“Constructive Criticism” Can Be Agony

You sweat & cry for hours, weeks… sometimes years, to perfect your beautiful work of art. You share it with great trepidation- only to hear it needs serious work.

Those editors, agents, beta readers, etc aren’t necessarily correct, right? After all, J.K. Rowling was turned down 12 times before being published. So how do you deal with hearing you “failed” as a writer if you know you did your best?

Try adjusting your outlook –

  1. YOU’RE NOT A FAILURE. Do you need some editing tips? Maybe. It’s also possible you haven’t found the right person to appreciate your work. Just keep writing & submitting! Don’t give up.
  2. Accept the fact that you aren’t perfect BEFORE you let others read your writing. Everybody makes mistakes. I recently read an article that said some editors allow up to 5% typos or issues because it’s virtually impossible to catch every single problem.
  3. Ask yourself WHY you trusted those people to review your work in the first place. Are they highly respected in their field? Do you enjoy reading the books they edit? Or the authors they represent?

I agree you should take those comments with a grain of salt, as the old saying goes, but only to a degree. If your feelings are hurt that the reader didn’t fall in love immediately, step back & take a breath. Go do ANYTHING else. When you return, look objectively at your work while honestly considering their suggestions. The people you trusted are being genuine. They want your book to be a best seller, not just acceptable.

I asked someone for an opinion a little while back. One of their comments stated that part of my story could never happen, which made the situation unbelievable. In my opinion, I had 2 choices. I could say, “CAN TOO! It’s happened to me! BTW, transporters aren’t real, but it worked for Star Trek!” *sticks tongue out*

That reaction would show I had little respect for their time & opinion. Instead, I went with my 2nd choice which was, “Hmmm, interesting. I need to rethink this.” Guess what? I HAVE been rethinking that part of the story. If this person doesn’t think it’s possible, will a future editor feel that way? Agent? Or worse- my readers?!? I thought I was touching a real human experience to convey emotion, but maybe I’m wrong.

I haven’t decided which parts, if any, I’ll change in my manuscript. I can only say that I am taking all the constructive criticism under consideration. Sure, the editor I submit it to could fall in lust-at-1st-read & beg for more of my writing. It’s possible. But I accept the fact that I might receive outright rejection. I’m ready to face it courageously! (I bought brownies & wine ;^)

Last thought- If you receive a “Revise & Resubmit” & you start crying… those better be happy tears, Buster! This is the OPPOSITE of a rejection! They’re saying, “Hey I’m intrigued by this story, but you need to tweak ________.” (Fill in the blank with grammar, character development, dialogue choices, etc.) Those pros know their readers & what they want. LISTEN to them!


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