September 2, 2014

How to Get Feedback for Your Writing

There’s nothing quite like positive feedback for your writing efforts. Whether it’s a complimentary letter-to-the-editor published in a magazine that ran your article, a supportive comment from a friend who read something you wrote or a good review of your book, praise is always welcome. Writers and authors thrive on accolades. Second to a desire to write, of course, is the need to be read. A close third is our longing to be understood and validated.

And it doesn’t take much to give us a thrill. Just this week, I received an update from an author who said that one of my books helped her to write a book proposal that sold a publisher on her book idea. A few weeks ago a gentleman contacted me with a question and he said that this same book was incredibly helpful in his journey toward becoming published.

How refreshing it is to know that you are being read. And why should we doubt it? If you have thousands of copies of your books circulating among the public, articles appearing in several magazines and newsletters and your work is posted all over the Internet, why should you doubt that it is being read? Of course, it’s being read. But, hearing directly from someone who tells you how they are using your suggestions or how much they enjoy your story certainly gives an author a glorious boost in confidence and validates his or her intended purpose.

As authors, we also need to know when we are not hitting the mark with our written words. We want constructive criticism along with those treasured accolades. We crave comments both positive and negative from our readers. How else can we make sure we are giving them what they want?

Feedback isn’t always forthcoming and free flowing. In fact, it sometimes takes some clever ploys to generate comments from our readers. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me and some of my colleagues:

  • Build a website related to your writing. Whether you write children’s books, articles for magazines, poetry or you contract out to companies as a freelance writer, a website will attract attention and comments.
  • Start a blog related to your profession or hobby. If you write books for teens, use a blog to promote your book while providing information and perspective for your targeted readership. Maybe you love sailing, establish a blog to share your passion as well as your love of writing.
  • Run a survey or a contest among your readers. Pose a question in your next article or on your website or blog and provide an easy way for readers to respond. Everyone has an opinion and many of us like to share ours. Readers who respond to the survey question or contest may also take this opportunity to comment about your work.
  • Circulate your own newsletter and encourage comments from readers.
  • Periodically contact your clients and ask how their business is going. Ask if there is anything further you can do for them. And, if you are really courageous, poll clients to learn how they would rate you professionally. Once or twice a year I contact customers who have purchased books from me and ask them if the book(s) was helpful. Many of them respond with great testimonials.
  • When you do speaking gigs, provide a sign-up sheet and contact attendees to ask for an evaluation. Or provide evaluation slips at the event.
  • Put yourself out there more. The more you are known through articles, published books, online interviews, speaking engagements and so forth, the more feedback you will generate.
  • Join writers’ groups. There is no better place to receive feedback for your work than from your peers in a supportive environment.
  • Participate in discussion groups.
  • Be generous with your feedback. When you read a good or helpful article or book, when you visit a great Web site, when you enjoy a good presentation, make it a point to issue compliments and to express your gratitude.

Writers and authors work pretty much in solitude. We reach out through the written word. And we appreciate—in fact, need—feedback/validation. Positive comments encourage and drive us. If you feel all alone out there—as if no one is reading what you write, try some of the tips above to solicit feedback. And remember, the more you put yourself out there, the more you will be read and the more response you will receive.

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Patricia Fry

Patricia Fry

Patricia Fry is the author of 37 books, including her latest, “Talk Up Your Book, How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More,” (Allworth Press, November 2012). Order your copy at www.matilijapress.com or at Amazon or most other online and downtown bookstores.

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Comments

  1. Enjoyed your article. I have written two religious fiction books. Do you have any advice on organizations I could contact to offer these books to women in prison envionments? I have spoken to a group of inmates in a women’s prison and was overwhelmed with the response. I would be willing to offer books at my cost if I could find some agency to help. do you have any suggestions?
    I probably should not be asking you this question, but for some reason, I felt that I should.
    I pray you have a blessed day.

  2. I loved you article and I appreciate the suggestions you provided. I, in fact, agreed that authors and anybody else need feedbacks in order for them to become more aware of what they are actually doing, whether they need to be praised for a good work or to point out the areas needed for improvement. Personally, I also want to receive feedbacks from my readers as it would make me feel valued and important, in some way, in their lives.

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