On Feedback

Mariah over at 600 Second Saga recently posted about feedback on writing.

This has been a tricky area for me as I am coming closer to finishing a project and preparing it for publication.

I don’t exactly broadcast that I’m a writer. Only a few members of my family and a couple of friends know. None of my co-workers do. I might be a full on closet writer, and I prefer it that way.

Part of it is I worry my work sucks. Back in my youth, when I did let the world know I wanted to be a writer, a lot of people wanted me to review their work. Almost all of it was terrible. Really, really terrible. I tried at first to give good feedback. When that backfired, I learned a “pretty good!” usually made them happy and let me get back to my work. But then I started to wonder if mine was that bad, too. It probably was.

I even took a Writing for Publishing class, and the only thing I got out of it was meeting my DH. So, really, big win there. Writing wise, even the professor was terrible at giving constructive feedback.

I don’t even know what to ask the handful of people I trust.

I have never signed up for any kind of book swap or reading other people’s work and giving critique in order to receive it. As my only finished piece of work is novel length, I feel like these venues don’t work well other than knowing if the first few pages has a good enough hook.

I am extremely lucky that I have an excellent beta reader that I happen to be related to.

Finally, an area I have been seeing in posts lately is on paying professionals to edit, beta read, whatever. I agree, professionals need to be paid. I get paid to do my day job, and I’d stop going if they stopped paying me.

I have not paid a professional for help with my current manuscript. Not sure I will.

First, it’s hard for me to justify the expense to my family when my writing has never earned a dime. From what I’ve read about author’s advances and royalties, and comparing that to the fees professionals charge, there is the very real possibility you’d end up paying more than you’d ever earn. That’s fine if you can afford it. I can’t afford expensive hobbies right now.

Second, I don’t know how to judge quality. Some of the fees I’ve seen for a professional edit cost more than painting my house. I’ve got a pretty good idea if the painters did a good job painting or not. How do you know if an editor did a good job or not? How do you even find one? I found the painters through word of mouth because lots of people I know need their house painted. They were happy to tell me if someone did a great job or if they sucked. No one I know needs a book edited.

This is definitely a tricky area. On the one hand, you want to be viewed as a professional. Getting professional advice and services can make your work better. On the other hand, if it is a hobby (or still is one), and you aren’t a professional, it’s difficult to afford. And a part of me wonders if it’s worth it. As I have never been able to afford it, I can’t say.

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3 thoughts on “On Feedback

  1. This whole thing is a surprisingly complex thing. I had a while where I was a closeted writer too. And a lot of my friends and family don’t know still. But at some point I have to be ok talking about it and I’m trying to get better. (Last night I hemmed and hawed for 20 minutes trying to talk myself into talking to someone about my stuff, I failed.) Having a blog and shouting at the world is a very good start!

    (That said, I still don’t talk about it at work at all. I know some people do, but I don’t want to get pushed out because I have a hobby. And I’m not sure I want the people I work with reading my stuff. I want them to think of me in my professional hat.)

      1. Yes. But it is also cutting out some of that people you can talk to and interact with about writing. I’m still not sure how to find writing humans.

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