Don't Get Attached.

Writer Wednesday!!!

So I talk a lot about how when I write I pour out my very, most basic essence into whatever it is, or how when I publish, it's my child that I'm releasing to the world. Each word I pen on paper is ripped from my very flesh and a living, breathing extension of me. When bad reviews are written, I feel them like actual stab wounds in my gut. When the public judges my words, I feel their criticism, whether good or bad, in the farthest depths and recesses of my very soul.

Sounds dramatic?? It's just a preview of the emotions and feelings that go into it.

Believe me. 

That being said... As a writer, it's okay to feel that way. In fact, you're kind of shackled into feeling that way. you can't get away from it. It's life for us. Emotionally unstable, volatile, just-on-the-brink-of-crazytown life. 

But feel that way knowing you're just going to have to get over it.


No matter what avenue of publishing you tackle, either self-pubbing or traditional, your writing is still a business. You are a business. And your books are products that you sell. Nothing more.

While you're writing those books, pour every ounce of you into it. Cry over it. Bleed over it. Do that laugh that you know is just on the verge of hysteria over it. But get it allllll out. Make it the most honest, real, authentic thing you've ever created. 

And then detach yourself from it completely. 

Because as soon as that baby goes to print.... Shit just got real.

I'm quoting. 

Don't judge my language. 

But seriously... You cannot stay attached to all those feelings or loyalties once it's out there. You have to look at it with all the cold, calculated separation a James Bond villain would use while he considered blowing up the world. 

I mean, you have to get yourself away from that emotionally and see it from a business perspective. It's your heart and soul, yes. And you will always feel it when something negative is said. But it's also something you are trying to sell to other people.

And their good opinion is everything. 

So if something is not working, you HAVE to be willing to change it.

That starts in editing. 

First. Get a good editor. Get someone you can grow to trust and respect. Get someone that is going to give it to you straight and not hold back any punches. 

It SUCKS to have something edited. I'm not kidding. It is painful. And at first, it feels like your editor hates the manuscript and you- like your very guts, and she wants you to hate it too and possibly she wants everyone in the entire world to hate that ugly, horrific, offensive-just-because-of-how-poorly-written-it-is piece of garbage. 

Never will it feel good to have someone rip apart something you care about so much and tell you to fix it. That will never ever ever feel good. 

But it's necessary. And the whole point of editing is to make you sound better, smarter and mostly better. Your editor is going to pick you apart. To the bones. But then she or he is going to help piece you back together and make something more polished, greater, more epic and definitely something more people can understand and enjoy. 

Do not let yourself get down at all the red marks you see painting your pretty white pages, and don't get defensive when she doesn't like your tone, or dash-usage or sarcasm. Listen to her. Take her advice and detach yourself from those original words.

Your original words, your first draft, or whatever.. .sucks. Just trust me on this one. It sucks.

I haven't even read it and I already know it sucks. 

That's just the nature of writing. This isn't even the first draft of my blog... That's how convicted I feel about this. 

Your editor is there to make it, and by default you, not suck. 

This also means, pick a good one. Pay a lot for her if you have to. But find someone you can work with. And that can handle working with you.

And on that same note. If you're with an editor/agent/publishing house that doesn't work for you. It's okay to leave and find someone that fits. This isn't a lifelong relationship built on friendship. This is two people with mutual business interests. (That part was an indirect quote from Sylvia Day.) 

Second. Your cover. 

One of the most exciting things as a writer is to title a book and then get a cover to match. 

For real, this is probably one of the most incredible things that happens. I love getting that special email that has an attachment announcing a new cover. I just LOVE opening that attachment and seeing that beautiful cover that represents the story I care about so deeply. 

I love revealing it. And showing it off. I love looking at the thumbnail version and uploading it to all my distributors. 

I love downloading my book and seeing my cover show up in my queue with all the other books out there. 

I just love every part. 

But... that doesn't mean, I'm not willing to trash the damn thing the minute it isn't working for me. 


And I don't mean you should keep changing and fixing and uploading new covers till you hit the bestsellers lists. That's a terrible idea. 

But once... once can be the greatest marketing idea for your book ever.

You could have the best book in the history of books buried beneath a cover that you love and everybody else hates. 

Or, more likely, you could have a book that deserves a shot... that is great and wonderful and has awesome potential, but the cover isn't eye-catching enough, or memorable enough, or caters to your taste specifically but not the rest of the reading-world. 

For whatever reason, us authors get really, really, really attached to our covers. We think that when a book gets a cover, it's like adoption. That cover has now become part of our book family and we would never let anything happen to that cover. Never. It's our child by association and we will protect it with our very lives. 

Grrrr, says Mama Bear. 

But the truth is, the cover is not your adopted child. It's a sleezeball you hired to work for you. And if that lazy SOB is not working for you, then fire his ass and send him and his plumber's crack back to the unemployment office.

Your taste- as painful as this is to hear- is not infallible. 

I've learned this with titling a book too. What I think sounds great, never actually works. Titles I would be drawn to naturally don't happen to be what the rest of the world is looking for. 

You have to get outside of yourself, give up on your "creative vision" and find the best way to market your product. 

