Friday, September 23, 2011

No Sycophants Allowed!

When I began the process of finding an agent I purchased a book called Putting Your Passion into Print, by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to be published. It is as entertaining as it is educational.

One of my favorite entries in the book is about getting feedback on your manuscript. Should you let other people read it? Who should you let read it? What do you expect from them? They sum it up by saying, “stay away from obsequious sycophants! The last thing you want is people telling you your proposal/manuscript is good when it’s not. Be sure to let people know you want the you’ve-got-a-wart truth.”

I was reminded of the American Idol hopefuls who faithfully line up for hours each year only to be turned down. I always wonder why their support system failed them? Where were the friends and family to say, “we love you, but maybe this isn't your thing. Let's find what you are amazing at. Or, let's get you some lessons.” If any of my brother’s ever set their sights on going on national TV and singing, I would have to dash their dreams firmly. Musical talent is a gene that was left out of my family’s make-up, sadly. However, that doesn’t stop us from singing! We just restrict it to the shower, car, or one drink too many karaoke night.

With this in mind, I have only let three people read my entire manuscript. I was careful to choose people I felt would be honest, even if it hurt. Because, this is my dream, and I’d never want to put my name on tone deaf writing. While I would always recommend listening with an open mind to anyone’s suggestions or concerns about your writing, it’s also important not to lose your voice trying to follow everyone’s advice. Take the critiques, learn from them, use them, but stay true to yourself at the same time. At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.

So, who do you get feeback from?

1 comment:

  1. You are SO RIGHT!! I don't know if people are truly being honest, don't know any better or don't want to hurt my feelings when all they say is nice, sweet stuff regarding my writing. I'm not going to improve if you don't tell me I have a major problem with my plot or my character lacks proper motivation or the manuscript just loses steam halfway through!

    Here's my take on the subject:

    Thanks for a great post. I look forward to reading more!