Friday, May 2, 2014

An Open Letter To All Authors

Is she enjoying the feedback?

Dear Author –

Thank you so much for asking me for feedback on your work.  You asked me, and I take the role very seriously.  There is a sacred bond between writer and reviewer, and I will not break your trust.  I’m going to be honest with you.

Of course, the other side of that bond is you, the writer.  You want me to be honest about how this piece functioned to convey character, setting, and emotion.  You didn’t ask me for feedback so you could be told how awesome you are.

We both already know you’re the bees knees!  You’re the cats pajamas!

You want to know what things you did well and can continue doing, and what areas need improvement and change.  No author writes in a vacuum.  Open the cover of any modern published book, and you’re likely to see an author’s acknowledgements.  These are the people who helped the author do exactly what you and I are doing now.

But I have one rule, and you must follow it.  I’m not mad or angry or upset or even mildly perturbed as I tell you my one rule.  I’m smiling, because I know you’ll be able to follow it.  My one rule is this:
I won’t argue with you.

That’s it.  That’s all there is.  See how simple that is?

You’re the author.  You are god.  If you decide that my feedback is wrong, then it’s wrong.  There is absolutely, positively, very much, all no reason whatsoever ever ever always never to tell me I’m wrong.  Why would you?  It would be disrespectful of my opinion and my time.  You’re the god.  You do whatever you want.  There’s no point in telling me that you aren’t going to make any of the changes I suggested.  That’s an invitation to argument, and I won’t accept it. 

Arguing is for your editor.  Arguing is for your publisher.

I’m open to questions and clarifications about the opinions I gave.  You’re more than welcome to ask me to clarify anything.  I’m not the author you are, and I didn’t slave over my feedback the way you did on your manuscript.  There might be typos, a lost word, an awkward or confusing line.  I might have been too technical or not technical enough.  Ask me.  I’m glad you asked me in the first place, and I don’t mind at all discussing what I said to help you out.

So thank you again for asking me for my feedback.  I’m looking forward to reading your work.  You can further honor me with a “thank you” when you’re done.  I may not have slaved over my responses like you did your writing, but I took the time to read your work, to think about it, and to try to help you.  It would be the courteous thing to do.

Oh, and please respect my one rule.

RobRoy McCandless