Getting Feedback

Getting feedback is a huge part of a writer's life. Anyone can sit in front of a computer and pound on keys, making legible words and sentences, but when it comes to being a real writer we have to also relish the feedback we receive. Even if it's negative we need to learn from it and realize that changes need to be made. This can be very hard for our fragile egos to take. When writing a novel or short story one of the best tools at our disposal is the alpha and beta readers. The people who have the first glimpse of our manuscripts, diamonds in the rough that they are, are invaluable. It isn't always enjoyable for them to slog through our purple prose, awkward sentences, typos, plot holes and any number of other deadly sins writers commit.

 Also, first readers donate their valuable time because they believe in us (or so I like to think.) The very least we can do is graciously accept their feedback, take what we can use and leave what we can't, and learn from every comment made. Sure, you don't have to actually make the changes that are suggested but you still have to be gracious, thankful, and above all professional.

I am thankful for my first readers, even though when I initially open a document and see all the comments I am a little disheartened. Besides, who doesn't like improving their writing? We can't let our egos get in the way by thinking we are the most brilliant writer around and that we are the only one who could possibly understand our story. If that's the case then readers probably aren't going to like it. If you're writing only for yourself then fine, you can be the only one that understands the story. However, writers don't just write for themselves, they write for the public, and getting feedback allows us to improve what we deliver to the public.

First readers aside, after the story or book is published there will be reviews. Take negative reviews with a grain of salt. Chances are you can learn from them but don't let them get you down and above all DO NOT RETALIATE. No one wants to hear an author whine about how the review was unfair or get angry that the reviewer didn't do this or that or has no clue what they're talking about. If anything that will hurt you. And besides, not everyone is going to like your writing. Maybe there was too much blood and gore and the reader didn't like that but someone else will see that review and think, "hey, that sounds like a book I'd enjoy." Reviews can be helpful, even when they seem negative.

So when receiving feedback, whether from first readers, reviews, or family and friends remember to always, always, ALWAYS act professional and gracious. Feedback is a good thing.