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Monday, February 10, 2014

Accepting Feedback

Good Morning, Evening, Afternoon, whatever applies to when you are reading this.

I want to follow up my last Monday post last week
about what it means to be an author with a life lesson I have had to learn. I have to accept feedback. As you may be aware of, my first officially published novel wasn't The Crystal Needle, it was The Jalan Chronicles. With that book I gained something unexpected, a troll. A person who spent his time and efforts trying to ruin me emotionally through nasty, underhanded online tactics. As you can probably guess, such an experience left me wary of accepting reviews and critiques of my work.

If you want to read more about my horrid experience with that troll and book, please click HERE

To be entirely honest, accepting critiques of my work has been hard my whole life. I have yet to meet an author who can say otherwise. We love praise but resent criticism. The real challenge is learning to listen to that criticism when it is meant to help. With my troll incident, he wasn't trying to help he was trying to hurt. But, when someone gives me feedback that isn't all glowing and positive I have to set aside my own pride for a moment and gain something from it. Grow through the advice and decide if it will make me a better writer for it. Often it does make me a better writer and sometimes it is just one persons opinion, either way it was never meant in malice.

Recently this has been a big issue with me due to a contest I plan on entering. This contest requires a pitch for my book to be written by me. A pitch is like that movie ad you watch that has you ready to watch the movie just because the ad was so good. It isn't a synopsis and it isn't a review, it is a pitch. I have to sell my book in less than 300 words to a judge. The judge will ONLY use the pitch to decide if the book is worthy enough to be passed onto the next level where they will actually read part of the book itself. Let me make one thing clear; I spent at least 3 months writing the first draft, around 2 months editing and refining to the second draft, another 3 months working with mother on creating the third rough draft, and then even longer working with beta readers and editors to get that to a point where I might consider it good enough to let a reader read it. After all this work pampering and babying a book, I am asked to turn all that into 300 words or less. Not only that, I have to make those 300 or less words be so inspirational about the book that anyone reading them should want to grab the book and read it. It isn't easy.

Fortunately I did not have to go this alone. There is a forum set up just to help the pitch writers for this contest. We get advice from successful authors and others going through the same struggle. Hardly ever is their critique of the pitch glowing, more often than not it is saying how it won't work. At first I just wanted to give up. I was frustrated and angry. Then I realized it wasn't my inability to write a pitch that had me upset, it was listening to negativity. Worse yet, it was the internal negativity that was inside me after reading a critique. Once I shoved my pride down into a hole and moved on by listening to them, I made progress. Now I have something worthy of the contest. Well, I hope it is but I am much more confident no matter the outcome.

Okay, that all said, you might understand better why we, authors, do enjoy reviews of our work. We struggle through that lengthy writing process, we stamp out our own ego and pride to listen to all the feedback, we pour our souls into something we know is going to be critiqued to within an inch of its life. When that is all through, having a reader just say, "This book was a fun read, I recommend it." justifies all that pain and anguish. So, be truthful with your reviews, be gentle but honest, but most importantly, WRITE THEM. We get enough negative and/or constructive criticism of our work to fill volumes of books, we need to know it was all worth it.

p.s. If you are wondering about the pics and how they relate to this post, they don't. I just thought some Valentines inspired images would be nice to decorate with this week.


  1. This whole post was eye opening and interesting.
    And I have to go read about your troll.
    Good luck with your competition. I have been told we have to be uncomfortable and try new things in order to grow.

  2. Nice post. Good luck with your pitch. So many things to think about but I am sure you will do a great job of it. Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone is good. It challenges us. I agree with what you said about reviews. It makes all the hours and hours of writing and work worthwhile. Nothing better than a new five star review that is well deserved!