Readers have millions of choices when it comes to choosing a book to read. Without getting feedback, it’s extremely hard to see if your book is as interesting and smooth to read as the rest of the work that other writers are putting into the marketplace.
What are the best ways to give writing feedback on Book Country?
While we have offered you “Dos and Don’ts” for giving feedback on Book Country, we believe that there really is no wrong way to give writing feedback (as long as your feedback stays within the bounds of the Community Guidelines, of course!). However, if you’re unsure about how to craft a review that will really help other community members make their books better, try one of these three ways to give great writing feedback on Book Country:
Be specific, and don’t be afraid to have opinions.
Tori Schindler Brooks is a great example. Here’s an excerpt from one of her Book Country reviews:
Internal dialogue shouldn’t be in double quotes, it’s too easy to be mistaken for actual spoken words, except in the (hopefully) rare occasions the characters are genuinely talking out loud to themselves. Usually you use italics or single quotes, or just state ‘they thought’ for internal dialogue.
Along those same lines, when the book is in third person POV, “I” is going to be inside quotes almost always or it’s awkward. It feels like you, the writer, lost track of your POV when we’re reading it.
The dialogue was good but occasionally difficult to follow. Not all dialogue had clear tags or point of origin.
Tori’s review above is much different than, for example, this response about the dialogue in a book:
The dialogue was very good and not on the nose.
Taking a minute to explain what you mean by “not on the nose” will be enormously helpful to the writer–and it will help you to clarify your own opinions about what makes dialogue ring true.
Another element that separates these two examples is that Tori wrote her review with confidence–she’s making an argument for what she thinks is best. In the end, the confidence of her opinions makes her review a lightning rod for dialogue issues in the manuscript, so that the writer will know that Tori thinks dialogue is something to put a lot of thought into for the next draft.
If you aren’t sure enough about what the writer is trying to do on the page, then by all means ask them. When you aren’t following something you are reading, it’s easy to think that the fault is your own–you missed something and now you’re lost. But a writer’s job is to carry the reader forward in a story, and if there is a hole in the narrative, or something else that makes you confused, go ahead and say that. Let’s say a character is suddenly speaking, and you have no idea where they came from. It’s okay to highlight the character’s name and ask, “Who is this?” After all, if you don’t ask, the writer might never know how confused their readers get at that part. Smoothing that out will help the writers retain readers who come across the manuscript after they’ve revised.
It’s also okay to ask questions that you have about the book’s genre, book details, and anything else that you want to know more about. In fact, it’s sometimes easier to ask questions, because the onus isn’t on the reader to answer. For example, “Are you sure this book is really Literary Fiction?” is a more exploratory way of saying “You’ve categorized this book as Literary Fiction but I think you’re wrong.” Better yet, asking questions starts a dialogue between the reviewer and the author, and dialogue is how you start to build your writing community.
You don’t have to read the whole book.
Of course, each of us would be thrilled to log in to Book Country and see that a generous member has taken the time to carefully read and review our entire manuscript. And many Book Country members do this as a matter of course. But it’s also okay to read a few chapters of a manuscript and review just what you’ve read. Be up front with the writer about how much you read. If you lost interest in the manuscript, tell them where. You can even tell them if there was something about their formatting style that you found distracting. Reading a book in your favorite genre is supposed to be fun, so if you find yourself not having fun, tell the writer what you think is missing from the reading experience.
What the best piece of feedback you’ve ever gotten on Book Country? Share on the discussion boards.