So you have written your manuscript and have finally put enough polish into it to be ready to hand it off to beta readers. After all, beta feedback is a vital part of the editing process and a crucial must if you want to make your manuscript better. Many sets of eyes and minds can give you vital feedback to not only improve your work, but find and correct major or minor plot, arc, or character issues. So here is the turmoil every author will face, mean people on the internet.
Okay, let’s be serious for a moment. Part of receiving feedback is to separate the constructive feedback from the non-constructive feedback. This is something every author will face, and it’s how to handle criticism.
Genuine criticism and critique aren’t another person attacking you. You have to remember the person who has given you advice has taken the time to read your manuscript and provide feedback. So what should you do? If you are in a writer’s group or open forum, let the person giving critique talk. Don’t discourage them; you may miss out on something valuable. If this is verbal feedback, then take notes, and only interrupt to ask for clarification.Listen to what they have to say. A beta reader who has taken the time to read your work, may have identified a potential problem. Not everyone sees the world in the same light, and what you see is perfect—someone else may see problems that have been overlooked.Remember, you are now the observer of the feedback. Your job is not to defend your writing; that’s what the next round of edits is for. You don’t have to take every suggestion, but pick through and try to diagnose what problems are consistent amongst your readers. If more than one reader identifies an issue, then this may be a core problem that needs to be addressed. Carefully consider what feedback you have, and then make changes to address any issues identified.
Not everyone will like your work
Remember writers groups and beta readers are there to give you feedback and hone your craft. You are requesting help to continuously improve as an author. Remember not everyone will like your work, and no matter how long you work on it, there is no way you can implement every suggestion and make everyone happy. There is a small percentage of people who can write a perfect book the first time, but chances are you are not one of them. Publishing a first draft may not be the best option, especially when releasing your work onto the internet. What goes on the internet stays on the internet and unfortunately, even if you remove and revise the work in the future, the reviews and stars given to you will not be.
Don’t be discouraged by negative feedback
The next area of criticism comes in the way of reviews. Don’t be discouraged by a bad review. Again, if the review is genuine from someone who has taken the time to read your work, pay attention to the critical feedback they are giving. They most likely are not a troll,, and this isn’t a personal attack so pay attention to what they have to say and use it to hone your craft.
Responding to feedback in a negative tone won’t cast a positive light on you or your brand. If, however, you come across a troll, you have the option to ignore them. Not responding is the best practice. Your job is not to correct them, and they don’t need to contact you prior to posting a negative review. Your work will always be interpreted differently, and the signs are there if you are not getting the feedback you are after. If you have an overwhelming negative reaction to your work, look at what is being said. There may be some valuable information there that will not only help you improve your manuscript but make you a better author.
Take time to separate your creative work from your self, and take the time to critically review what you have written. If people are giving you feedback its because they are trying to help, so pay attention and reach your true potential as an author.