Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: feedback

WordPress Can’t Re-Blog & Amazon Has A Soul?


I recently reset my blogging schedule to more neatly accommodate the rest of my writing-life… 

I research and write an original blog post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—the other days of the week I re-blog

Well, it’s Thursday and, for no known reason, I can’t find the re-blog buttons

[ Edit after publication: WordPress changed the location of the buttons and, for no known reason, I didn’t see an “alert” about the change…]

So, to bow to my responsibility to my readers, I’m pausing my other writing tasks to manually say:

Check out Jo Robinson’s post, Amazon—she’s trying her hand at Flash Fiction and would appreciate some feedback
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Author Platforms & Email Lists…


As I went through the process of writing the book I recently published ( use the link in the left side-bar to buy it or get a free copy :-), I began sending out various incarnations of the book: first clean draft, second clean draft, ready for the editor draft, after the editor draft, after the Review Office draft, “final” draft, “Final” draft, and, finally, the Real Final Manuscript.

I sent them out freely and got some feedback (there seems to be never enough of that) but, most importantly, I saved everyone’s email address.

There are very few of the now over 140 folks who’ve received some form of the book whom I know. I have little information on who’s actually read it or what they think of it.

Still

I have a list of people who were curious enough about my book to let me send them a free copy with no strings attached.

Some “experts” of book promotion and building author platforms will tell you what I’ve done is insane. Some will wonder what good it could do. Some will see that I’ve built a powerful tool to stay in touch with folks who have already shown some interest in my work.

When I feel it’s the right time, I will communicate with my list of somewhat interested people, ask them what they thought, let them know what I’m up to, give the folks who only got a first draft a free copy of the final manuscript, encourage those who’ve read it to bring their ideas to the forum I’ve created, and encourage those who haven’t yet read it to do so…

So

I’ve been doing something that many folks with more experience than me have said is important–building an email list.

The fact that I’ve done it differently than many of them might have counseled me is something that time will have to test for its worthiness…

Have you built an email list?

Have you thought about building one?

Do you know of other ways to create an author platform?

I hope you’ll share your thoughts and feelings in the comments…
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How A Story’s Integrity Can Save It From Certain Criticisms


Haley Whitehall, in a twitter conversation, suggested the topic of this post :-)

Writers receive, if they let themselves, many kinds of criticism; during the writing, if they’re brave, and, almost always, during the final revision process.

Let me give you the etymologies of the two key words of this post:

criticism Look up criticism at Dictionary.com
c.1600, “action of criticizing,” from critic + -ism. Meaning “art of estimating literary worth” is from 1670s.
integrity Look up integrity at Dictionary.com
mid-15c., “wholeness, perfect condition,” from O.Fr. integrité, from L. integritatem (nom. integritas) “soundness, wholeness,” from integer “whole” (see integer). Sense of “uncorrupted virtue” is from 1540s.

So, I’m proposing that, somehow, the “wholeness” and “virtue” of a story can save it from certain negative “estimations” of its “literary worth”.

As always, I’m not writing this post as an “expert” on the topic. I’m a writer and a published author but I make no claim to being a literary expert.

What I can do, though, is to ask questions and share my own experience.

What is the “wholeness” of a story (insert the word “book” if it makes more sense for you…)?

What is its “virtue”?

Did you notice that the etymology of “criticism” said, “art of estimating literary worth”?

It appears that valid criticism involves artists evaluating other artists.

Any two artists will have two unique sets of values when they approach the art of criticizing another artist’s work.

Is the artistic critic evaluating the Whole of the work? Are they sensing the Virtue of the work?

My book was getting criticism well before I began writing it–its theme was shared with many people and their opinions were sought…

As I wrote it, I received feedback from authors and interested readers.

My editor went beyond mere technical appraisal and shared her artistic views of the book.

A special office of review gave me highly-qualified and specific advice.

At each stage of this process I was of two minds: the merely human writer seeking perspective and the Artist, bearing the Book and feeling its Life and Truth…

Sure there were dumb mistakes that the merely human side of me made and they were gratefully attended to.

But my Artist-Self was the Mother of the Book and She, thankfully, was strong enough and clear enough about what the Book needed and deserved.

Does your story or book Speak to you?

Can you hear its demands in spite of well-intentioned criticism from others?

Does your “human”-self interfere with your “artist”-self?
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Mind/Reality & Writers


Yesterday I posed a number of questions about mind and reality and got some fascinating comments from a group of writers.

I promised a follow-up post and feel very good that I didn’t have to weave it out of thin air :-)

The thin air my mind is in now is a rarified state of reality I like to call metaphysical funk.

