Thursday, September 27, 2012

Getting Professional Feedback on Your Writing

I know how important it is for writers to get professional feedback on their work, especially in the early stages.  Good feedback from pros can greatly improve your technique and storytelling style.

I'm often asked by other writers to give such feedback. I really wish I had time to do this, but between writing my own books and promoting them, and occasionally teaching classes, I simply don't have a moment to spare.

Having said that, one of the best ways I know to do this is to post your work on websites that are set up for authors to get feedback from other readers and other authors, such as, Radish, and Amazon's Kindle Vella.  One method I recommend is to only publish part of your "big" story at first, ending it on a cliffhanger, and then seeing if people ask for more.  That is a sure sign that your writing is engaging.  Similarly, if no one asks for more, that's a sure sign that it's not.  In the latter case you have to try to find out why and modify, edit, improve your work until people do ask for more when they're interrupted in the middle. 

Very few writers are "born" cranking out fantastic stories from the start--most of us have to spend quite a long time, usually years, to master the skills to a point where we're good enough to write salable material.  Another way to assess this is to publish a few short, serial books on one more more of the large e-book publishing platforms and make the first book free.  I have done this in the past, learned a lot, and in some cases made significant changes to my story/writing style that greatly improved uptake of a story. A third way to test your written story is to send your first few chapters and a synopsis to literary agents (there are hundreds of good ones) and see what interest/feedback you get from them in its salability to traditional publishers.  IMPORTANT: please only do this with stories that have not been published anywhere else--this is an unwritten rule.

Of course, I'm always happy to answer quick questions on the subject of writing, so please don't be shy about asking.  I have a lot of advice for writers posted on this blog.

One word of caution:  I have found that it's best to try and get feedback from ordinary readers, rather than readers who are also writers.  This is because writers always view the work of others through their own stylistic lens and judge it against what is "good" according to their standards, which is highly subjective.  For more on this topic, see my post called Developing Your Artistic Style.

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