Being a writer – part 5 – editor feedback and dealing with criticism

Hi Everyone,
One of the greatest tools in your self-publishing armory is your editor..

I had a few conversations with my editor this week. My usual genre is young adult contemporary fiction and I decided to write a non-fiction book based on my work life and a business experience I had. A month had passed and I had received no feedback, so I gave her a call.

And feedback I got. She didn’t like it and a long conversation followed.
Which leads me to today’s topic, dealing with criticism.

As an author, unfortunately criticism is something we have to deal with on a regular basis. It’s hard to put your best work on a page, especially after spending weeks, months or even years working on a project, only to have someone say they don’t like it – or worse.

Now I’m aware of it, I realise that I also do it to others. And as I get older I find I’ve become less patient. A movie that fails to grab me within ten minutes is now switched off, where as a few years ago I would have persevered. The same with books, music and TV series. That’s the circle of life – I judge and therefor I am judged.

The thing to remember is that when you’ve finished draft 1 of your book, you’re only about half way to completion. Your editor’s purpose is to make sure you write the best book you can possibly write. Good criticism should be objective, specific and consistent.

1. Objective
It’s well documented that opinions are like a certain piece of the anatomy. We all have one. When it comes to editing though, personal opinions are subjective.
“I don’t like chapter 3.”
“The main character is a fool.”
A second person may read the book and disagree. These vague opinions are unhelpful.
Better feedback would be objective, for example:
“Chapter 3 contradicts what happened in chapter 1.”
“The main character’s behaviour is inconsistent.”

2. Specific
There’s nothing worse than writing a 300-page book and someone tells you that the main character is inconsistent without telling you where and what. You could spend hours going back through your text looking for the inconsistencies. The result is frustrating and a waste of time. Better feedback would be:
“On page 167, the main character did X, on page 24, in a similar situation, they did Y.”

3. Consistency
Corrections your editor makes on page 1 – be it grammar, spelling, continuity – should be the same as they make on page 300. Consistency will hold your book together.

Accepting the criticism and recognising it comes from a place of help is key to writing a book, providing it’s constructive. I don’t like bad feedback, but I recognise that it’s there to make my book better.

At Beyond the Vale publishing, we work with a variety of editors to help your self-published book be the best it can possibly be. Contact us today and see how we can help you.

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