3 min read

Writer's Wednesday : Feedback

Taking feedback

You work for years. You send your project to your friends, family and finally shell out for a 'real copy editor' and a 'real content editor.'

Then, if that's the path you choose, you send it to your publisher's editor. This editor slaves away to make your manuscript make sense. The two of you work your butts off to clarify the story, find all the typos, and make sure the grammar is correct. All the while the cover is being created.

Then your 120,000 word document goes through the process. A book block is created. The cover is approved. And a proof arrives.

You go through it another time - just one more look. And you find a typo or 700.

No problem. Easy to fix. Correct the book block and the book wanders off to be printed!

And the book is finally printed!!

You wait. One book sells, then two. When you look again, you've sold 50 copies, then 100. The book is selling! YES! Take that Mr. 'you suck at writing' English Teacher!

Now, you need to prepare yourself. Feedback is on it's way. The Internet gives your readers immediate access to your email, voice mail and website.

Oh, don't worry. People who hate your book won't go out of their way to tell you (at least to your face).  You won't hear specifically how much you suck or your book sucks or what a hack you are. No, only social media forums are the elementary play grounds of adulthood. As long as you avoid asking anyone in a social media forum about your book, you're probably safe.

Most people will tell you how much they like your book.

Then they will tell you about the typos, copy edits, misplaced quotation marks or whatever else their forth grade grammar teacher told them was wrong. It never fails.

It doesn't matter that there are major copy edit errors in every Harry Potter book, that in half of one of Patrick O'Brien's Master and Commander books he calls a character by the wrong name, that any book on the shelf has copy errors or even that British grammar differs from US grammar.  Because Microsoft and Apple have a grammar checker on their word processing program, your copy is supposed to be perfect.

Most people are trying to be helpful. Truly. They just want to help.

And some people are just snipers. My most recent worst case was in a social media forum. (Yes, I should have written this post before I went there.) Someone shot a sniper round in my latest book release with an: "I see major spelling errors...um..."

She didn't say WHAT she saw. She didn't bother to say WHERE she saw it. She just said she saw it. No more follow up. I went into a complete meltdown panic. Finally a couple other friends said, "I see this word..."  (Luckily, one typo was in the bookstore and not on the book. One was a word in a quote .)

Another time, someone IMed me in a panic at 10:45 p.m. over a copy error in a sentence in the middle of the book. This is what I mean. Panic. Mayhem. The world is coming to an end. Your 120,0000 word book has a copy error in it!!! Oh. My. God.

Most people are trying to be helpful. And some people aren't. We could postulate for hours as to why people snipe or say weird things or demoralize. But who cares? Really, why waste your time when other people are willing to help?

What do you focus on? I prefer to focus on the fact that most people are trying to be helpful. When people tell me about copy edits errors or typos or copy errors, I say "Thank you for pointing it out. I appreciate your support."

Why do I say that? Because I truly appreciate people's support. I wouldn't have seen these copy errors if they hadn't point them out. A few people have generously taken their time to help copy edit books for me or share their ideas to better the text. I am grateful. I need this kind of help. Every author needs this kind of help!

Since my books are published using print-on-demand technology (and really shouldn't all books be published print on demand?), I keep a book and flag it with copy edits. Six or nine months after the book comes out, I'll make the corrections and publish a second edition. Easy.

What will you do? What have you done?