003: How to Deal with Criticism

This episode covers the thorny issue of how we deal with criticism. It might get a little controversial, but I’m hoping most people will find it helpful.

This week, we’ll discuss:

  • Why it’s important not to go back and change things you’ve already published
  • How to use criticism to improve your writing without letting it destroy your self-esteem or your unique creative voice
  • Why critiquer feedback is not the same thing as reader feedback
  • Plus, a shocking, never-before-revealed secret about my novel, The Beast of Talesend!

Below are links to the articles I mention in the podcast. As I said in the show, I’m not insisting that you should agree completely with Dean Wesley Smith’s view of beta-readers and critique workshops as described in these posts, but I think it’s valuable to consider his viewpoint as part of the free market of ideas on indie publishing.

Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing: Beta Readers Help You

Killing Even More Sacred Cows of Publishing: Getting a Critique is a Good Way to Learn

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Comments (2)

Hi, Zoe!!!

I relate to so much of this. When I first published the first edition of Masters and Beginners, my husband was so excited, he immediately took several copies to work and tried to get everybody in his department to buy one. Well, none of his co-workers read fantasy, so of course that didn’t go over too well. He was really disappointed, but I told him that just because someone isn’t of the target audience, that doesn’t mean anything bad about my work.

Also, the minor criticisms I’ve received have generally been from people that either don’t read much fantasy, or don’t really know how to properly unpack literary analysis, and they felt they did. (All of that you addressed, too.)

Beta readers can be tricky. I found myself trying to compile too much of what my beta readers said into the final edits of Volume 2. There were a couple of suggestions that honestly helped me with a part here and there I was having trouble with. But otherwise I was getting sucked into attempting to balance far too many conflicting things. And you’re right, hoping to please everybody most often results in just the opposite.

Thanks! Zoe appreciates your acknowledgment. šŸ˜€

It can be hard to find fantasy readers in one’s circle of non-internet friends, I find. There are a lot of them out there, but I don’t often bump into them in person. Half the time when I’m telling somebody I meet about my books, their eyes glaze over as soon as I start talking about magic stuff. So I don’t usually expect to gain new readers that way, unless I’m in a particular setting where I’m more likely to meet fantasy fans.

I was nervous about criticizing the beta-reading concept, because I know a lot of people think it’s awesome. But in my opinion, it’s only helpful if know how to balance the feedback you get with your own creative vision. I’m not on an anti-beta-reading crusade, but I think too many people are determined to use ALL their beta feedback. You just can’t work that way.

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