Chapter 6: The Feedback Fiasco

Aristotle said, "Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing."

Approaching friends, family, and strangers to serve as beta readers for your funny story can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. I know there are wrong ways to do this because I've done it. If you are a former multi-level marketer, be prepared for an icy reception, possibly even anger! Here are some suggestions on how to approach them and how to respond to their feedback:(Con'd)

Start by selecting individuals who you think will provide honest and constructive feedback. Look for people who enjoy the genre you're writing in and have a good sense of humor. When approaching them, be clear about what you're asking for. Let them know that their opinion is invaluable and that you deeply appreciate their role in shaping your story. Offer them a brief summary of the story to pique their interest and explain what kind of feedback you're looking for. Make it clear that you welcome both positive comments and constructive criticism.

Just say, "Thank you." Once you've received feedback from your beta readers, take some time to digest it before reacting. It's natural to respond emotionally to feedback, but try to approach it with an open mind and remember—you asked.

Take notes. Feedback is subjective, and not everyone will have the same opinions about your story. Focus on the common themes or issues that arise from multiple readers rather than getting bogged down by individual views. Look for patterns in the feedback. If numerous readers point out the same problem, it's likely something that needs to be addressed. Be grateful for the time and effort your beta readers have put into providing feedback, even if it's not all positive. Constructive criticism is essential for growth as a writer.

When responding to feedback, acknowledge the points raised by your beta readers, even if you don't agree with all of them. Thank them for taking the time to read your story and share their thoughts. Following is a worst-case scenario.

Let's imagine an all-too-common occurrence where an author receives feedback from beta readers on their manuscript. One beta reader suggests that the pacing in the middle of the story is slow and could use some tightening. Another beta reader mentioned that they found one of the main characters to be unlikeable and difficult to connect with. The author takes this feedback personally, feeling defensive and hurt by the criticisms.

Instead of objectively considering the feedback and looking for ways to improve their manuscript, the author becomes defensive and dismisses the feedback outright. They might respond by saying things like, "Well, I poured my heart and soul into this story, and if you don't like it, then maybe it's just not for you," or "You just don't understand my vision for this character."

Because they did not take the feedback into account, the author decided not to make any changes to their manuscript. They proceeded to publish the book as is, convinced that their work was perfect and didn't need any alterations. Unfortunately, when the book is released to the public, it receives overwhelmingly negative reviews. Readers cite the slow pacing in the middle of the story and the lack of connection to the characters as major flaws. The book sales suffer, and the author's reputation takes a hit, and he considers never writing again.

In this scenario, the worst thing that could result from the author taking feedback as a personal hit is that their book fails to resonate with readers, ultimately damaging their writing career. Had the author been more open to constructive criticism and willing to acknowledge the points raised by their beta readers, they could have addressed the weaknesses in their manuscript and produced a more substantial, more engaging book.

Keep the baby and most of the bathwater. Decide which suggestions resonate with you and align with your vision for the story. Implement changes that will strengthen the narrative while staying true to your voice as a writer. It's okay to respectfully push back against feedback that you feel doesn't align with your creative vision but do so in a courteous and professional manner.

A writer needs to strike a balance between being open to feedback and staying true to their artistic vision. While it's valuable to consider the perspectives of beta readers and other critics, ultimately, the writer must trust their instincts and make decisions that align with their creative vision. It's okay to consider feedback and make revisions accordingly, but it's also important not to lose sight of the story's core message or the writer's unique voice. Ultimately, remember that you are the author of your story, and the final decision rests with you. 

Add comment


There are no comments yet.