Naturally, when you share your creativity with others, they will have opinions about it. Thankfully beta readers and editors are here to help make sure your manuscript is ready for the world. Good or bad, there are specific ways to handle feedback from a beta reader that can benefit you as a writer.
If you love writing, you want other people to love your work as well. This is why you work hard on it – you take your time to self-edit and then have a few rounds of beta readers to give you feedback. Afterward, you modify your piece to make it read clearer and smoother. If you’re wondering, what’s a beta reader? You can read my article here that explains what a beta reader does.
Here are some steps I suggest you take after you receive feedback from your beta reader or editor.
Let it sit for a while:
Once you receive your feedback, it’s normal to be enthusiastic about what someone else had to say about what you wrote. That’s great. Look over the feedback. Read through them once or twice if you’d like. However, I suggest that you take a few days before you start editing. A reason for this suggestion is once you take time to think about the questions or suggestions that your beta reader or editor raised, you might come up with more creative improvements. Sometimes rushing into editing can cause writers to feel overwhelmed and burn out quickly.
Take your emotions out of it:
Yes, I understand that our writings can be very personal to us, and it is hard to separate your emotions when someone is talking about your “baby.” Some beta readers and editors like to give tough love; they will not sugar coat their feedback on your manuscript to make you feel better. In my opinion, that’s a good thing. As long as the person giving you feedback focuses on helping you make your piece of writing more substantial and enjoyable. Beta readers should never go into personal attacks. For example, telling you, “you’re a bad writer, you should stop writing,” Take the feedback with a grain of salt, and when your story is perfect, you will thank them for their tough love.
Ask for clarifications:
If there is something in your feedback that you don’t understand or raise concerns for you, you should ask your beta reader or editor to explain what they meant. Good communication is one of the most crucial parts of working with a beta reader and editor. So, don’t be afraid to ask them to elaborate on their feedback.
Revise! Revise! Revise!
The next important step is to start editing your work. Editing can be a long process, but in the end, when you have a polished book or story ready for publication, it will be all worth it.
What if you don’t want to use the feedback?
Sometimes, a beta reader or editor will make a suggestion that the writer doesn’t agree with or doesn’t want to change. When that happens, remember that you are the author, and you ultimately have the last call on your writing. So, if you don’t want to change something in your story, you don’t have to. Yes, you can completely ignore parts of the feedback you receive. Especially if you feel that their suggestions make your manuscript worst instead of making it better. It’s rare, but it does happen that feedback can sometimes make a manuscript less palatable than the original. However, it’s a good idea to have multiple beta readers read through your manuscript. Because if you see numerous readers raise the same issues, even on a part you think is perfect and don’t want to modify, you might want to think about making some changes.
Keep a positive mindset:
A writer should keep an open mind when asking for or receiving feedback from beta readers and editors. Constructive criticism help improves your writing. Beta readers and editors are here to judge your content, not you. Remember that criticism is all part of your learning process.
But what if you receive negative feedback?
The following tips can help you stay focused when facing unfavorable feedback on your writing:
Make necessary corrections:
There is no such thing as a perfect writer. We all make mistakes. With that said, if you receive feedback that you don’t like, don’t be too quick to dismiss such feedback. Most beta readers and editors make valid points when they read something and feel a certain way about it. Go back to your piece and try to understand your readers. You’ll be surprised at how much your writing improves when you start listening to the right kind of criticism.
Ignore unhelpful comments:
Not all feedback is helpful. Some people are mean-spirited and will write feedback to hurt you as a writer. For example, if you publish a piece of writing on the internet, you might get trolls who write harsh comments to get attention. Hateful comments can be tough to read at first, but you must learn how to ignore these comments. Don’t take what strangers have to say about you personally, especially if they’re trying to hurt you. The sooner you do it, the sooner you will grow as a writer. Besides, you will most likely get more positive feedback than negative ones. Focus on helpful and positive feedback. Go back and re-read the good comments if you must – write them a thank you note and show them an appreciation for taking the time to help you.
How do you feel about receiving feedback on your writing? Share your thoughts below.
Click here to read more helpful writing tips.