Now on to my late post. (Sorry life distracted me a little.) Today I want to cover the importance of feedback and reviews. They kind of go hand in hand, but we're going to separate them. So when I say feedback, what I'm talking about is the beta readers. I love my beta readers, I appreciate every one of them, but you have to remember that you can't make everyone happy. So how do you approach it when they all have different opinions on a certain spot? Well, here's what I do.
|Too cute not to post.|
I keep in mind that they all have different area of expertise or a strong point. I discover this as we go along with editing. I have one beta reader who excels with little details and another who has a better eye for timing. There is one who lives the lifestyle and can tell me where I need to tighten up my accuracy on those details. (Note: Even though I live the lifestyle it is always nice to have extra eyes on that.) I have one who is fantastic at sex and one who is great with grammar. Many of these have multiple skills that over lap which help me out. So with all this feed back, what I do is I go over it all, see if there is common ground on complaints (This scene is too short, this is confusing, it moved to fast) and then I work on fixing those. Once the common ground things are taken care of I look closer at what each beta had to say in different spots. I take the good with the bad. Some of it is just person specific and some of the feedback has valid points. This is where you have to remember, you cannot please everyone.
You are the author, you know your characters best and the storyline. It's great when beta readers catch discrepancies and they are able to help you strength your writing. They help with flow and content and they push you to make it the best you can, but you have to be true to you and the story. If beta reader A wants more sex, but beta reader B thinks there's too much, you have to make that call. If beta reader C and D didn't say anything about it, then again, you have to make the call. Do you leave it be? Do you shorten the sex scenes, take one out? Put one in?
On another project I had beta reader A say, "If it wasn't your writing, I wouldn't be able to get past the first page. The start didn't suck me in." But Beta reader B and C said, "It's fine, there was no problem getting past the start." or when another reader says, "The ending feels rushed." but no one else felt that way. I just had to take a chance and go with my gut feeling. With In Black and White, I've already gotten back conflicting feedback. Some of the calls are tough to make, but feed back is important. especially honest feed back.
So that brings me back to reviews. Reviews kind of drive me nuts, because you have the people who write obviously forced five star reviews, and then you have the drive by one star reviews. It happens to everyone, go read some reviews on goodreads, amazon, shelfari anywhere. You will see the ones that you know are forced (say the same thing over and over again) a lot of time you have friends of the authors that'll just repeat what the last friend said.
Then you have the drive by reviews. The people who leave a low rating without actually leaving a review. Some of them come from accounts that have just recently been activated, and sometimes not. The important thing as an author is not to respond to the negativity of these. Do not try to call the people out, just ignore it. People who read reviews normally take everything with a grain of salt, because they understand that these things happen. Those same people will take five star reviews with a grain of salt as well. (It depends on the review)
Reviews are helpful though, it does let the readers know who enjoyed it, who didn't and the reasons why. Occasionally, you'll get a review that makes you want to bang your head against the desk. I think my favorite review that I saw (when looking at reviews) was, "It was too short, I didn't realize it was a novella when I bought it." The book was marked as a novella, so clearly that wasn't the author's fault. Or, "I didn't like the way the storyline revolved around the romance of the characters. I wanted more focus on the events surrounding them. Too much fleshy action." That was on a romance novella.
My final thoughts on this are: Readers: leave honest reviews, Beta-readers: give the best and most honest feedback you can, and Authors: You are nothing without your readers and the help you get behind the scenes. Remember that. Also remember, you get nothing but drama when you react to negative reviews. Let it roll off your shoulders, laugh about it and then move on.