When we’re writing a book or long article solid and quality feedback are critical. After all feedback should be about learning, developing and changing. We should always want to put the best forward and not waste time with a marginal outcome.
Unfortunately feedback is avoided or perceived as difficult. It either gets lost in the shuffle—the busyness of writing and creating—or, we seek it from the wrong people.
Receiving feedback is valuable for many reasons. When we ask for feedback it should help us not only get better as writers, it can redirect our thinking, reinforce strengths and point out more productive or efficient ways of saying something. Plus, it should always be received as a learning experience.
Typically we seek feedback from three kinds of “sources.”
One is our friends, family or colleagues. In my view this is not the best choice. Friends or colleagues find it difficult to give dispassionate advice to writers. They often don’t know enough about the market, the writing process or even the topic itself to give you what is needed to improve your manuscript.
A second group are publishing professionals. Often they have no problem giving dispassionate advice. Most know the market and can give you solid advice, counsel and teaching.
The third group is your potential readers. These are people in your target or core writing audience. They are the people whom you are trying to reach. They are the ones who will buy and recommend your book—if they like it.
This third group is key. They may not be able to help you improve your grammar, but they will tell you if you are meeting needs and communicating well. They will tell you what is missing and they will eventually be customers so seeking their input early and often is a way to build a network of readers who will be very valuable at the launch of your project.
How do you reach them? Most writers have a website and it’s fairly easy to add an option for people to download short PDFs from your site. You can use social media to drive them with a free offer to read the piece and give you feedback. I’d suggest you create a short questionnaire so they know what you want and they can easily respond.
When you do this, you’ll have customers—people who may be willing to spend money to buy the book—reviewing and helping you.
Family and friends can give you nice compliments. Professionals in the publishing industry can help, but nothing is better than receiving feedback from actual readers, future customers and eventually raving fans.