:Writing:: Just how fickle are readers?

On October 18, 2010 by Aimee

Very. πŸ™‚

I could end this post right there, but I have data to back up my claim (as if you didn’t already know that!).

No matter whether you are for or against ‘traditional’ publication … the ultimate answer to the question…

Am I any good as a writer?

… isn’t going to come from your agent, editor or the publisher.

It’s going to come from the ‘Court of Public Opinion.’

There are plenty of good books that didn’t reach their potential and plenty of ‘bad’ books that reached the masses and another set that seems to reach ‘everyone’ in equal measure. The reality is … the books reached the public, and the public spoke … sometimes, in volumes (pun intended).

The key is that everyone has an opinion and the opinions vary from one person to the next. We like what we like. We fall in love with what we fall in love with. We despise what we despise.

We don’t do these things because of the writer … but because of our own preferences. My friend Julie, for example, doesn’t particularly like witches even when written by one of her favorite authors.

Now, let’s twist this to me for a moment (since this is my blog and all). πŸ™‚ I recently submitted the first 5 pages of my manuscript Hide & Seek to a contest. I didn’t win. I didn’t place. I could cry about it, but instead, I looked at the feedback and realized something rather profound.

I did nothing wrong in my story … two of the judges loved it. Two of the judges … did not. I do not appeal to everyone. Neither will you. This is applicable in everything we do … I do … you do. Photographically, if everyone loved my artistic eye, I’d be rolling in money. If everyone loved Starbucks, there would not be Caribou Coffee or any competition.

We are all different and our likes, dislikes, loves and hates comes from our past experiences. Am I angry at those two judges? Not at all. My story simply wasn’t for them … if it really and truly sucked, then I wouldn’t have gotten a perfect score from one judge (and yes, folks, *I* got a perfect score). Me. Little ‘ole me.

Just to prove it …. here are my scores
— 100% (50 out of 50 points): Judge: published fiction novelist
— 98% (49 out of 50 points): Judge: Unpublished Professional in the writing industry (could be an agent, editor, bookseller, who knows)

And the other side….
— 70% (35 out of 50 points): Judge : No idea of their qualifications — there was none mentioned. He/She clearly did not like my writing style based on the comments.
— 54% (27 out of 50 points): Judge: Published in shorts/flash/articles/other — but not novels. This judge said the opening revealed too little information, did not think the dialogue was believable, nor that my writing was evocative or vivid.

It’s just not possible to please everyone. Otherwise, I’d have had four of the same responses. We are a subjective people and that’s totally, absolutely and completely okay! It’s what makes the world go ’round!

Why subject myself to this kind of scrutiny?

Think about when I get my books out there for the general public to read…. if I can’t take the different opinions from four judges, how in the world would I ‘accept’ the ‘reviews’ from readers?

Someone isn’t going to like my story. Someone is going to love my story. How I react to those comments will dictate the success or failure of my writing career.

Share:: How do you respond to positive and negative feedback from your work?