Maintain Your Voice (Incorporating Feedback)

I’m having a minor soap box moment. The more books I write, the more I discover that my original method of just writing for myself was and still is the best was to hold onto my voice as a writer.
With three books out and more on the way, I get feedback on my writing regularly from multiple sources. Between reviews, comments on Kindle, fans contacting me through various social media, my network of helpers (beta readers, critique group, author friends, etc.), I have a steady stream of helpful information about my writing and books.  I appreciate every piece of feedback that I get – it all gives me great food for thought on what’s working and what isn’t. However, if I tried to incorporate every single piece of feedback I get into my next book, I’d go round the bend in a hurry.
There’s a very logical and reasonable explanation for the diverse opinions and responses I receive … every reader has different preferences. Some people like the romance part and want to see more of that, some like the fights and want more of that, some like the relationships and want more of that. But even more than that, people have different preferences on how their preferred sections work out.
I, for example, am not a fan of a series that starts out with one romantic interest and then switches mid-series. In my opinion, it makes the female lead seem fickle and the romance seem juvenile. Have I seen it done effectively? Absolutely. Still not my favorite.

Back to my ’round the bend’ comment. Like I said, if I tried to incorporate every single review and opinion I’d become schizophrenic. For example, I’ve received feedback that Ramsey and Lila are now some readers new favorite couple, and to please put more romance like that in future books. But I’ve also received feedback that the romance in that book was unbelievable and over the top.

Now, like I said, I LOVE to get feedback – both positive and constructive. I am far from perfect and I’m committed to constantly improving my writing. Feedback is an excellent way to do that. I also have tough skin (working in a large ‘Corporate America’ tech company for almost 10 years helped with that), so the constructive/negative stuff doesn’t upset me – it challenges me.
However, I am also learning that my voice is the most important aspect of my writing. When I wrote Blue Violet, I wrote it only for myself. I had a story in my head and I wanted to see where it was going to go. I got lucky when I decided to self-publish and discovered readers who liked what I wrote.
The tricky part is filtering through the feedback and determining what fits with my voice and my vision (and my style), and what doesn’t. It’s very tempting to start writing to please everyone in the hopes that I’ll find more readers that way. But then I’ll lose myself, lose my voice, in the process. No thanks!I will write to please myself – as a reader – at all times. I will read each piece of feedback and consider every one seriously. I will incorporate what I think fits. And then I will hope that what I’ve written strikes a chord with others, and be thrilled when it does. Sure, I’ll also be disappointed when it doesn’t, but with the understanding that I’ll never please everyone. And that’s okay. If all the books in the world pleased everyone, it would be very boring indeed.

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