Over the last two weeks I’ve posted a few chapters of my book, Salmon Falls on the website Write On by Kindle. It’s free to authors and readers and a an excellent way to connect with people and get feedback on your book. Here is what I’ve experienced.
Readers are eager to get a hold of something new and fresh and they want a compelling story. Those readers are also willing to take time and give feedback on your novel but be prepared. Not everyone is going to like your book and at times it may seem the comments are harsh. Keep in mind; however, that these people are trying to help you succeed and as with anything to do with writing, the tone doesn’t always come across the way it’s intended..
I’ve had comments that I had to read a couple of times or even over a few days because I was taken back by them and was genuinely upset. After all, this is my writing, it’s personal and I’ve put a lot of time and effort into developing the story line and characters so what do I do with that? I stepped back and had to keep telling myself that these people are readers, readers who I want to have continue reading my story in addition to future books I may post. I’ve read many posts in discussion forums regarding how to take feedback and there are some who say to ignore those comments altogether while others say to pick and choose what to take seriously.
My advice is to take all feedback seriously even if you don’t agree at first. Step back and really look at what a comment says and then read your story. Look for what the problem areas are they’ve point out and believe me, your grammar, spelling, punctuation, tenses and every else in between will be scrutinized, and see if there’s room for improvement. Some comments will suggest literally rewriting your entire chapter or moving things around and there are some readers you can tell aren’t familiar with your genre.
For example, my story is a murder/mystery and I found in the beginning, people were asking me all kinds of questions as to the relevancy of bits of information included in the first chapter and thought I was just putting things in there to fill space. Clearly in this type of story, “clues” are left and what is written, no matter how small, is relevant to the story. I had to step back and ask myself how do I make this story more compelling so those bits won’t be questioned without giving the whole story away in the first chapter? How can I be a better writer so that information gets across to my readers without making them stop and wonder what’s going on? If I was a perfect author I would write in a way that would have people reading on to see what happens instead of stopping to write a comment asking me those questions.
With this in mind, no one is perfect and even with published authors, they have editors to help with the making of their books which are not published until it’s perfected. Everyone on Write On is putting their work out there and it’s raw. I hold stock in these comments because these are future readers of my books and I want to give them a good story. They know what they like and chances are they’ve read enough books to know each author has their own style.
Don’t just concentrate on that first sentence to hook the reader. I’ve found most comments are based purely on the first chapter so it had better be one hell of a good read to keep them coming back for more. Take each comment seriously and try your best to use some of them if you agree and always thank them for taking the time to read. People will continue coming back if they feel you’re taking their suggestions and using them and that they’re appreciated.
Lastly, in the end when you’ve done your due diligence to those potential fans and you’ve revised your story, know when to stop. You won’t please everyone but more importantly stay true to your story..