Is a book only as good as the feedback it receives? I've made this claim in my "benefits of membership" at my site, but I think this is one of those questions that’s really hard to answer definitively.
Can a book be written without receiving direct feedback? Of course. But will it be as good a book as it could be?
Doesn't it need the shaping of outside opinion in order to really shine?
I don’t know if it’s possible to live in a vacuum. I’ve never done it. And I’ve never seen a book without at least some outside influence. But I’ve seen plenty without enough. And they’re usually not very well presented. They lack perspective. The author simply doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. And so he writes the best he can and thinks he’s done. And then maybe he publishes it and people read it.
And it doesn’t sell much. And that's because it doesn't do much.
Sure, some people may like the story and even be influenced by it. Maybe some even say they really connected with it and like how personal it felt and it helped them see their lives more clearly.
That's the rare book that can do that without any help.
Publishing a book without having a long acknowledgments page is premature. When you have a full acknowledgements page, then you're ready to publish. We all need a lot of help—both before and after the writing—if for no other reason than that if it was up to us, we'd always sell the vision short.
And largely because we can't see it. That likely isn't our fault. We don't realize how important our stories truly are. We can’t see how much the vision is worth. Or how drastically it could change us in the process if we allowed it to be influenced and shaped by other trustworthy mentors and confidants.
How many people are told that they are the primary reason God gave them the vision for the book in the first place? I believe some writers never hear that, the truth that could make all the difference in their work and lives, because they didn't seek trustworthy opinions about the vision. And that's what I'd give my entire collection of books on writing to put a stop to, once and for all.
The truth is, despite all the misinformation and well-meaning speculation, God gives endless inspiration to those who will receive it, and it's always first and foremost for the recipient (Exhibit A: 1 Samuel 3). And maybe sometimes it’s not for others at all! But so many well-intentioned people have this notion that God only loves us for what we do, and if we’re writers or we're in creative work, then that must mean we'll be more loved if we "submit" to sharing it.
And that is simply garbage.
Is it time you took out the garbage? What vision have you received? Do you believe that message is for you? Hold that thought. Don't do anything with it yet. Don't even think about sharing that vision until you've let it clean you up a bit. It's taken me 10 years of writing my novel for me to realize this: love is not dependent on anything but our bold, guilt-free acceptance.
Forget what may or may not happen later. God doesn’t want your book (yet).
He wants all of your heart.
And for no other reason than because that's all you really have to give.*
*Oh, and he also gave you that heart. Hold that thought too.