Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Your Writing, and Negative Feedback--Tell Me Your Stories

Hello everyone!

Recently I hired an editor to read my manuscript and give me feedback. She'd read one or two chapters, provide comments, then e-mail me.

She just finished my 300 page/13 chapter book, and guess how many positive things she had to say about it? Zero! Zip! Nada! Zilch!

Before you send a lynch mob to this woman's home, keep in mind that someof her comments were accurate, and I will be taking some of her advice. However, I don't believe my book is garbage. I find it unbelievable that in all those pages, there wasn't any good writing, and yet that's what she more or less said.

I want your comments. I want you to tell me if you've had a similar experience, and even better, if your book went on to be published despite the negative feedback you'd received.


  1. I have to ask... Did she give you any positive comments at all? I'm a freelance editor and I always try to find something positive to say. I'm just curious if you feel the negative comments were stronger so you're dismissing anything positive she said or if there really wasn't anything positive mentioned.

    I hope this doesn't discourage you. Listen to whatever feels right and ignore the rest. AND pat yourself on the back for having completed a novel. Not everyone can do that.

    Lynnette Labelle

  2. I got quite negative feedback on my young adult high fantasy. The woman - bless her - kept 'correcting' my Australian spelling (she was American) and was convinced my comma placements were incorrect, and I knew they weren't. She hated my character names and thought the book needed 'a lot of work' (but she didn't say what on). She didn't make it past chapter 4.
    The very same manuscript was handed over to my exact target audience - a teenage feminist - who raved for pages and pages about how absolutely wonderful it all was - except of course, she also made suggestions where I could change things to make it even more awesome, and I'm currently working on her advice.
    Whenever I feel down about my writing, I just read her legendary feedback and BAM! I feel better.
    I'm going to query this book once I'm happy with the revamp and the query letter.

    This is what I mean when I say you need feedback from your exact target audience. You NEED someone to rave about how awesome it is so you'll remember their praise when you're working on making it even better and you're depressed and want to give up.

  3. I'm so sorry you had that experience. Every time I receive critical feedback that I think is unwarranted I try to remind myself that there are all kinds of readers out there and what pleases one will bore or annoy the pants off of another.

  4. Professional people just do not critic like that! If she was at a loss of positive things to say she could have atleast commended you on putting a readable document together in a language she understood!!

    Am sorry she's a bitch babe:( Well, she is! But don't be discouraged by this. One man's meat and all that. People read different stuff all the time. And am sure there's an audience for you out there.Just keep on keeping on:)xxxxx

  5. Criticism is going to be ever present. Yes, there should be some good with the bad but that editor probably had tons of things to read through as quickly as possible. Don't worry about it and go on to the next editor.

  6. Maybe she hasn't had the full grasp of it and commented right away. Criticism must be taken constructively but that doesn't mean there ain't good points about your work, so don't feel down, maybe you should have more people to get reviews from and not just depend on a single opinion..

  7. I agree with Lynnette. There is always some thing(s) positive to remark about (hello, that's why it's called a critique) and you need to give yourself credit for finishing your book. MaryAnn, I've read the portions you've posted. You will be published. It's going to happen when it's supposed to with the right agent and the right publisher. Don't get discouraged!

  8. Sometimes it is hard to move on after hearing so many negatives, but you are your first audience and you have to love your work first, and believe in your novel and it sounds like you are eager to work at it to make it sparkle. You finished a book that is the first major hurdle now comes the next hard work as you said revamping it to make it better. I am a client of Lynnette and she is an amazing editor tough but a sweetheart. Good luck=)

  9. She sounds like a crappy editor to me. I used to work as an editor (children's nonfiction), and I ALWAYS gave positive feedback. It's the editor's job to help the author and get them pumped up for a revision. I enjoyed watching my author's improve. Honestly, this editor sounds very unprofessional to me. A good editor should be able to point out what doesn't work AND also what works.

  10. DON'T GET DISCOURAGED! I think this editor has some issues and you need to find a new one. I think every comment on your article is great advice. Give your work to your target audience. Finding nothing positive about your work sounds suspicious and I don't believe that it's the truth. I am here for you, so keep going and don't give up. There I've said my piece Mary Ann, now go and write girl! :)

  11. Don't let people like her get to you. Some people are professional & others are wannabe's. Obviously, she is not a professional! Just remember, always take it to your TARGET audience. Yes, it does need to be critiqued on grammar/spelling... but if the target audience doesn't like it, they won't buy it. Don't let one stick in the mud get to you. You will be just fine~

  12. Do keep in mind that she, like everyone, is only one person. It's always best to get more than one opinion.

    Sometimes, negative feedback isn't all that negative. For example, some of the rejection letters I got said, "your style is too verbose." This helped me to shorten some scenes that I otherwise would have left as they were. There is something to be learned everywhere :D

    Opinionated comments, however, like "this is terrible," are to be ignored.

    The important thing is: you just keep going. :D