Hello!

For this month’s #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, I decided to talk about incorporating feedback. As many of you know, Pitch Wars is fast approaching, and many have turned to the forums for critiques of their query and/or pages. But receiving too much feedback (on forums, or from CPs/beta readers) can be overwhelming. Hopefully, these tips will help πŸ™‚

  1. Communicate. Explain what kind of feedback you’re looking for: big picture, line edits, compliment sandwich, blunt honesty, etc. Also, what you’d like them to look at specifically (characters, plot, etc.). This way, people can better help you with their critique.
  2. Step away.Β Sometimes, it might be tempting to immediately dismiss a piece of feedback. What I’d suggest is to read the feedback and let it sit for a few days. You might not agree with it right away, but some distance might help you see through a different perspective and change your mind.
  3. Don’t feel pressured to incorporate all notes and suggestions.Β You know your story best, so if you’ve given it a few days and some notes/suggestions still don’t click with you – that’s okay. But if numerous people have pointed out the same problem, it’s worth taking a second look. Also, keep in mind that there is usually more than one solution to a problem. So even if someone’s specific suggestion doesn’t work for you, it might help you come up with your own solution.
  4. Limit the number of people you ask for feedback.Β This might be more difficult on forums, but try to limit the number of CPs and beta readers working on one manuscript. Some things are very subjective, and having a bunch of conflicting advice is more likely to confuse you than help. Each person might have a different number they are comfortable with. Personally, I’d stick with 2-3.

 

Do you have any additional tips for incorporating feedback? Feel free to comment below!

 

 

12 Comments

  1. Are you taking part in Pitch Wars this year? If so, good luck!! Feedback can be really hard to take when you’re so close to your MS, especially if it’s the story of your heart, but getting a second and third pair of eyes on your story is so important. Great post Hoda!

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  2. Great tips! One thing that I’d add is to show appreciation for the constructive criticism you use so that the people who offered it to you know that they’re appreciated. It’s a good idea to be friendly to the people who helped you most so that they can help again in the future!

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  3. I blinked and saw ‘blunt honey,’ and I was like, that’s a new one. I wonder how that works. lol πŸ™‚ After I wrote my first book, I lucked out and heard about PitchWars, and I jumped all over that train. I was trialing so many critique partners, and in the end, I was plum brain-drained. It’s soooo much work, but I did find a great long-term CP as a result.

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  4. I’ve done online classes where we were each asked to critique the work of our classmates. The feedback was fabulous, but compiling it was a huge challenge! Thanks for the tips.

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  5. BetaBooks is an app that helps writers and readers come together and helps the write organize feedback. I made the mistake once of sending out my manuscript to too many readers at the same time. I found it hard to keep track of the advice, but on the other hand, the value of seeing if the readers all had the same issue helped. If more than on reader said a section was dull, then it probably way πŸ™‚

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  6. This reminds me of a quote I once heard. “If someone tells you there’s a problem with your story, odds are they’re right. If someone tells you how to fix it, odds are they’re wrong.”
    I definitely agree that knowing what kind of feedback the author is looking for is important, though at the same time, I personally often favor letting audiences initially provide whatever feedback they naturally come up with, and then offer some guided questions after receiving their free form response. I think allowing audiences to respond naturally often helps them respond in ways that are their natural strengths. For example, I have one friend who is great at the rhythm and structure of sentences, but she isn’t as good at seeing the big picture patterns of the themes and conflicts, while others seem to excel at condensing numerous details into an overall big picture.
    It’s interesting that you prefer to keep the number of readers small. I actually find that I favor a larger sample, because I do find that people often recognize a weak point, but may miss the underlying cause. I had one such experience where every reader felt that the protagonist felt distant or passive, but each had a radically different idea about how to solve the issue. It wasn’t until one person suggested adding more challenges, and using those challenges to create additional ups and downs that I felt like I understood what the others were trying to say.
    I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed, which is why I often make it a rule that I read the feedback, and ask follow up questions, but don’t actively try to revise the story until I’ve let it sit for a while (sometimes as long as a month). A little temporal distance can work wonders, and starting/engaging another story can also help one to return to the prior story with fresh eyes.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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