Remember. Detach yourself completely. Find a way to actually sell your book. Or at the very least, get your book in front of other people so they see it and start remembering your name.

You have to think of this like a CEO running a multi-million dollar company. Or billion dollar or whatever. Do you think the head guys at McDonalds sit around making commercials for sandwiches that they "care" about? No. They don't. Can you imagine that meeting? 

CEO #1. "The Big Mac is losing money for us. It hasn't made profits for the last three quarters. The Big Mac is IN THE RED!!!"

CEO #2 "But I love the Big Mac. The Big Mac is my hamburger-baby. It's the first sandwich I ever had at McDonalds. It's what gave me the inspiration to go into business in the first place and become a CEO. It is the reason I live and breathe. I even dream about the Big Mac! I just love that sandwich so much. I just want to keep forever and ever and ever."

CEO #1 "You're right. I love that sandwich too. Let's keep it. We'll just eat the losses. Literally." 

No. Way.

Believe me. No matter how much clout the Big Mac has for McDonalds. No matter how much name recognition or customer-familiarity it brings... The minute it starts to lose money for them, they are rebranding the hell out of it. And if that doesn't work, I promise you they would "retire" it. Then they could bring it out for "limited time only" specials and make up for having it permanently off the menu.

That's how you have to picture your books. No matter how much you love a book, it doesn't love you back unless it's making money for you. 

Make it make you money. 

We can talk all day long about the pure passion of this career, and writing simply because you can't imagine doing anything else. But the truth is, unless these passion projects of yours are bringing in the cash, it can't be a career.

It will only ever be a hobby.

Be flexible. Be detached so you can take the emotion out of it and look at it objectively. Be innovative. And be informed. 

Knowledge is power, people!! Find out what people are buying. Or what they want to buy. 

Cater to the readers. Not your narcissistic muse. 

Your muse doesn't care about bringing home the bacon. Your muse doesn't even care about your family. She's a selfish brat. 

Only listen to her when you're in your writing cave. The rest of the stuff is all business. And you have to be a shark to keep up with it. 

Third and Finally. 

Some books just don't work. It doesn't matter how perfectly written it is, or how imaginative the story is. Sometimes, the book just doesn't hit the mark with readers. 

And it SUCKS.

Of course it does!!! It's like you got shivved! By people you trusted!! Et tu, Brutus? (Or however that goes.) 

But the good news is, that you get to keep writing. 

So what? That project didn't work. You spent time and effort developing something that flopped. You sweated. You screamed. You cried. You got counseling. And for what?? Nothing. 

It was a dismal failure. And now you feel like a failure. 

Only you're not.

Sure, that product doesn't sell... but that happens All. The. Time. 

Does anyone remember Clear Pepsi??? What happened to Clear Pepsi? Do we even know?? 

Or how about the sheer amount of television shows that are canceled? I loved the Black Donnellys. LOVED it. 

It made it to like six whole episodes and then died. 


You can believe in something until the cows come home but there are just those certain projects that do. not. work. 

And that's alright. Because your brain still works. And your ideas still happen. And you get new visions and develop new dreams. 

Write another great project. And then another. And then another one after that. Write until you have so much money you can go swimming in it like Scrooge McDuck and buy islands for fun and take helicopters to book signings because you don't have time for anything else. 

The important thing is, you stay flexible. 

Don't get attached. 

Get very detached. 

Realize that every book baby you write is not a baby at all, but a marketable product that you need to push. Not only will that open up all kinds of doors for you, but it takes the feeling of  failure out of it too. Save your emotions for what you put into the words. The rest is all business. 

It's not personal. It's business. 

Monday Tuesday Thursday Wednesday... 

Okay, that was the last Godfather quote. I swear. 

For at least today.  




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  1. Damn, nest the whole 'ten reasons not to be a writer' this blog has made me have all kinds of feels. I don't know how you can be attached and then unattached. That is the scariest thing ever. I am afraid. But thank you RH for giving me some much needed perspective. Now I need to go and do some research. And by research I mean drink. ;)

  2. hi i love you star crossed series and after reading this i realized just how many things i read that i love but almost never review or comment even though i pledge that i will. i know this is a great disservice to the authors and the potential customers who are looking for references but sometimes im either so busy looking for my next book to read or my thoughts on WHY i liked it are so tangled that i cant get them out in a recognizable manner. Im a reader, not a writer...and if im like that then there are probably others so anytime it seems like it may be time to give up on a story or your blogs are pointless because of a shortage of feedback keep that in mind. I really appreciate updates but 99% of the time i go looking for a release date or something if its not there, i dont ask, and if it is there i dont comment or say thanks for the heads up so im say it now.

  3. Hi Rachel, I'm a fellow indie author - or trying to be. I loved this post. It encompasses everything a writer feels when it comes to their stories. I plan to launch my first book in the fall and I'm absolutely terrified! Knowing that I'm not alone in this feeling is deeply comforting, and even more reassuring is the fact that this feeling will never go away and that's okay. Thank you for sharing much needed guidance in the world of self publishing. Your books are wonderful! Keep doing what you're doing :)