Friday, February 1, 2013

How to handle different feedbacks?


In the last three days I have received an avalanche of feedback: from editors of publishing houses in India and my crit partner, regarding a manuscript I had practically stopped querying. Each feedback is not just different from the other, it’s also contradictory.

Each editor would like me to make a few changes. I know it’s a good sign and that I should be jumping with joy and not cribbing. And the editors would like me to make those changes and get back to them. I am okay with those changes, but the thought running around my mind is that what one editor likes the other editor has problems with that.

We all know that feedbacks are subjective, but in this case, I am caught in a pool of quicksand of different feedback. I am wondering how other writers who have several crit partners (I have two) and who get feedback and revision notes from many agents handle this.

I know deep down in my heart that I am going to make only those changes that suit my story and match my sensibilities. I am not going to rush the changes as I have not signed any contract yet. So, I have asked both the editors for a few days. The good thing is that they like the story, actually they say its good.

I would like to know how you all handle multiple feedback? Which suggestions do you incorporate in your manuscript and which suggestions for revisions you turn down. What do you all do when you get several different feedbacks? Any advice and suggestions are going to be grabbed by me. So please share your views.

23 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's so awesome, Rachna! I totally agree with you that feedback is subjective and can be completely contradictory. It is very frustrating.

For the publishers you are willing to make different changes to your manuscript, I'd recommend that you do separate revisions for each and if there are other revisions that would fit that were suggested that you agree with, include those as well. Save multiple versions of the manuscript with your main one only including the revisions you really agree with. You're the author so you have to decide which ones you really want in the manuscript you might query to others later.

You might want to give your manuscript a rest for a few days or a week and give yourself some time to think about which ones to use. I've found with some suggestions for major changes that if I let it sit for awhile that I'll find the suggestions are good and discover a way to make the manuscript stronger. Fingers crossed for you.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks Natalie. I like your suggestion that I should do separate revisions for both the editors. I am going to do that. I am also distancing myself from my manuscript for a few days to give myself time to mull over the suggestions. I am not going to rush into the changes.

mooderino said...

I find the feedback that seems like an interesting idea is the one to follow. If nothing really stands out then I look at the area that they say needs change, but not use any of their suggestions. i know it needs work and the rest is up to me.

mood
Moody Writing

Laura Marcella said...

I guess I look at the reasons for the suggested changes. If it's an opinion based on someone's own interests, then I might not make the change. But if it's a constructive suggestion that I can see would make the story better, then I make the change. I hope that makes sense!

Rahul Bhatia said...

Wish you see the printed version soon and best wishes Rachna:)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yeah, with the publishers, make two separate revisions.
With critique partners it's rare I've had contradictory feedback that was major. I did have one scene that one person had no comment, another said it read awkward and I had to change it, and the third said it was one of the best written scenes. I went with my guy instinct and didn't change a thing.

Cherie Reich said...

It can be hard to figure out what's the best to do with conflicting comments from critique partners. If more than two say the same thing, then it's a bit clearer. LOL! I try to step back and see the novel as a reader. If I can see why the comment was made, then I'll change it. If I can't or it goes against how I feel the story should go, then I won't make changes. Of course, it's still hard to do this.

Johanna Garth said...

Sometimes I look at the writing style of the person who's giving the feedback, if it's a crit partner and make my decisions based on that information.

Richard Hughes said...

I've never had that problem. I'd decide which suggestion makes the most sense and would, in my opinion, be the better choice. That's the one I'd make. You certainly can't please everyone, so please yourself based on the valuable feedback.

Naina Gupta said...

I would like to think that those suggestions are just guidelines. You don't have to follow them if you do not feel it would be best for your story and you are struggling to incorporate those changes.

Julia Hones said...

I read that Raymond Carver had different versions of his stories. So you can keep different versions of your stories. I admit that I have considered this and it doesn't bother me. Different versions may still be very similar but they will satisfy different people.

SBJones said...

Unlike Math where there always is a right answer, this is the problem we face as we write. You never will be able to please everyone.

Karen Lange said...

This is always a conundrum, isn't it? But good news too, that so many are interested in your writing! :) When I get conflicting views, I weight them out and go with what my instincts are telling me. Easier said than done, I know. Wishing you the best, and cheering you on in the journey!

Dave King said...

It's the same in all walks of life. As a young teacher we had a general inspection. Just two H.M.I.s (Her Majesty's Inspectors) because a small school. One wrote of me in the report saying how exciting it was to see a young teacher so willing to experiment. The other criticised me for being too experimental. I've never forgotten that.

PaSsu said...

I think you are the best judge of your own creation... No matter how good an Editor may be they will look at your story from the point they want to, and that's how they landed up giving you different feedbacks.

Good Luck!

PaSsu Diary

Medeia Sharif said...

If everyone is saying the same thing, I make a change. If not, I make the changes that are the best fit.

Lydia Kang said...

I agree with Natalie's advice! Still, it's great that you're getting direct editor feedback. That's a wonderful thing.

lbdiamond said...

It's such a challenge when one person's feedback contradicts another.

I like how you plan to go with your gut, so to speak. You know your story and what works.

Best of luck!!!

Mark Noce said...

Uh oh...hope I didn't contribute to this problem:) I'd say, you have to remember who your audience ultimately will be and try to stick to that. When I have contradictory feedback I usually ask my wife for her opinion since she's my target audience and I know if she likes it I will:)

Saumya said...

What a great question and it's so exciting that your story is making wonderful strides! Sometimes taking a day away from any feedback and remembering the themes you want to convey might help. It's easy to lose your voice in the midst of constructive criticism. I have found that often, a skilled reader's opinion has made my work stronger. I know your story will turn out wonderfully!!

michelle said...

Timeous post.
I'm due to send out some stuff to two or three CP's, so I'll know soon enough...

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I like Natalie's idea.

It's hard enough when you get conflicting feedback from critique partners and beta readers. It's another game when it comes from agents and editors. I have one friend who had conflicting feedback from agents. One wanted her to change her book to a thriller. The other wanted her to make it woman's fiction. Talking about a conflict!

In the end, she said screw it, and self published the book as is, and it became a best seller.

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

What a great problem to have, Rachna! I'm really glad for you: Interested editors asking for changes. I don't know how long your book is. But perhaps you could print out a clean copy of it, and then use different colored inks for their suggestions. Then look for consistencies. If more than one editor likes what another wants changed, that tells you something. Likewise, if more editors want to change something that another likes, that tells you something. It would be worth seeing, too, where the colors converge. I do that with comments from my critique group, and it usually yields good changes.