Someone told me once that feedback was like a gift – you should always accept it, but it was up to you to decide what you were going to do with it.
One of the more nerve-wracking elements of publishing a book is that you will inevitably get feedback that you don’t agree with. It’s a bit of double-edged sword, because whilst reviews are really useful and valuable, it shouldn’t be an open invitation to pan someone’s hard work. I’m really open to thoughtful critics who call out specific areas that they think could have been done better, but I have no time for people who just want to trash the work. That’s really lazy and we can all do a little better. Actually the same is true about positive feedback. Simply saying that it is good, is nice, but not especially useful, either to me or to anyone else reading the review.
I had some feedback on Facebook the other day from someone who had read The Greyfield. Overall they said they had enjoyed the book, but that one thing that could have done without was some of the bad language. I found this really interesting because by the standards of most modern novels there really isn’t that much swearing in the story. There’s probably more swearing in an average 15-rated film than in the book. So I checked with a few other people who all said more or less the same thing. It is not the language itself that is especially noticeable, it’s the character who says it and the context in which it is used. This is a fair point – the scene that they are referring to (and it’s always the same scene) is explicit and was intended to be so. Having reread the passage again this week, I still think that it works in the context of the larger story and the words and actions were chosen intentionally for the purposes of the narrative, no purely just to shock the reader.
Feedback like this is really useful because I can take it into consideration for future projects. So the next time I am writing dialogue for the main antagonist I can make a more informed decision about whether or not they should mind their Ps and Qs. I might still decide to proceed according to my gut instinct, but I might also make a note in the margin to make sure I get a second opinion.
Review Writing 101
I keep asking people to write 5-line reviews of The Greyfield. This initially was a pithy way of saying “a short review” but people started taking it literally so I thought I’d give them a hand
How to write a 5-line review:
- This is a story about….
- I really like…
- The best part is…
- The characters are…
- I would recommend this book…
Obviously, people can write more if they want, but this covers the key points of any review. (And yes, they do assume a positive review, but that is easy enough to change).
So, if you have read The Greyfield please spread the word via social media or by leaving a review on Amazon