We need to talk about feedback


Or I do, anyway. The three of you who are human and read this site are not necessarily the object of this rant, but I’m sure every writer has run into this at some point.


So, you’ve got this writer friend, someone who has been working on their novel for three-plus years, four-to-eight hours a day on it. They’ve finally reached a readable state with the piece and they’ve asked you if you’d like to read it.


Say no.


Seriously. Say no.


If you don’t have the time, or you think you’ll read it only after the next five books on your kindle, or you’ll get to it in a year, say no.

If you think you’ll just glance at it, say no.

If you think you’ll probably hate it, or you just don’t want to hurt their feelings, say no.

If you don’t feel like writing more than a couple of sentences of feedback, say no.

If you aren’t willing to answer more in-depth questions about your reaction, say no.

Look, a writer isn’t giving you their book for you to tell them how great they are. We’re not looking for a pat on the back and words of encouragement (well, maybe deep down we are, but the ones who are serious aren’t) and to be told we are a precious snowflake. We’re showing you this work because it took us thousands of hours to put together and we’re hoping, just maybe, that someone else whose opinion we respect, will care enough to read it and help us see the flaws we’ve been blind to.

When an author asks you to read their work, they’re taking a huge risk. They know that you may very well hate it. They may be asking you to listen to a long, boring tale that right now, is special only to them. It’s like that guy who wants to tell you about that really weird dream he had, only in this case, that dream took three years to refine.

If you don’t think you’ll have the time, say no. Resist the compliment that they want your input. Say no. You don’t have the time, you wish them luck, you’re flattered, but you just can’t commit to writing more than a few sentences. Your feedback won’t be helpful.

Suppose you said yes.

Here’s a list of ways to break that author’s heart:

1. Say you “liked it” or “It was fine.”

2. Be vague. Toss them a couple of sentences saying what you liked, but don’t go any actual detail. Refuse to answer any further questions.

3. Never get around to reading it. Tell them all the other things you’re doing that aren’t you reading their novel. Talk about other books you are reading. Talk about movies you saw. Talk about all the things you did while they’ve been waiting.

4. Say you didn’t like something, but don’t go into detail.

5. Say “It sucks.” Shrug.

6. Tell them all the ways they aren’t like your current favorite author.

7. Say you haven’t finished, but don’t say why. Talk about the next book you’re reading.

8. Awkwardly avoid them. Avoid all texts and emails. Pretend like you never got the manuscript.

9. Suggest changes that would turn it into a completely different book (by your favorite author).

10. Say “I’m really impressed you put so much time into this.”


Feedback is a discussion, folks. It’s a conversation. If you aren’t ready to talk about the book (no matter how bad it is) please don’t string us along. No book is complete until it’s been read, and unless we know what to improve, we’re dead in the water.






Win a signed copy of BLOOM on Goodreads


So I’m doing a little giveaway over at Goodreads. If you like BLOOM, would like to read BLOOM and have no money, or if you simply like getting free signed books, you can head on over there by following this link and check it out. So far people seem to really be digging it, and this promotion helps distract me from banging my head against the desk as I work on my other books.

Bloom Cover kindle 900 600

Oh, where has the time gone…

I’ve been posting a lot on my Facebook page (you’re welcome to follow me there as well) , probably because the FB page gets more traffic. Still, I thought I’d cross-post my latest progress report:

Bloom: Or, the unwritten memoir of Tennyson Middlebrook, is all but done. it needs a cover and will be getting one shortly. It also needs on last proof for those typos here and there. I’m hoping it will be out before I turn 41

A lot of people asking about the ALD sequel and when it’s coming out. I thought I’d give you some insight into my editing process. I usually write a first draft in about 2-3 months. Following that is a good six months to a year of edits.

I don’t actually print anything out until maybe 8 or 9 drafts in. That’s usually when I pull out my red pen on the train and start marking stuff up. The pages usually end up looking like this.

Sample of redline editing. ALD book 2

Sample of redline editing. ALD book 2

As you can see, it still has a ways to go, but at least it’s made it off the screen and onto paper.