Who To Listen To?

In my personal experience, the best public board for self-publishing information is [a certain writer forum that was bought and ruined by new ownership].  And the best public board for trade publishing and craft information is at absolutewrite.com.

I’ve come to that conclusion after three-plus years of watching and reading the boards and a few other boards.  It’s possible there are better resources out there that I just haven’t found, so if you’ve found a better, more active location then great.  (And please share.)

But as good as both of those boards are as resources, I see people get terrible advice on them all the time.

I’ll see someone post on the self-publishing board and ask, “Should I take this trade publishing deal?”  And I ask myself, do you really think that asking a question like that on a board that’s almost fully dedicated to self-publishing is going to get you a balanced, nuanced view?  No.  People are going to demand to see the exact contract language (not something to be sharing publicly) and then they’re going to tear it apart and tell you to self publish.

Or today I saw someone posting on AW about what to price their self-published erotic short story at.  First response was from an AW moderator who doesn’t self-publish and doesn’t read the genre telling the author that the price they were going to use that had been suggested by someone who self publishes in that genre is wrong.

It’s great to solicit input and advice from more experienced writers.  But you have to be very, very careful who you listen to and when.  Someone can be brilliant and successful in their area and the advice they give you can be absolutely, totally wrong for what you’re trying to do.

Even when it comes to writing craft.  What works in one genre (omniscient point of view, for example) can be a complete non-starter in another genre.

I’m firmly convinced that to be a long-term success at this writing thing you ultimately have to fall back on your own gut instinct and learn from your own experience.  You can’t spend your entire career asking others how to manage it.  Hell, the answers to some of these questions change on an almost daily basis.  And the people who see the answers changing are going to be too busy adjusting to the shifting marketplace to stop and tell you what to do.

So, sure, ask others’ opinions if you must, but be very, very careful who you actually listen to.


About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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