I recently am trying out an idea where I get as much feedback as possible as quick as possible. The idea is to test my novel ideas before I get too far into the weeds (technical details or in this case, too many chapters in). The hope is to build a book that is not only interesting, but works for the most people possible. However, I’ve recently discovered that more feedback is not always better. Here are a few reasons why:
Reason #1: Feedback comes in so many flavors
Taking a step back from the purely subjective nature of feedback, there are many types of feedback. The truth is that there are multiple types of edits that can occur. Developmental feedback can help with big picture feedback. That’s really what I was hoping for in this early stage of writing. I would even enjoy structural feedback, which tells me how to take the picture I have and make it clearer. That being said, part of the feedback I got was spelling, grammar, and word usage. That’s not very helpful and actually does the opposite of what I want.
Reason #2: Feedback can destroy your passion
If the person doesn’t know the genre or desire of the writing, they might focus on the other stuff. That can include spelling, grammar, and word usage. When you hear that you aren’t doing a good job on the basics, you feel horrible about your writing. It makes you want to quit, though you are just starting out on the story. That’s the opposite of what you want. You need encouragement and direction, not nit picky details that are easy to change.
Reason #3: Direction can stop in the middle of the street
If you find some feedback that sound true, and you begin to follow it, you want to get more feedback on the rest. However, sometimes you have people flake out and stop giving feedback. In addition, they might not have consistent advice. Having someone give consistent good advice can be really tricky. You don’t want one good piece and then it’s done.
My concluding thoughts: Find several people who will work with you through the process. I am actually a bit partial to having to pay someone to do the feedback. I think that’s because I like the idea of incentive to work together. Ultimately, you have the most incentive to develop your own story. Others only have the incentive if your story is interesting. Beyond that, they don’t really have to care very much. However, if you pay them or do a 1 for 1 exchange, there is that relationship in place. You both know what’s expected and your desires are aligned. You both want to have workable feedback because that will either result in more gigs or in more feedback for their own story. I think that’s important. Ultimately, I think that’s the main strategy I need to continue to work on: being an author is about developing relationships. I know that sounds odd, because who wants to have some kind of relationship with a random author? However, when I say relationship, I mean any kind of interaction. Getting a free book, getting reviews done, getting book covers created, getting the audio books recorded, and many other things require some kind of regular interaction. I think developing those interactions and finding your development “crew” is important.