though I thought they were good, and others seemed to agree, I realise now that they do not do the books justice. Because whether we like it or not, a large percentage of people do still judge a book by its cover!
I will keep you updated on the new covers, they should be ready to be revealed very soon, and I hope that my advice on taking and ignoring advice was useful to you! Have a wonderful week :)