The Importance of Feedback for Authors: What Kind of Feedback You Need and Why.

Our books are our babies, we don’t want to hear the hard things, but what if that feedback helps our book perform better in the marketplace, and actually bring in a profit?

Getting feedback on your manuscript is more than just important, it is crucial. The publishing industry has radically changed over the last decade. This is exciting for authors who would be overlooked by traditional publishers, but this also makes an author’s job harder than ever.

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Today, any author can be published, and I do mean anyone. This means that the marketplace is absolutely saturated with books, potential readers are having to hunt for good reads, and be picky. We have to make sure our book (our product) is the highest quality we can produce. (That being said, you do eventually have to let it go and realize that it probably won’t be perfect…)

There are a few different types of feedback you need to take into consideration and seek out when you’re polishing your manuscript:

Content Editing:

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Have someone (or multiple someones) read your manuscript, NOT looking for grammar and spelling errors, but for:

  • Plot Development
  • Character Development
  • Inconsistencies
  • Plot Holes
  • Weak Writing
  • Tense Changes
  • etc…

This is a critical read through, so make sure you have someone well-read and smart, who isn’t afraid of being brutally honest with you or asking you hard questions. You want someone who will be able to point out the plot holes you will have to cover up, or rethink, and tell you when your characters are flat or shallow.

This is the time to have someone point out the questions readers will have so you can go back and explain more thoroughly or work those answers into future books if it is a series.

This is also the read through for someone to say, “You started out strong in the first couple of chapters, but the writing wasn’t as great in the middle and the end felt rushed.”

These are the things you ignore need to hear. It might suck, but if you can take this feedback and go back to those weak spots and strengthen them, then your book will be able to stand up strong and proud in a crowded marketplace!

 

Line Editing 

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When I self-published my first book I had four or five different people read through my manuscript and “edit” for me. But these people were friends, and many of them told me they got caught up in the story. I appreciate their help, and I’m glad they liked the story, but when the book came out, we were all still finding errors, and it was already printed!

A line editor is someone who can go line by line through the manuscript without getting caught up and distracted by the story. This editor is the one looking for:

  • Spelling Errors
  • Wrong Word Usage
  • Proper Grammar
  • Correct Plurals
  • Tense Consistency
  • Proper use of Italics
  • etc…

All that being said I’ve learned my lesson. I will have select friends and family read for content feedback, but on future projects, I know some pretty harsh grammar nazis that will be editing for grammar and spelling.

Don’t be like me and have a highschooler point out that you’ve got “you’re” instead of “your” on page four of your printed book!

Get a real editor!

Worth Paying For

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There are some things self-publishing authors should outsource. If you’re not a graphic designer, you might pay to have someone else design your cover. But more important than your cover, is your actual manuscript. You’ve spent days, months, or years staring at these words. You’re no longer able to see your own errors! You need fresh eyes! If you know professional, or extremely qualified people who can do this for you for free, great! If not:

Content Editing is important and worth paying for (if you don’t know anyone TRULY QUALIFIED) because this is what people are going to talk about when they discuss your book. If it is read in a book club, or just talked about between friends, you don’t want them focused on the parts that confused them or the plot holes that are so obvious your book is now laughable. You want them talking about how detailed and well thought out it was, or how deep and thought-provoking it was. Word of mouth is the best marketing you can get for a book, your content is what gets people talking about your work. Make it good and that is a lot of marketing you won’t have to pay for!

Line Editing is worth paying for because in today’s market you have a lot of self-published books out there that “you can tell” are self-published. They are rushed and thrown-together looking. The goal is for your book to look as good, if not better than books that are traditionally published. You want readers to be sucked into the story, but when they stumble upon the wrong “there/their” or have to read a sentence three times because the right punctuation wasn’t there and it doesn’t make any sense, that distracts them from being engrossed in the tale!

Don’t waste your hard earned money on putting out a half-hearted manuscript. If you’re going to do it, do it right! In today’s crowded book market, readers can spot a “dime-a-dozen” self-published crap-novel a mile away. Don’t lose readers simply by not making sure your manuscript is ready. Also, don’t miss out on the opportunity to create so much word of mouth advertising, that you create your own fandom!

Honing your craft takes quality feedback.

If you don’t know anyone qualified, that you trust to do a professional job, message me, and I can help you out!

Happy editing, friends!

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