Subject: what do you do with conflicting feedback?
Amanda kindly invited me to be a guest blogger and I'm honored to be here.
Today I’m going to talk about being a novelist and what you do when given conflicting feedback.
I’ve just recently finished my third novel and sent it out for review before sending it up to the publisher. Now, let me explain what I do when I send a book out for review.
I like to choose four or five people whose opinions I trust. I asked them first if they would be interested in reading the manuscript of my newest novel and then send it to them, giving them a deadline for getting their comments back. I send a disclaimer asking them not to divulge the contents of the book since it hasn’t been published yet and then tell them their names will be in the acknowledgements section.
My latest series is geared toward kids from 8 to 12 and the newest installment is a mystery called Mudder. I sent the novel out to five people … including a seventh grader … and received glowing reviews from everyone.
Then I sent it out to a woman who critiques for me in Colorado. This is one that I pay for because Laura does this kind of work for living. If you write kids books and you're interested in having a good, objective critique of your manuscript, get in touch with Laura Backes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I got her critique back last week it was different from the critiques I got from my other readers. Laura felt that there was a pretty significant plotting problem that caused other ripples in the manuscript. On whole she liked it but gave me the sense that I needed to rewrite a good bit of it.
So who do you listen to? The casual, good time reader or the professional editor?
I think it's a mix of both. The thing that I found interesting is that the casual readers -- and I use that term loosely simply to describe those who aren't professional editors -- didn't say anything about having a plotting problem. In fact, they all said that they enjoyed the plot and thought that it moved well.
I think I'm probably going to go through the manuscript and make the changes that Laura suggested that don't include a major plot rewrite and see where it sits. It's very possible that the smaller changes help turn the plot to a point where there's been enough of a change.
The plotting issue that Laura brought up is that the book is called Mudder but he's not the main character. The mystery set at a sleep over camp in North Carolina is more of a focal point but Mudder isn’t intricately involved until later in the book. Also, she felt that I had not put my main character, Kathy, in enough danger early enough. I think all of those points are valid and well taken and I'm going to have to decide how much editing I’m going to do to clean it up.
The point of this exercise is to let you know that you don't always have to listen to everyone who critiques or edits your book. Critiquing and editing is as subjective as the writing of your manuscript.
The next time you receive what appears to be conflicting feedback, put the editorial comments aside for a week or more and then look at them again. You can make the decision on whether you're going to do any substantive rewriting or not. It's your book and the decision rests with you.
I hope you all have a great day and that this has been of some help. Happy writing!
Best regards –