Teens Can Write, Too!

Changing the world's opinion… as soon as we finish this math homework

It’s Not You, It’s Me

But can we at least still be friends? 

Okay. Sorry. I had to do that. I’m not actually breaking up with you, though; I’m just stating a publishing fact. “It’s not you, it’s me” is something you probably have heard and will hear in various forms all throughout your writing life. After all, writing is art, and by definition art is all about interpretation. Therefore, many different people can interpret your book in many different ways, which means almost everyone’s experience reading your book will be different.

Basically: some people will get your book. They’ll get what you’re trying to say, what themes you want to convey, what concepts you’re attempting to explore. They’ll get your characters, your plot, your writing style, your voice. They’ll just get it.

But then some people won’t.

By definition, like with all art, some people won’t like your book. Does that make them stupid? Not at all. Does that make it your fault? Definitely not. The crazy thing is, someone not liking your book means next to nothing about the quality of your work. It’s just that, for whatever reason, your characters or your writing or some part of your book didn’t click with one reader. That’s all there is to it. Because that not “getting” it reflects more on the reader’s personal tastes than it is does on the quality of your writing.

This kind of thing happens in less black-and-white ways, too. Maybe someone will ABSOLUTELYLOVELOVE the themes in your book, but will despire your main character, or think your plot is way too predictable, or some combination of things. Maybe they’ll fall in love with your main character, but think the love interest is a terrible match for him or her. Who knows! The point is, for every group who loves your book there will be a person who hates it, and for every group who hates it there will be a person who loves it–and it has almost nothing to do with the book itself.

This concept sends the perfectionists of the world reeling (*raises hand*), but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true. And yeah, I’m sure we’ve all heard this before. “Subjectivity” and all that crap. We know on the surface that not everyone will like our books, just as not everyone will like us, but still… deep down, a part of all of us hopes we’ll be the exception to that rule. That we’ll be beloved by all. But the truth is, there are not exceptions. Not in the real world, not in the book world. For example, on Goodreads, The Fault In Our Stars by my pizza-loving idol, John Green, is the highest rated book-that-has-over-100,000-Goodreads-ratings, and yet even it has thousands of one-star reviews, has people who think it’s one of the worst books ever written.

But that’s just how art works.

That’s just how life works.


If you’re querying, you will get rejections. If you send your book to all of friends, some will not love it. If you publish your book, you will get bad reviews. It’s just a fact. It happens, and sometimes, you just need to cry over it, and that’s okay. But then you need to learn to relinquish control, and accept that rejections are inevitable. Because the beautiful thing about art is that the reverse is also true:

If you’re querying, you will get full requests. If you’re sending your book to friends, you’ll get people who love every bit of it. If you publish your book, you’ll get glowing reviews from.

It’s that. obnoxiously. freaking. simple.


Or if that doesn’t help, and you’re in the midst of Rejection Suck, PUPPY GIFS ARE ALWAYS THE ANSWER. LIKE SO:


About Michael Waters

I'm Michael, I'm eighteen, and I blog about YA books for Barnes & Noble.

6 comments on “It’s Not You, It’s Me

  1. Amanda
    April 27, 2013

    Very true. And the reason everyone says it is BECAUSE it’s true, and sometimes it takes a lot to knock that into our thick writer heads. xD

  2. Charley R
    April 27, 2013

    Fantastic post, John! And, in a slightly mangled version of what you said: for every reader who dislikes your book, there will always be another who will like it. It’s just a matter of finding and reaching the right people – hence why researching your agents is such an important part of the process. Finding one who will gel with you and your story is a massive help to your prospects of getting published at all!

  3. Liam, Head Phil
    April 27, 2013

    This, essentially, is the reason no one has found a logarithm for creating the perfect story, and the reason we keep reading new books. No book will please everyone, but there will be books that will please you, which is really all that matters.

  4. cait
    April 27, 2013

    I like the quote that says: “There are 3 rules for writing a book. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.” (I can’t remember who said it though!

    Mm, pretty encouraging post! I’m wondering though, when should you call it quits at querying? Sometimes, it IS you, but how do you know when?

  5. Pingback: How To Publish Your Book: Traditional Publishing: Literary Agents, Query Letters, And What The Big Deal Is | Teens Can Write, Too!

  6. Pingback: How To Publish Your Book: Self-Publishing: Amazon KDP, Debut Status, and All That Fun Stuff | Teens Can Write, Too!

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