I am all for people joining critique groups or writing groups where others give feedback on your work. I think it’s very important to have people outside your close circle of friends and family read your writing and tell you what they think.
That being said, don’t be surprised by people’s honest feedback.
If you’re just looking for your ego to be stroked, you’re not going to get any real benefit from these kinds of groups. We all love to hear praise and that people enjoy our work, so there’s no shame in that, but if you’re ignoring feedback that isn’t praise you’re doing yourself an injustice. That’s not to say you need to take everyone’s advice for fixes or rewrites, but it should be worth thinking about. As I’ve said before, you’re the artist and you get final say, but you should be going to these groups to improve your writing and hone your craft, so don’t just make excuses about your formatting or wrong choice of words, say thanks and decide what you want to do about it after the fact.
For those providing the feedback, a few words of caution: Honest feedback is important, but there’s no need to crush someone’s spirits. There are ways to give suggestions without being cruel or rude about it. Also, I believe there is always something good to be said about everyone’s writing. Find that thing and be sure to mention amongst your other comments. The point is to help your fellow authors improve, not depress them to the point of quitting.
Everyone’s got a role to play at these groups. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your time spent with them. If you feel you aren’t getting honest feedback, don’t hesitate to find a new group. Sometimes it’s just not a good fit and another group may better understand what you’re trying to accomplish or be more willing to give the kind of feedback you’re looking for.
Do you give honest feedback, or are you too worried how people will react?
I’m always curious on what prompts a reader to pick up a certain book. My own process is typically a combination of things ranging from recommendations, blurbs and reviews to startling covers and general curiosity.
These days, I’d have to say reviews are what prompts me the most on whether or not to pick up a book, but it wasn’t always that way. Before the birth of digital books, I would spend hours in the library or the bookstore skimming the stacks, looking for the cover, jacket or title that would catch my eye and have me plucking the book off the shelf to read the back cover blurb. While I love being able to carry 300+ books in my purse and not throw my back out, I do have to admit that I miss those days. I still buy the occasional book in print and I love, love, love to get the books my author friends write in print. I have them all gathered together on my bookshelf so I can tell people, Hey! I know those authors!
Browsing the digital way is not as easy. I do enjoy Amazon’s feature that shows what customers who bought this book also bought. That often leads me to finding similar stories to read, but if I’m looking for something completely different, it’s much harder to browse unless I am looking for a specific author.
The lack of browsing definitely hurts the indie/small press author as well because it makes it all that much more difficult for readers to find your book. That’s why reviews, whether it’s from people you friend on Goodreads or from book bloggers you follow, is my current go-to process for finding new books to read.
How do you find something new to read? Are you old school, hitting up the library and few remaining bookstores? Do you search for new books by authors you already know? Or are you scouring the web for reviews and recommendations?
I’m excited to announce that my new and improved cover for Tears of a Clown, created by the fabulous Mallory Rock, won a Gold Star award this month from the Book Designer.
The judge commented on it as well: JF: Love the playfulness and clear communication of this ebook cover, and the many little touches that make it work. ★
Mallory deserves an award just for putting up with my constant changes! Haha but she did a great job and I’m very happy with the result. Glad to see her getting recognition for her hard work.
As last stated, life has gotten very crazy lately: a move, family issues, being sick, etc. The writing has come to a complete standstill. I haven’t attended my writing group in the past couple of weeks for several reasons, not all of them good. Sales have slowed a little and all these things together were starting to weigh me down.
I had to take a step back and look at all that’s been going on. It really has been a lot and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not worth it to beat myself up over it. I may have consciously chosen to not write at times, but unpacking boxes or unwinding with the boy and watching TV has its place too, to keep me sane and get me to a healthier place.
Just because you take a break doesn’t mean you’re never going to get back to it. Because writing isn’t what pays my bills, I don’t have to feel guilty about not putting more time into it at the moment. I’ve got tons of stories to finish and more ideas brewing, so it’s not like I’m going to abandon writing, but I’ve sternly told myself that a break is okay and there’s no need to compare myself to others who are churning out several books a year and constantly writing, writing, writing. I am myself and no one else. I have other needs that have to be taken care of in order to be able to focus on writing again.
Don’t feel like taking a break is giving up. It’s just recharging your batteries and clearing your mind. It’s letting the ideas churn and grow before those voices in your head are so loud you have no choice but to get back to it. It’s taking care of yourself. It’s not a bad thing and it’s not failure.
As some of you may have noticed, blog posts have not been as consistent as they should be lately. I apologize for that and will work on getting back to normal, but life has been and is going to continue to be crazy and stressful and emotional for the next couple of months. I’d rather not go into detail at this time about all that’s going on, but I hope you guys can stick with me through it until things settle down and I can get back to more regular posting.
I appreciate your patience and feel free to use the blog or other social media means to contact me. It might take me a little longer to respond but I will get back to you!