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Archived Author Help > Do people badger at you to change your novel?

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message 1: by Rachael (last edited Apr 23, 2015 03:35PM) (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 192 comments Does anybody else find that as an indie / self published author, family and friends try to influence the process?

My third book developed out of my deep affection for old school adventure stories. One of the core elements of such stories is love between men - like Holmes and Watson, say - and I thought it would be sweet and romantic to have two brave, heroic men in love with each other. They'd be my own creations after all, so no one could claim I was sullying their childhoods etc. Somewhere along the way it became a sci fi, and one of the couple is a robot, but it remains true to its Boy's Own origins. No one could possibly object, could they?

Wrong! I've had people nagging about this the instant I say: "There's this middle aged explorer and ..." People tell me that it won't sell in its current form - that they should be a straight couple, with perhaps the explorer as an older woman, or a lesbian couple, or that they should both be human (despite the fact that there wouldn't be anything stopping them being together then). Even lesbian friends complain that I'm selling out by having male lead characters. I love the story deeply, but the general reaction is so hostile, I keep considering giving up.

Has anyone else suffered from this? I'd love to hear your insights, experiences etc.


message 2: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Wow! No, nothing that bold. I dare say most of my friends and family don't read anything I write, but of those who do, all four or five of them, a few are my sounding boards and I can kind of tell when they want me to do something other than what I've done. Sometimes the suggestions have merit, but other times I have to step in and say, 'I'm the author here! I write what I want!'
But as for the type of criticism you're getting, I have to wonder if they even realize how insulting that is?


message 3: by Iffix (new)

Iffix Santaph | 324 comments (Your premise doesn't appeal at all to me, so take this with a grain of salt. I'm not going to appeal to you to change it. And you can feel free to ignore this response.)

There are millions of books out there on the market. There is plenty else a reader can read if he or she isn't happy with the story you're telling.

So if we don't pressure our readers, they really have no right to pressure us. If you're up front about the storyline so they know what they're getting into, you shouldn't worry so much.

I found out this evening, my parents bought a copy of my sci-fi book for my grandmother who has no desire to watch anything sci-fi or read anything sci-fi. It's always been junk to her, and I hardly plan to change her opinion with my book. I will probably be hearing an earful from her about why I couldn't have written a decent Western like Little House on the Prairie.

So I think that sooner than later I will be hearing plenty of pressuring comments. But again, I was not the sort who pressured them to buy or read my book, so my comment will probably have to be a tactful version of "Back off!"


message 4: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Ahh, the point of many a contention between my wife and I. Do you know if you write as a couple, you'll probably argue about writing? Still, as Christina said, I just put my foot down and say, "Hey, who the hell is writing the story here, don't like it write your own damned book!" That's mostly in the heat of the moment, as she does a lot of work for our series.


message 5: by Quoleena (new)

Quoleena Sbrocca (qjsbrocca) My husband told me I was making a mistake by revealing a certain character in the first chapter. He'd only read the first few out of 30 chapters at that time. At first I took his advice and changed it, but it didn't feel right, so I changed it back. He was up in arms about it, but I told him that it was too bad, that it was my decision to make, and that he would just have to get over it.


message 6: by Paul (new)

Paul Neafcy (neafcy) | 28 comments Only you know the story you want to tell. Don't give up. The Beatles got turned down by Decca records in 1962 because they thought guitar groups were "on the way out". Nobody knows anything about what will or won't sell, and since when is that all that matters? You have a story to tell, your way.

Personally, I avoid telling people about things I'm working on. Once they're ready to be read, I will ask people I trust to have a look and give notes, but otherwise it just confuses matters to have too much exterior input. Too many cooks and all that.


message 7: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments The question presupposes someone is reading my books...

So no. No one badgers me to change my books.

(Unsure if this is a curse or blessing.)


message 8: by Libby (new)

Libby Stott | 4 comments Christina wrote: "Wow! No, nothing that bold. I dare say most of my friends and family don't read anything I write, but of those who do, all four or five of them, a few are my sounding boards and I can kind of tell ..."
Tell the story you love.

No one is keeping them from telling theirs.


message 9: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments ...and I haven't even told most of my family that I've published books.

No one in my family reads SF, so I don't actively tell them I do it. I don't want people I know feeling they have an obligation to buy or read it if it's clearly not their thing. I can see the looks they'd give me now, totally not understanding it. Just one more weird thing Micah does. It ain't worth it.


message 10: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Jensen (kdragon) | 468 comments This is why I tend to be incredibly hush-hush about my writing, although I have a pretty supportive family when it comes to what I write. Still, even then they only come to know about the story once it's written.

I actually see this kind of thing on occasion when reading fanfic (yes, I admit it, I read fanfic. I even write it because I find it relaxing and a good way to hone a few writing skills). I read gen - stories that don't have non-canon pairings - and I'll see people who leave comments along the lines of "your story would be better if you had X/Y pairing." As well as "could you include X/Y pairing?" And other people attempting to tell the author what to write.

