You’ve posted your story on Inkitt and you’re getting reader feedback! This can be exciting and a little confusing. What should you do with constructive reader criticism?
First, any feedback you receive on the Inkitt platform should follow the community guidelines. Check those out here: Inkitt Community Guidelines. If you feel the commentary falls outside these guidelines, please contact us here: [email protected].
An important part of the writing process involves listening to constructive criticism and making edits to improve your manuscript. Beta readers can provide excellent feedback. If you are new to the writing world and some of its unique terminology, beta readers are those folks who you’ve asked for feedback on your story. You can read more about who makes a good beta reader, and how to guide your beta readers here: Get the Most From Beta Readers and Critique Partners.
If your work is posted on the Inkitt platform, and you’ve indicated you’d like reader feedback, you already have a built-in group of beta readers at your disposal! The question remains, what do you do with their commentary, feedback, and constructive criticism? Here are some suggestions to help guide you.
Pay attention to feedback you hear more than once.
A one-off comment could just be a reader’s personal preference, but something you hear more than once, from multiple sources, is worth examining. Perhaps a particular plot point just doesn’t ring true for readers, or a factual error you’ve made is pulling readers out of the story.
Readers are responding to a character in a way you didn’t intend.
Remember, your intention and a reader’s perception may be different. I often tell the story about the male protagonist in my first novel. I loved my hero – he was born straight out of my happy imagination! Who wouldn’t love him? Turns out, about half my early readers. They responded to him in a way I didn’t intend, and I was grateful to receive that information while I still had a chance to fix it.
If it’s bothering you and someone else points it out, fix it!
I knew the first three chapters of my second book didn’t have any punch. My beta readers unanimously confirmed this, so I scrapped the intro, started at a different point in the action, and rewrote the first section of the book.
We think it all makes sense, but…
Suspense is good. Leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for readers to follow and leading them to an a-ha moment is great. Confusion is not. It’s frustrating. We may be too close to our manuscript and understand the intricacies of our world too well to be objective. A reader can and should wonder: How can Harry Potter talk to snakes? Why is Luke Skywalker living with his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, far from all the action? Who is John Galt? These kinds of questions keep readers turning the page, itching to learn more. But, they shouldn’t cause confusion.
Sift through the feedback. Take what resonates. Leave what doesn’t.
This is your story. Good constructive feedback will identify places where something isn’t working and why, but what you choose to fix and how you approach the fix is up to you. In considering readers’ feedback, do you see their point? Will working on that particular scene or character make your story stronger? If the answer is yes, it’s probably worth the effort.
It’s hard to have your work critiqued, whether you’re writing your first novel or your tenth. But by the time we’ve finished drafting our manuscript, we’re too close to see what’s wrong with it. Remember, critiques should identify the rough spots in your work, not tell you how to fix them. That’s for you to decide.
Want to know more about the Inkitt platform? We invite you to ‘ask Inkitt’ via email: [email protected]. We’ll post answers to the most frequently asked questions every Thursday right here on the Inkitt Writer’s Blog.