Dealing with Critique

(This post originally appeared on www.yamisfits.com.)

BETWEEN has been through a lot since I started writing it. Three beginning-to-end rewrites. Point of view change. Aged up the main character. Aged down her love interest. Went from past to present tense. Eliminated characters. Created new ones. And each rewrite involved a completely new ending, because I clearly hate myself.

FINALLY, I sent it out to several beta readers in order to make sure it really was ready for querying.

And that’s when things become truly terrifying, right? You’ve worked on it forever. You think it’s ready. You send it out into the world and then you wait and pray that your betas will agree.

photo courtesy of the lovely Jenny Kaczorowski

The super fun part is that you can send send it out to 20 readers and get 18 glowing reviews, but it’s the two negative ones that will keep you up at night. What if they’re right? What if the other 18 readers were just being nice? What if your book SUCKS?

Why do we do that to ourselves? There’s absolutely no reason that the negative feedback should be so much easier to believe, but it is. I hear so many great things from the people who’ve read my book, but one bad review makes me doubt every single one of them.

It all comes down to every writer’s favorite word: SUBJECTIVITY. Some of us loved Edward in Twilight. Some of us thought he was an overbearing, semi-stalker. We all have various tastes, and as critique partners and beta readers, we look for different things when we read. In addition to the subjectivity and individual tastes, I’m constantly reminding myself that writers and readers read books completely differently. There are plenty of books that writers generally hate even though readers are completely obsessed with them (*cough* Fifty Shades of Gray *cough*).

So here’s my personal philosophy on dealing with feedback:

You can’t believe every single bit of critique you get, good or bad. There are going to be some beta readers who will be afraid to be too negative, and there are some who feel like they have to find as many problems as possible. We need all these different types of beta readers–we need to listen to their opinions, study their feedback, and consider their suggestions. Find the ones that line up with your own vision of the story. Get second and third opinions from readers you trust to be completely honest with you. (I know it’s great to have those readers who you know are going to gush over you, but keep in mind when it’s published most readers aren’t going to care how nice/funny/attractive of a person you are…so suck it up and send that book to the harsh beta readers too.)

And then remember: It’s your book, your characters. At the end of the day, you’re going to be the one responsible for what’s within those pages. You need to be proud of it. You need to believe in it.

There will always be someone who doesn’t like your story, whether it’s an agent, an editor, or your reader. The key is for YOU to love what you wrote, because your faith in your story will carry you through the rough patches.

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