My book had a higher rank than Bram Stokers’ Dracula! I just have to shout out with pride before I continue with my post!
As you will know, I was recently told that I needed to re-check my book because of grammar errors! The person whose criticism I took did it in a manner that gave me confidence that the suggestions were needed. I also mentioned in a previous post how my editor was full of criticism, as expected.
Most people don’t know or understand how to give constructive criticism and as such come across as rude, callous or just mean. Since no one likes giving or being given negative news, a lot of people shy away rather than helping that person grow and understand how they can do better. So, as people, we need to know how to give constructive criticism so that it’s the message that’s received, rather than the need to shoot the messenger. The best ways to do this are quite simple, effective but often ignored.
- The Shit sandwich. Something good, the criticism, something good.
- Give specific actionable feedback, e.g. You used suit rather than suite which was the case for Vampire Emily.
- Don’t focus on the person but the situation. ‘The work was subpar’ rather than ‘your work is subpar’. The former encourages positive change.
- Using I instead of You. ‘You’re never on time’ can come across as an attack whilst ‘I want you to be on time’ takes away the negative connotations
- Utilise anecdotes, or the 3F’s (feel, felt, found)
From my “Why is change so hard” post, you’ll recall how easy it is for people to get deflated because our minds want to maintain the status quo. Not only should we be able to give constructive criticism, we as people also need to know how to take it when it’s appropriate.
I for one love it when people take the time out to give me feedback as I see it as a learning opportunity. Accepting it, however, means changing and that’s hard.
I was so grateful that someone who loved my book sent me constructive criticism since it allowed me to make improvements to my book. Without them, I wouldn’t have reached #6 of Bestsellers in horror when I ran a weekend promotion. The promotion that I ran so that those who had bought my book from kindle could replace it free of charge. It was such an unexpected result for me, especially since I only took those steps to rectify mistakes. My book made it ahead of Dracula, one of my favourite books in the world with only three reviews compared to 11k reviews for Bram Stokers’ book.
So change is hard, accepting critique can be hard, but working on it to find solutions will help provide better results!
Yay to being a bestseller, even if it was just for the weekend.