As a follow-up to Five Ways to Tell You Do Not Want Feedback, I wanted to share six great ways to show you do want feedback and to help you make good use of the time with your “Feedbacker”. I’m sure that’s a word. Don’t look it up.
I strongly believe that good feedback on my writing is like gold. It’s often rare, but it is so precious. I have valued the feedback from people more than I can express. Sometimes they tell me things I do not like. Sometimes they tell me things I can’t use. Most of the time, they tell me things that save me the embarrassment of poor writing and poor storytelling.
I think good feedback is so very important to an author. Here is some advice on how to receive it well:
1. Lean in
I mean it… physically, lean in! If you’re really into a movie or a book, you probably find that you’re actually leaning toward the screen or book. It’s the same with a story. If someone really has you on figurative the edge of your seat, look down. You are probably also on the literal edge of your seat.
When you are genuinely interested in something, you naturally lean in. So if you really want feedback, overcome the feeling of shyness and the fear of someone having found a problem in your writing… and lean in! Show yourself interested.
2. Smile lots
Nothing is more inviting than a smile (well, maybe french fries). Remember, it’s hard for people to give you feedback. Consider what they are doing. They are telling you that something you poured your heart and soul into is not perfect. That’s hard to do! Don’t make it harder on them than it has to be. They are doing you a favor. Smile. Help them feel at ease while they share with you the things they want to say to help you be successful in your writing!
They are actually giving you a very precious gift when they tell you about the areas of your writing that need improvement. Let me give you an example. In Book Two of the series which I am looking to publish next year (2018), one of my characters needs to be rewritten. I learned this from those who were kind of enough to read my book and give me feedback (I don’t think I would have known otherwise). I think the book will be stronger and more exciting because of these changes.
What a gift! When someone gives you a gift, smile!
3. Let people finish their sentences
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to talk to someone who can’t let you finish your sentence. It is a clear and undeniable statement that they really don’t want to hear what you have to say.
Do you actually want to hear what they have to say? Let them finish! Hear them out. Pay attention and treasure the feedback they give!
4. Take notes
This is obvious. Unless you’ve written a one sentence book and can remember all the feedback given, take notes. Write it all down!
I have a cousin who is an author. He reads my work and then writes down copious amounts of notes so it saves me the work of taking notes myself. I read each and every one of his notes and think each and every one of his suggestions through!
When someone gives you feedback which you do not actually plan on using say, “Thanks!” and then, write their feedback down! You may find that more than one person comments on that same issue and that is a sign you need to pay attention to it. Just because you don’t want to change something, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be changed.
Write everything down if you can.
5. Ask questions
People giving feedback will sometimes tell you what they like. They might start out by saying, “I enjoyed this” or “this part was my favorite”. But often times, someone who reads your book in order to give you feedback is looking for problems. That’s why you asked them to read it, right?
Ask what it is they liked. Pay attention to this because it’s probably different than what you liked and probably different than what you thought they would like! This is really important because you are hoping your readers will enjoy your book. If you have a favorite part of the book, but no one else likes it, that’s an indication that you shouldn’t be writing your story to revolve around that one thing. Sometimes the best character in the book is not the person you thought it would be as you wrote your book.
Ask them what they did not like. Pay attention to this as well. It may be personal for them (they don’t like characters who yell or they want all the characters to act a certain way). It may also be that they and all your readers will find certain parts of the book hard to handle. Ask them why. Learn from what they have to say to you!
If you disagree with them, ask them why they are suggesting those changes. Don’t challenge. Don’t disagree. Don’t tell them why you think they are wrong. Just ask more questions.
6. Thank them profusely!
Why would you do this?
Why wouldn’t you???
They have just told you the very things you need to hear. They have told you what a reader thinks of the book. They have told you where they struggled, what upset them, what moved them and what seemed funny (did you intend it to be funny?).
What a gift! Thank people for giving you gifts!
There you have it! Six ways to receive feedback on your book. Check out my blog on Five Ways to Tell You Do Not Want Feedback and comment below on what you think about the whole “receiving feedback” thing!