On Using Criticism to Level Up, from Author Delilah S. Dawson

I normally write a way more wordy post every week. But this thread on when and how to take criticism on your work was just too perfect. Enjoy:

(It’s a thread. Be sure to click through it and read the whole thing!)

And now, an unrelated thought-dump on blogging, and what topics to blog about!

In completely unrelated news, there’s an offhanded comment in that Twitter thread about how outdated social media guidance used to tell folks to blog about writing–which is what I’m doing here. (I knew the advice when I started, ironically; I just like talking about process.) That’s actually something I grapple with: goodness knows there’s only so much advice you can get out of lil’ ol’ me, a lady with a handful of very minor publishing credits. I haven’t made it yet, either.

But I’d like to think that this blog is more about things I’ve read and thought about, and occasionally stuff I actually do know quite a lot about–from a professional “I do this as my day job” way–like editing and formatting things in Word. I certainly don’t tell people how to do things I haven’t accomplished, like, er, selling a lot of books. (I hope so, at least. Golly.) But that’s why most of mine are about talking about the much more universal experience of how it feeeeeeels to submit to agents.

That said, this is something I’ve grappled with a lot, as most platform-building books talk about how you should blog about things related to your genre, your book’s theme, or the topic you specialize in, which… is advice that’s very easy to apply to non-fiction writers, and extremely hard to apply to genre. I write light action-adventure fantasy that spans a lot of different flavors and styles. “Here are my characters! Here’s what I’m writing! I’m doing some worldbuilding”-style posts feel navel-gazey and totally boring to anyone who’s not me–and I feel like I’d have to actually cultivate a fangirl or two before anyone particularly cares what I think about Faye Whitlock, the protagonist from Justice Unending, for example.

Anyway! Ironically, all of this is also extremely navel-gazey–I’m sure most readers also don’t care about what I’m blogging about!

In any case, it’s something I have–and will continue to–brood over. Carving out your niche online, that thing where you say “This is what I like to talk about and what I think I can successfully share” is hard, and it’s something I think I’ll be grappling with for a while.

5 thoughts on “On Using Criticism to Level Up, from Author Delilah S. Dawson

  1. I had the same issue with blogging “on topic”: I can manage blogging about things that interest me in the hopes my potential readers are interested in the same things as me, but blogging about things closely related to my books hasn’t seemed to gain any interest when I have tried it.

    Given the “blog about your topic” stuff is often considered critical because it establishes a “funnel” in search engines, I’m not sure it works for most authors. After all, when was the last time you, or anyone you know, asked Google for “light fantasy authors”? Everyone I know looking for new fiction authors uses Amazon search rather than a generic search engine, so being high on the first page of Google might be a hollow achievement for anything other than esteem.

    1. Seriously, right? And in the grand scheme of things, blogs are kind of outdated anyway. It seems like a targeted newsletter and some savvy social media usage is probably a more effective strategy than worrying if a fantasy author has an on-target blog at this point. Maybe.

      Yeah. But I’ve complained about this same issue before. And probably will again. Branding is hard stuff!

  2. I feel you. It was extremely hard for me to pick a topic when I started blogging. My posts now range from my Nanowrimo experience to dyeing my hair……don’t know how I got there.
    But I found other people talking about their novels extremely interesting! Perhaps because my characters and worlds are very dear to me and I feel the same tenderness through other people’s posts. PS: I like your book title!

    1. And that’s great! At least it’s a genuine representation of stuff you’re into, and hey, I read a thread last week about how just humanizing yourself is a good start to a “brand.” :) I was always kind of intending to do posts all over the place, too, honestly–I have a few baking posts buried in this blog–but I haven’t done that in a while.

      And thank you, that’s very kind of you! :)

      1. Thank you! I want to write about life in general but it’s such a broad topic :) That’s a really good point! Wow, I need to find them! Baking is meditative for me and I really want to try it more. I love when your whole house smells like a bakery!
        You’re welcome!

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