Recently a writer I know got gobsmackingly positive feedback from a published author (via a fee for feedback opportunity) and we’re all stoked to see his wonderful work being praised.
I got feedback via the same process, but my experience was very different.
There was some praise and some constructive criticism of my work, which was all I’d hoped for in paying my fee. Sadly though, there were also comments that were in no way constructive and also one which I can only describe as rude.
The contrast between these two experiences made me think about one of the ironies of the feedback opportunities available to writers being that we mostly seek feedback from other authors. Also, we lend extra importance to that which comes from a published author. Stop and think about it though and it’s a bit strange.
Just because someone’s published doesn’t make them an expert in what sells or even in ‘good writing’. Like all readers they have their preferences and their pet hates. Unlike an agent or editor who reads for a living, they don’t necessarily develop the same eye for what’s saleable.
Really they fill the gap left by the absence of access to agents and editors who are too busy doing it for a day job to want to (or have the time to) run competitions or fee for feedback programs.
And no this isn’t an attack of sour grapes over this experience. What got me thinking about the way we turn to published authors for advice, and the pitfalls therein, was that the feedback I received made it clear the author commenting wouldn’t have ever liked my book, whereas I can see exactly why in contrast they loved my friend’s.
Quite simply, they aren’t my readership.
Which makes their constructive comments even more valuable, as it can be damn hard to give good feedback on writing you don’t enjoy. As for the rude bit… well, I’ll put that down to critiquing fatigue.