Your next book should always be your best book. Writing is a learning process. At least that’s true for me. If we’re serious about the craft of writing and open to the process that goes into creating a book, we are always learning more about our writing and stretching our boundaries and limits.
Some writers embrace the editing process while others see it as a chore. I’m in the former group. I love the editing process. I love getting a fresh perspective on what I’ve written and having the opportunity to tighten up my writing and add color to my scenes and my characters from another point of view. That doesn’t mean I always agree with an editor’s suggestions, but I certainly consider them and try them out to see how they fit. In the end, I’m the one who best knows my story and my characters. But I owe it to myself and to my editors to give consideration to their suggestions.
Writers benefit from listening to feedback from their readers as well. I know some writers hold to the notion that you should never read reviews. I say, “Why not?” Sure there are reviewers out there who do a lousy job of reviewing, either telling the entire story in their review or slamming a book without obviously having read it. And there are good, honest reviews that reflect the reader’s thoughts and considerations about the story. Some reviews give a higher rating than others. I appreciate honest reviews and I try to take something away from them that informs me in writing the next book. I don’t let negative reviews get me down. I do let positive reviews buoy me up and nudge me forward. Everyone has a right to their opinion.
I take writing seriously, but not so seriously that it ceases to be fun. When it stops being fun, I’ll be finished. I owe it to myself and to my readers to work at this business of writing to make the next book the best I’ve ever written. Most writers, if they will be honest with themselves and go back to read their earliest work, can see the changes and improvements in their writing. If they can’t, well, they might want to re-evaluate their career choice.