Last week, I blogged about giving feedback to other writers. Today’s post is about receiving feedback and the myriad of emotions that pop up. It’s tough. You’ve worked really hard on your manuscript, and now someone is telling you there are problems or that they don’t like something.
You have to develop thick skin if you’re going to be an author. You will always have critiques, criticisms, reviews, and comments. It’s hard, but you need to be realistic (and not emotional) if you want to improve your writing. The GOALS are to get published and to sell books. To do that, you need to hone your craft.
When I come back from critique group or get editorial feedback on my work, I try to wait a day before making changes. That usually gives me time to get over whatever emotions spun up from my first reaction to the comments. Scream, holler, run a mile, eat chocolate, dance in the kitchen, practice boxing, or do whatever helps you get centered. Allow yourself a little bit of time for your pity party. Then, pull up your big-girl pants and get on with your writing career. You can be sad or angry for a bit, but don’t wallow in it. If you want to be published, you have work to do.
After I’ve given myself some time, I look at the comments and changes. Sometimes, they’re not as bad as first perceived. A lot of boo boos are easily fixed. I go through the document and decide what changes I need to make.
When reading feedback from critique group members or beta readers, I look at each comment. If one person didn’t like or get something, it may be an outlier. If the majority of the group had the same comment, I need to look at it.
You don’t have to accept every change that’s suggested. At the end of the day, you’re the writer, and it’s your story. You can often negotiate with editors and agents if you feel strongly about something that they’ve asked you to change, but be professional and leave emotions out of it when you approach them. And here’s the BUT — and it’s a big one… If the editor doesn’t budge, you may have to make a decision. Is the change worth fighting for?
I have been in several anthology projects where a new writer decided that he/she did not want the story edited AT ALL. The coordinator talked to them and explained the editing process that the group decided on was for a quality book (in this case, it was a three-level editing process). The publisher insisted that all stories would be edited. Two of the authors stood firm, and their stories were removed from the book. Decide what you can live with. Professional feedback is to make your work stronger and more marketable.
Everyone has ideas and opinions. And everyone will tell you about what they like and don’t like to your face and on social media. Don’t get in a confrontation or a social media war. Even if you delete posts and comments, they’re still out there somewhere in Internetland. It looks defensive and unprofessional when you start a shouting match. It is so easy to bang out a heated response to something, but don’t. It never helps, and it could damage your brand.
Getting feedback, especially early in your career is tough. If you want to be published, you have to be tenacious and always looking for ways to improve. Criticisms and critiques are a big part of this.