Lots of Creative Writers would like to get feedback on their work, and become frustrated when they get no comments at all. This often leads to the writer deciding not to share anymore, which is a great shame since I wanted the group to be a place where writers could help each other develop their craft. So I decided it would be helpful to provide a few tips and tricks to encourage people to share their work again.
One of the biggest hurdles we have is that members post questions that are far easier to reply to. At the time of writing, the top posts with the most comments include two threads asking people to share their Facebook author pages, a post asking “Why do you write what you write?”, and a member expressing frustration over losing some of their work.
Other examples I’ve seen come up include: “What app do you use to write?”, “What music do you listen to while writing?”, “How do I become a writer?”, and writing prompts that ask for a response in 4 words or less. These posts get a lot of responses, and they tend to overwhelm serious requests for beta-reading and literary critique, knocking them off the page.
They get a lot of responses because they’re easy. So tip number one to getting more responses is simple; make it easy for people to do so. Ask a simple question. Tell your audience exactly what you’re looking for. Not just “tell me what you think”, but “do these characters seem realistic?” or “I’m wondering if the setting is clear”, or something like that. If people know what you want from them, they can answer you more easily.
It would also help to make it easy to read. Keep it short. If you would have to scroll down to see it all as a Facebook post, share a link instead. You can host your writing on Wattpad, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, or one of the many other options available. You could even share it via Google Docs or upload it to the groups own file library.
If you don’t want to set up an account at one of those websites, you can just share the paragraph or two you’d like feedback on. You may want to summarise the context in this case so the reader isn’t utterly confused as to what’s going on.
If the reason you don’t want your writing published on a live website is that you’re concerned it would prevent you from getting published, don’t worry, you can always take the story down again before you send out query letters. By then you’ll probably have improved it anyway. If you chose to use an independent publisher (like us) it may not even be a concern. In fact, I’d probably ask you to include a link to the book on your website! 🙂
Enough plugging, let’s get back on topic. When you get feedback, bear in mind that (even if you disagree with it) that it’s well meant. No-one is going to give you feedback again if you complain and respond aggressively to any comments you get. It may well be upsetting to hear that your masterpiece isn’t perfect, but take their advice under advisement anyway.
If they tear it to pieces, don’t despair. Sometimes ideas don’t work the first time out, but with the right feedback from the right person, or the right kind of unrelated inspiration, and you may find yourself with a bestseller. Thank people for their feedback, no matter how much it hurts. Sometimes it may help people to understand what you were going for if you take the time to explain it to them. They might even be able to help you to find a better way to word it.
Remember that the purpose of this group is to help one another improve. The best way to encourage people to leave comments on your work-in-progress, beyond what I’ve already mentioned, is to give them feedback also. Look through the posts from other writers and offer them suggestions. It will dramatically increase the chance they’ll do the same.
To summarise: Keep it short. Make clear what you want. Don’t take the feedback you receive as a personal insult. Be grateful and give back.
Has this article been helpful? Do you have any tips that I missed? What works best for you?