Morning all, I hope your week has been filled with sunshine and smiles.
I’m working really hard on another round of edits at the moment, thanks to feedback from my first readers. The sheer support, useful feedback and encouragement from these readers has made this next step very exciting.
Readers have included my wonderful fiance and my best friend, as well as some of my friends from this online writing community. (Huge amazing thank you to K.M. Allan and Aarika Copeland – you are both so wonderful!)
So today I want to talk about reasons all writers should seek feedback, despite the fear. It is such an anxious thought, the prospect of sharing your work, and I personally never thought I’d manage it. But I’m so glad I did, and you will be to. Just take a look at these amazing reasons why.
1. Feedback helps you improve
When you seek feedback you want to ensure you are being given honest opinions. This means not just being told what works but what doesn’t. This can be really hard. Undoubtedly, by this point, you’ve spent a lot of time writing your story and negative feedback can be difficult to accept. However, constructive criticism is vital. It will help you find everything from typos and errors to plot holes, weak characters and boring subplots. It may be gut wrenching to have these things pointed out, but it’s better to come from beta readers than agents. It means you’ll have time to improve the story and make it even better.
2. Feedback can boost your confidence
When a beta reader gives you constructive criticism it doesn’t always mean they didn’t enjoy the story. And even if the story wasn’t for them (no work of literature is enjoyed by everybody) they may still have something positive to say about your style and skill. What I’m saying is, we all know what it’s like to have writer’s doubt. We doubt if our story is exciting, entertaining, surprising…we only have our own opinion to go on and often our own opinions are tainted with self-consciousness and a need for perfection. Receiving positive feedback can really boost your confidence and help you realise that others can and will enjoy your story.
3. Feedback can help with submissions
I read somewhere once that agents don’t want to feel as though they’re the first people to have ever read your manuscript. I’m not saying you should never submit your novel until it’s been read by others; at the end of the day that’s your choice. But for the reasons stated above, your novel is likely to be more polished after advice from readers, making it as ready as it can be for submissions.
Some tips on finding readers
You can definitely ask friends and family to read your novel. In fact, I encourage it. But be aware that no matter how frank and honest they are, they may still be slightly bias. It’s always worth asking impartial readers to take a look too. There are beta readers and editors who offer this service online; don’t just blindly ask them. These are professionals, earning a living with their skill. Be prepared to pay. Alternatively, you can seek out friends from your online writing community. This can work really well by offering to return the favour, and reading each other’s work for free, in exchange for honest feedback. Not only that, but this is a great way to get a glimpse at an up and coming story that could well be published in the near future. I’ve read and provided feedback for one so far, and absolutely loved the story. Everybody’s a winner!
You don’t have to take any of your feedback as gospel. Everybody has different opinions, and at the end of the day your story needs to be yours. You get the final say. Don’t dismiss suggestions just because you don’t like the feedback; take some time to consider if you should act upon the advice or not. But never feel as though you need to make every single change suggested to you, not if you don’t want to. Your story, your rules.
Has anyone else sought feedback on their novels/stories? Or perhaps you’re finding the prospect too daunting? I’d love to hear your thoughts so do comment below, or contact me, for a chat.