Writing Wednesday: Newbie Pitfalls: No Feedback

It doesn’t matter where you are in your writing career, you need feedback on your writing. You need editing and you need beta readers.

I see a lot of people online worrying about having their work stolen. It’s a valid concern, of course. It isn’t half so common as some believe, though. There are sites where works get stolen after being posted to them. I’ve seen a few of those happen to people who were trying to serialize a story and get a following.

I’ve also seen some new authors worry, “What if the editor likes my work and steals it?”

There are two responses to that fear.

First, most of the time an editor is cringing, trying not to pull their hair out, and questioning their life choices when they read something that is from a new author and hasn’t had any editing. They’re not going to steal your work, I promise.

Second, if you don’t trust your editor, why are you working with them? An editor is a part of your team. They work for you, with you, to get your story into the best possible form so you have stronger odds of success with it. If you don’t trust your editor, you have the wrong one.

The same fears apply to beta readers. Again, I’d have to ask, why aren’t you selecting people you trust? This is the team you assemble. You’re in control.

What do we gain when we get feedback?

Well, we find out what readers of the genre think of our story. We find out where we’ve described things clearly enough for ourselves, but not for readers. We find out where we have knowledge beyond what readers may have and when we need to add more information.

We get grammar corrections and ideas to strengthen the plot, character depiction, and so on.

Feedback makes us better authors and makes our story as good as we know it is.

I know one author who refused to have any feedback on their fiction story. No one was to see their story until it published. They labored over it for years, trusting their own editing expertise to make it good enough. They were traditionally published by a small publishing house. The reviews destroyed any chance of finishing the series in the market. It was a bloodbath, and all I could do was watch in horror.

Another author wrote about parenting. The editor of that book advised him to do research on the subject, use proper citations, and remove some of the sexist phrases. He ignored the editor and published anyway. Within a month he was back in the support group for authors wanting to know why his book didn’t sell.

Both of these authors were passionate about their work and believed in it. Each felt their work had value to the readers and would be successful. They skipped getting and using feedback. Please don’t follow in their footsteps. Get the feedback, be open to the information you receive, and make use of it. Give your work a fighting chance.

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