The comments from yesterday began to fill that mental reality with urges and pokes that are helping me turn the funk into a faith that I can make the walking woundedness of pervasive grief over the death of a friend an experience rich with fertile futurity.

If that last sentence made some sense to you, we could probably enjoy a chat in some groovy coffee house :-)

I decided the best I could do, right now, to indicate how helpful all the comments were is to put the urges and pokes here, hoping they prod my readers to check back with yesterday’s post and read all the comments

Shalon said:

“My take on this, Alexander, is that we can’t know what’s real or what’s not real, and that the blind commitment to one form of reality is a type of zombie-hood that sucks your brain out of your mind and eats it….

“I also feel that since reality is unknowable, the smartest thing to do is give it the benefit of the doubt….

“…I’m not saying that there isn’t a real ‘reality’ out there, but that despite the possibility of a ‘true’ and ‘real’ reality, there still exists a choice. I believe that this requirement to choose one reality over another means, to me, that reality is unknowable.”

Karla said:

“The brain is an elegant and amazing organ, constantly gathering input from our environment and processing it according to ever evolving life lessons. I don’t see why we feel the need to attribute reality to anything more than that.”

Simone said:

“Well, a couple of children’s stories come to mind. One is The Emperor’s New Clothes. The other is about the blind men and the elephant.”

John said:

“The questions on the floor, of course, are so elephantine (speaking of “the blind men and the elephant”) that I doubt I could make much more than a stab in the direction of actually unraveling the questions of “mind” and “reality” enough to even approach an answer or two concerning either….

“Personally, reality appears to be what it is to me; the minute I must related this reality to someone else, voilà! There are difficulties which simply do not exist in the singular; when it comes to the plural of humanity, then, of course, we run into a problem of justice and equity, which is an entirely different kettle of fish, and whole new elephant to examine.”

Cassy said:

“There is an inseparable symbiotic relationship between our senses and the reality that is created within our mind….

“Metacognition helps us to evaluate our minds reality as shaped by our sensual experiences….

“So, in short, I would say that the weave of reality and mind is so tight, it would be difficult to identify which is the chicken and which is the egg (though I am writing this before 8am and have only had one cup of coffee – no telling what my reality will be an hour from now :)”

Your Thoughts/Feelings??
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What Kind of Feedback Do Writers Need? What Helps Them Most?


Our last post had me offering to put your name and Bio and web link in a Special Listing in my forthcoming book.

All it takes is getting the free copy of Notes from An Alien and giving some feedback.

I need to quote part of C. M. Marcum’s comment on that post:

“But we’re such good friends now. Why spoil it?

“No, seriously, I have run the gauntlet of writing sites and I have found the relationships to be dreadfully one-sided.”

I think part of that one-sidedness is folks not knowing what writers really need when it comes to feedback. Though, I think C. M. knows exactly what kind of feedback to give, even if it’s not appreciated :-)

People who give feedback on a WIP [work-in-progress] are sometimes called “beta readers”.

I’ve even known writers who only let beta readers have their WIP if they follow a prepared outline of what questions to answer about the piece.

Personally, the very worst form of feedback is, “Great job!”, and its many variants.

If they meant those words, fine, but what was “great” about it? And, if they didn’t mean it and were thinking they “protected” my feelings, the faux-comment is actually an attack against honesty and fairness. “This sucks!”, is much more welcome…

There’s an interesting discussion about what writers want and need in feedback at the Absolute Write Water Cooler.

One of the most interesting comments was: “Beta readers should be used to critique story effectiveness.”

Exactly! What effect does the writing have on you? What did it make you think? What did it make you feel? What was your response to various characters? Was the storyline understandable? Where did the piece disappoint you? Why did it disappoint you?

Another person in that forum thread said: “…’train’ your beta readers to read with a pencil in hand. Have them mark any section, phrase or word that pops them out of the story, even if they have no idea why it did. Sometimes that’s all you need to see a problem.”

Now that is some excellent advice :-)

I’ll end this post with some quotes about feedback and critiquing:

“A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year.”
~ Polish proverb

“Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.”
~ Christopher Hampton

“Constant, indiscriminate approval devalues because it is so predictable.”
~ Kit Reed

“Don’t judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins.”
~ American Indian saying

“It is easy – terribly easy – to shake a man’s faith in himself. To take advantage of that, to break a man’s spirit is devil’s work.”
~ George Bernard Shaw

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

“When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.”
~ Oscar Wilde

“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee; rebuke a wise man and he will love thee.”
~ The Bible

“To escape criticism – do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”
~ Elbert Hubbard

Please, leave your feedback and criticism in the comments :-)
[ The Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-]
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