Feedback Superstar shines a light on readers who go above and beyond in their giving of feedback.
Cliff Hall is an eagle-eyed reader who catches errors from grammatical to logical, and is happy to offer his insight to help fellow writers improve.
Check out his comments on stories such as Uncontrollable and DarkWeb. One particular comment on “DarkWeb” stood out to us: Cliff pointed out that a character described as running his fingers through his hair would have had a tough time doing so. Why? Well, earlier in the chapter, the character picked up a bowl of hot soup in one hand and a spoon in the other and had not let go by the time he touched his hair, pages later. Now that's reading with specificity.
Write On by Kindle: Why do you believe that giving feedback is important?
Cliff Hall: Because the writers on Write On are authors seeking to improve their work at a time when many simply hit the "publish" button, polluting the self-publishing landscape and giving it a bad rep. Even if you don't like what they wrote, they deserve to know why.
Write On: Could you elaborate on what you mean by that?
Cliff Hall: Outside of this community, the word “deserves” would be ludicrous. Readers have more options competing for their attention than ever. If someone reads a sample of your work and doesn't like it, they move on; they owe you nothing. But readers on Write On may also be authors, so giving feedback can fall into the "do unto others" category of activities.
If you don’t buy into the "karma" reasoning for giving feedback, think of it this way: It is an opportunity not only to make our own work better but to help raise the bar for self-published work in general. It’s as easy to publish a book as it is to make a blog post these days. That’s fantastic, because the tyrannical rule of publishing houses is coming to an end. But with them goes the writer’s safety net: editors. Many self-publishers are skipping that step. Maybe they feel their own critical eye is good enough. Maybe they don’t have the money to pay a professional editor. Maybe their friends all just say “loved it” because they aren't editors either.
"If someone decides to put their work on Write On (before publishing) and it catches my eye, I feel I owe it to them, to readers at large, and to myself, to tell them what I think could make it better ..."
The result is that self-publishing is getting a bad name because of the high volume of poorly edited material clogging the Internet’s virtual bookshelves. We can help stem that tide. If someone decides to put their work on Write On first and it catches my eye, I feel I owe it to them, to readers at large, and to myself, to tell them what I think could make it better, or at least what put me off about it. In that way, the self-publishing bar can be raised.
Of course, the next challenge is for us to all learn to take constructive criticism and fold it into our work, but that’s a whole other story.
Write On: What do you look for when deciding what to read?
Cliff: Like a bookstore, titles and covers are all we get when browsing, so it starts there. Then comes the blurb. You only get 500 words. If you make them count, I might read on.
Write On: After reading a story, what persuades you to comment?
Cliff: Even if I only read three paragraphs, I comment because writers deserve it. See answer #1.
Write On: On average, how much time do you spend crafting a feedback comment?
Cliff: It happens as I go, in the feedback box. That way it can be very specific. Nebulous reflections aren't as actionable as "Chapter, paragraph, sentence, problem."
"Nebulous reflections aren't as actionable as 'Chapter, paragraph, sentence, problem.'"
Write On: What are some tips you can share on how to leave great feedback?
Cliff: Notes of encouragement aren't as useful as specific problem reports, so I use the like buttons for expressing my enthusiasm and save the feedback box for editorial exchanges. That said, be nice, and if there are a lot of problems, take care that your phrasing doesn't sound unduly harsh. End on an upbeat note.
Want to nominate a reader for this feature? Email email@example.com and let us know who you think gives excellent feedback!
My first time on WriteOn. The interview questions were great, and I appreciate the quality/courtesy of Cliff's thought process. Writers are lucky for his feedback! Thanks, Amazon, for this opportunity.
This is the first post I've read on writeon. I like Cliff's advice! Now if I may give Amazon a bit of advice. Watch where you place those bolded quotations. Yes, I know they are in bold, but being new here I did not know they would be so out of context. I was reading along and because Amazon had split Cliff's paragraph about editors in half, it appeared that the result of skipping the editing step was Cliff's fault. I did figure it out, obviously, but I shouldn't have had to!
I am sorry I sounded too abrupt in my comment above! I was actually smiling about the placement of the highlighted text when I wrote it, but when I reread it today, that didn't come across at all. Perhaps I shouldn't be volunteering to proof anything when I have to correct my own comment....
Getting anyone to read your stuff is difficult even when you emphasize that I appreciate honesty and want to hear both the good and the bad. How can you improve you work if they just say, "It's nice" and offer not critique. So I would be very interested in a critique of the story, style and technique, especially format.
How does one submit their work for review?
Author: On Destiny's Doorstep/The Innkeepers Nephew
Just posted on Kindle
Hi, Bill. You don't really submit work for review. What you need to do is become a part of the community. The first month I was here, I didn't get involved, and very few people read my story. Then I started chatting in forums and critiquing others stories, and BAM! So that's the key: get to know your fellow members. Help them out and they will help you in return. That's really all there is to it. Make friends, have fun, and it will happen. Who knew it could be so easy? You could also look in 'Making Stories' for the various feedback groups that exist and join them. But if you're just waiting for people to start reading your stuff left and right and leave detailed critiques out of thin air, it probably won't happen. So go get 'em, tiger!