Today we're going to be talking about feedback. And everybody wants feedback on their work in progress. In fact most people if they could get it, would want feedback every single day on every word they've written. But that's not very realistic.
So let's talk about what's actually realistic regarding feedback. Authors love beta readers because they actually tell them the truth about their book. They say whether they like it or whether they hate it- but it's a lot more than just that.
Not All Beta Readers Are Created Equal
It doesn't help much for them to say “I totally hated the whole thing” not only does that hurt your ego but it's not very descriptive it doesn't tell you exactly what they didn’t like. A much more constructive way to give feedback is to be as specific as possible. For example, “I didn't like how the main character reacted to his sister's accusation because it felt like it wasn't genuine. Their dialogue back and forth felt forced and stilted unlike the previous chapter where it had felt so natural and easy.”
But let's be honest, beta readers have their faults too. They carry their own group of prejudices, problems and perceptions about what they think your character should do for their own reasons. So that doesn't necessarily mean that you need to change everything in your manuscript to match what a beta reader says but it does mean but if you have multiple beta readers telling you the same thing, it's going to be worth your time to take a second look.
Responding To Feedback
When looking at feedback, it's important to have a thick skin. If someone tells you that they hate your book or your character or your plot, don't take it personally. I know that sounds totally impossible. You've spent all this time and effort and money into this book and so every negative thing that anyone says cuts you to the quick whether you show it or not.
However, the best way is to always see if there is any truth to what someone says. Here's the funny story of the week. I had an author come to me for help marketing his book. I spent a lot of time with him as we went over marketing plans and once we got to the point where we needed some additional information he sent me over a copy of the book.
It was rough.
In fact it was so rough it almost looked like it had never been proofread.
Unfortunately for this particular author, he'd felt (and don't we all) that his work was amazing, incredible, beyond reproach. And he had paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars to an editor to ensure that his manuscript was perfect. Unfortunately with at least a handful of errors on every page, you're not going to be getting good reviews from critics readers or pretty much anybody else.
The funny part is that he was angry. Not with the editor. With me. For pointing them out.
At the published stage you should try and have as few errors as possible (obviously) and if you can help it NO errors. That's another reason why beta readers are so important. More than a few will point out any serious grammar errors if your manuscript is already pretty clean. That leaves less for your editor to correct.
And let's be honest, no one person, no matter how amazing they are, is typically going to find every single error. That's why multiple rounds of editing by multiple editors is important. And it can be pretty expensive. So a great way to get around that is to use beta readers that can help you get it as perfect as possible to begin with.
So what lesson can we take away from our unnamed author today?
#1 Use beta readers to help you get the most perfect product you can.
#2 Find and use editors and proofreaders.
#3 Always be open to feedback, especially if it's an error of a grammatical nature. The great thing about all ebooks is that you can make a quick change here and there if you need to.
Proofreading Check Challenge
At Entrada Publishing we run a program called The Proofreading Check Challenge. And to be totally honest, not a lot of authors have taken advantage of it, which I think is actually pretty sad.
It's one of the most cost-effective processes for an author to use to find any errors that may have slipped through in their published work.
For example, last night I was reading Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire for the first time (yes I know I’m a bit behind).
As I was reading I noticed a sentence that didn't have closing quotation marks.
I'm pretty sure a New York Times Bestseller and publisher like TOR put their books through all the paces. And yet they still missed something.
You should see if there's something that you've missed in your book.
The program is pretty simple - if we can't find any errors, then you don't pay and if we do find errors, well at least you can fix them for the next printing, which is especially helpful since many are using POD printing via Amazon.
Don't you want the most perfect product possible?
That's it for today. Let me know if you need more help with your book. I'm always happy to help out.
And a final note: as always, don't be discouraged!
You've come this far and every piece of feedback just helps you be even better everyday.
Hear what other authors have said about their beta reading experience!
Thanks for your help with my special circumstances and the timely response from the beta reader. - Karen
Thank you so much! Please extend my thanks to your beta reader. Her insights were excellent, and will help me improve my story. - Z. B.
The feedback is instructive. I am glad we went back to repeat readers as they are confirming there were improvements in the areas I and my editor targeted. - M. T.
Wow! That was fast! ;) Loved the feedback and critiques… I was just picturing some comments in a Word file, so you guys went above and beyond with in-depth reporting! I’ve sung your praises over at Goodreads, so hopefully someone will get the hind and some business will come your way soon. :) Thanks again so much! These stories will be better because of you, and I’ll be sure to contact you again next October when I publish them so you can all get your complimentary eBooks. (The perks of being self-published…) - Jack
I will use all these comments to improve my story. I will definitely use your services again. - Georges E.
What a wonderful and necessary service you provide - this is exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping for. If it is possible, could you please thank the beta readers for me, and especially pass along my thanks to the second reader (EML36) for the thorough comments and insights? Combining the viewpoints and thoughts of the three, I now have some indication of what worked and what will need revision. I hope to make use of your company again sometime soon. All the best. - David A.
Thank you very much for these reports. I like how they're crafted, and they're of big help for me. - Cristelle C.
Thank you so much for this beta reading. It is so helpful and will help me revise the book appropriately to be even stronger. I will recommend your services to anyone who asks. Thank you, thank you, thank you! - Rachel L.
I want to thank you for your great service, they were truly awesome betas! - Tanor C.