As all authors know, receiving feedback is an important part of the writing process. But what happens when the feedback isn’t helpful or doesn’t align with your gut instincts?
I was scrolling through some Facebook groups for authors this past weekend when I saw an aspiring author post this question to a group:
“I gave my book draft to someone and their feedback was that it should rhyme. Can anyone recommend resources on how to write a rhyming book?”
My immediate thought was, “Wait, you’re changing your entire book because of what one person said?”
And then I realized that I’ve done this too. Not this exactly, but I’ve done some form of this. I think we all have.
Who here has felt a little uncertain when first starting out at a new job, taking on a new opportunity, or writing a new book? (Hands up, people!) During those moments, we often reach out for feedback or advice. And when we receive a particularly “decisive” piece of feedback, it can be tempting to jump in and agree. After all, we sought out this person’s advice because they are an expert or we trust them, right?
Here is some of the feedback I have received in the past year:
- Your character should be a girl instead of a boy.
- You shouldn’t include elephants in your zoo book. It’s too polarizing.
- I prefer Cover Option #1 instead of Cover Option #2.
- Your book needs to feel more fun. You should change the ending.
- The rhyme on page 16 seems to be missing a syllable. It doesn’t flow as easily as the other pages.
Seeking input is an incredibly important part of the writing process. You should never write your book in a vacuum. Good writers enlist professional editors, beta readers, and trusted friends to look over their work. And by doing this, you will receive a lot of feedback. Some of it will be very useful (my editor was right, there was a missing syllable on page 16), and some should be taken with a grain of salt (the elephants remained in the book).
Trusting Your Instincts
Remember that your books should reflect your vision. If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right. If you need to ask for another round of edits on your book cover, invest in the edits. If your book launch team isn’t following the agreed-upon marketing plan, revisit the plan or rework your team.
You know your book better than anyone else, so trust your instincts!
Lauren Ranalli is an award-winning self-published children’s book author, the Director of Marketing and Communications for an international nonprofit, and the mom of two high-spirited children. Visit her on Instagram at @lauren.ranalli_author or at www.laurenranalli.com to receive two FREE resources, Finding Social Media Success, and Daily Marketing Strategies for Authors
Love the Elephant critique! My critique group is great, others can critique other critiques real time for reasonableness.
Lauren: A standing ovation and thunderous cheer for your article!! Your piece competently raises an essential question for every writer: “If I don’t believe in my words, how will my readers?” Overreliance on the opinions of others dilutes our message and impairs our creativity. You’ve truly given us much to think about. Thank you!
Anthony D. Fredericks (columnist [“Write Angles”]) for EasternPennPoints)