It sounds like your friends and family are trying to get you to write what they want to read and not actually contributing any helpful advice. But as others have said, it's your story. You're writing what you want to write, and that's what you need to focus on, not the nay-sayers.


message 11: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments I make it a point to not share or discuss my work with family or most friends; in fact, most of them don't even know I write fiction. (That my co-author is also my best friend is an anomaly.) However well intentioned, it often seems such people feel they have license to comment and exert influence, without a concomitant effort to understand. It is an unfortunate thing, because it seems we ought to be able to share something that means so much to us with our inner circle, but it appears to be a fact of life.

I can offer no guidance on this, but I sincerely hope you do not give it up. (I read your book, you see, and to have a voice such as yours dulled or warped or silenced by the meddling of others would make at least one person truly sad.)


message 12: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Siegrist (amandasiegrist) | 190 comments I find that when my husband reads my books, he will stop and say, "Should you put this in there?" Or "I don't know about this hon." And I look at him and say, "keep reading first before you pick it apart." Once he finishes and he still doesn't like it, I ask him for valid reasons why and determine if I agree. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. That goes for everyone I have read it because it they don't like something or have a better idea, I'm all ears. But if it's something I'm really passionate about and think it needs to stay then ultimately it stays because I am the author. Go with what you want to do because at the end of the day it's your story, your creation and you are the one who should be proud of it. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, just as you are:)


message 13: by James (new)

James III | 16 comments Iffix wrote: "(Your premise doesn't appeal at all to me, so take this with a grain of salt. I'm not going to appeal to you to change it. And you can feel free to ignore this response.)

There are millions of bo..."

Hear, frickin' hear!


message 14: by Anita (last edited Apr 23, 2015 07:12PM) (new)

Anita (anitalouiserobertsonyahoocom) | 50 comments Rachael wrote: "Does anybody else find that as an indie / self published author, family and friends try to influence the process?

My third book developed out of my deep affection for old school adventure stories..."


Rachael its just like the old expression those that can't - teach. Well those who don't write their own books love to tell other people what to do with theirs. I had a comment once that my main character needed more "back story." The funny thing was that the first three chapters were nothing but back story.
Too many cooks still spoil the broth, and they absolutely ruin a novel.
Just smile, and go about your writing. I think your story sounds great!


message 15: by B.E. (new)

B.E. (besanderson) With any advice, take what you can use and throw the rest out. Before my daughter moved out on her own, she was my beta reader. She'd give suggestions knowing full well that I would toss them out if they didn't work for me. After reading one of my books, she said 'You don't have enough dead bodies.' and she was right, so I rewrote the story. On the other hand, I had an editor tell me I needed to change the end, while a writing friend loved the end. I'm keeping the end the way it is. Opinions are everywhere.

The point is: Write the best story you can and write what works for you.

And yeah, if your well-meaning friends and family have an idea for a better story, then they need to get typing and write that story themselves. ;o)


message 16: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4277 comments Mod
Rachael wrote: "Does anybody else find that as an indie / self published author, family and friends try to influence the process?"

I wouldn't say I ever feel badgered, but occasionally someone might offer an idea. Rare as few family and friends read my work. I don't even ask my family to.

I suppose if it happened, I would just thank them and continue with my plans. If the person is not a writer, they would probably have no idea how one little variation in a story can change the whole thing.


message 17: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Hmm now that I think of it. Yes, my son, who has never read any of my books, is badgering me. He keeps telling me that I should kill my protagonist. He says no one ever remembers good endings but a death makes them gasp. It's shocking. They'll remember you.

To what I answer I'm not sure I'd want to be remembered for that...

(He a huge fan of GoT. Does it show? :P )


message 18: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda Robbins (rhondalouiserobbins) | 1 comments family members are always interesting!


message 19: by Micah (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments My wife keeps telling me I should write stuff full of positive things. "Why dwell on negative things?"

I just quote my favorite Tolkein line from The Hobbit:

"Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway."


message 20: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (moralinfidelity) | 2 comments If readers who make suggestions about your book, be it family or friends, are persons you trust in terms of being well-read enough to make such observations, then it might be worth considering their opinions. I had a good friend who gave me a really astute piece of advice about a specific part of the book, and I'm grateful she did. But she reads a lot of books in the same genre, so I trusted her instincts. It made the book better.


message 21: by M.E. (new)

M.E. Kinkade (mekinkade) | 17 comments Ouch, Rachael, it must hurt to have your idea put down by people you love! I'm like many others here in that I mostly keep my concepts to myself--I still haven't let my family read the first novel I wrote, because I was too afraid of their reactions!

But I think your story sounds like something a lot of people would probably enjoy. Besides, as someone else said, even if they don't like it, someone else might. It's a wide-open world!


message 22: by Rachael (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 192 comments I don't talk about it unless the dreaded "What are you writing?" question comes up. Admittedly all my synopses so far are on the weird side. But who wants a book exactly like every other out there?

It's not that I'm impervious to criticism. If somebody makes a suggestion that I feel clicks, or really improves a story, I'll go with it. Perhaps I'm being stubborn, but if I've created a character a certain way, I find it really difficult to go back and unpick him. Much of the pressure seems to be on me to create a "strong woman" character - never mind there are plenty of those in the book, they're just not the leads.


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