(Transcript) – How to handle people who just don’t “get” your writing (nicely!)

Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  If you want to know more about how to handle people who don’t GET your writing, stay tuned. That’s what we’re talking about today. Welcome as everyone is joining the room. Hi guys. Pop in [and] let me know if you’re new.


Joann Krall ( https://twitter.com/JoannKrall ) : “Hi.”


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Hey Joann!… I saw Kesha [and] Jessica. Oh, and Chris is on too. I haven’t seen YOU in a while, Chris…


Jessica Russell ( https://twitter.com/Jess_JRussell ) : Oh I [want] to [hear] this.


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Oh, you need to know this… Good Jessica… If you pop in, and you are new, type “new” [into] the chat [to] let me know your name so I can say “Hi.”. If you like what we’re talking about as we’re doing this Scope then tap hearts. You do that by just tapping the screen [which] sends hearts and lets me know that you’re there, and engaged,and liking what we’re talking about [laughter].


Chris Gloom ( https://twitter.com/ChrisGloom ) : Yup! Haha. First time I'm awake this early.


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … [laughter] Hey Chris. It’s the first time you’re awake this early. Nice… Some of us have been awake for a WHILE. But that’s okay. We’re all on different schedules. You probably stay up WAY later than I do, so it all works out, right?…


If you like to talk about writing, hit the little “Peri Buddy” down there [to] change that [“plus” to a “check”], and that will let you know when I’m broadcasting, and then as soon as I go live it sends you a notification, or you can catch the replay. And if you know anyone who is writing, they are probably – [well,] they are definitely – encountering negative feedback. So share out on Twitter, or Periscope, or Facebook, [so we] can inspire our writing friends. We’ve got to be a COMMUNITY, right?


I take Scope Notes, as you guys know, at : http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope , so you can always catch notes, replays and transcripts soon there. Then we have a hashtag. If you Scope and write, and Scope about writing, use the hashtag  :


#periscopewriters ( https://twitter.com/search?q=%23periscopewriters&src=typd )  


So we can find and support each other, and give each other hearts and follows and likes and retweets. It’s fun. Join the party. [irrelevant comment]  Okay. So today, how to handle people who don’t get your writing… Tracy joined the room! Tracy’s my inspiration. She’s one of my clients, and her book is almost published, and we had this conversation not so long ago [laughter]. Right Tracy? So you have been there, and you have survived…


Okay. So, when you’re a writer you have to get feedback..


MIguel Rubbio ( https://twitter.com/MiguelangRubio ) : Hey Morgan


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  …Hey! Miguel is in the room. Good to see you… When you write stuff you have to get feedback. There’s NO way AROUND it. I’m sorry. Your writing cannot live in a bubble. Your writing is not MEANT to live in a bubble. Your writing is meant to get out into the world, find readers, transform lives, and have an impact, and it’s meant to get out [there].


Jessica Russell ( https://twitter.com/Jess_JRussell ) : #periscopewriters


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Yes. Thank you Jess. #Periscopewriters… So you HAVE to get in the HABIT – and the EARLIER the BETTER – of having OTHER PEOPLE read your writing. [But] you DO need to be a little bit careful. For instance, if you are BRAND NEW to writing, and you’ve written like ONE CHAPTER, and you’re really nervous about it, DON’T share it on Facebook. Like that’s just not a good idea [laughter]. Don’t do that.


Joann Krall ( https://twitter.com/JoannKrall ) : It is very hard when it is so personal. :)


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  …Oh, Joann says, “It is very hard when it is so personal..”… Yeah. Especially when you’re writing a REALLY PERSONAL story. then I DO recommend that you go ahead and write a [1st] draft, revise it, and edit it, until you FEEL somewhat comfortable. You’re always going to feel a little bit RAW and vulnerable sharing your writing. But get to a good place. Don’t share “chapter one” [where] in chapter one [it’s] like, “How I hit rock bottom with my drug addiction” [laughter]. Don’t RELEASE that to the public. Get a 1st draft, revise [it to] a good spot, and then carefully – if you’re not working with an editor [or other] professional….


Tracy Borgmeyer ( https://twitter.com/tracyborgmeyer ) :    Verbal vomit :-)


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … [laughter] Verbal vomit… Right, the first draft is a verbal vomit. So go ahead and clean it up. Get it to the point where you’re okay with people reading it. But don’t wait TOO LONG. Okay? Sometimes we sit on a manuscript for like YEARS… …Thanks for the hearts guys…  If you wait that long you are missing this beautiful WINDOW of opportunity where you have written something, and you’re PROUD of it, and you’re JUST proud ENOUGH that you’re willing to let other people read it. If that “just proud enough” window passes, it doesn’t matter how good the writing is, you’ll be ashamed of it. I promise [laughter] …Thanks for the hearts guys…


I experience this in my OWN writing. In fact, this happened with my last book. I was getting ready to launch it, [and] i was SO proud of it [that] I wanted everyone to read it. Then a window passes, and you go back to it and you’re like, “I could have changed THIS. I could have added THAT. I could have explained THIS better.” [So] the ENTHUSIASM about your writing, sort of, drops, and you don’t want to shout it from the rooftops quite so much anymore. So when you have that moment when you’re so proud of it, share it with a FEW people.


Joann Krall ( https://twitter.com/JoannKrall ) : Great advice!


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Oh, thanks Joann… Okay. So if you’re not working with an editor or writing coach – we’ll get to that in a second. But if you are just, kind of, doing this on your own, and really just exploring this book in your own free time, then I would recommend you go the route with beta readers. This is a small group of people who, for free – they’re just like family, friends, [or] colleagues – will read your book and just give you some general feedback.


So I recommend you that you try to find three to five people. The reason I say three to five is [that it’s likely] you’re going to have one or two people flake off. So you need at least three [laughter], and then MORE than five is really overwhelming. That’s a lot of feedback. So three to five is like that “sweet spot”.


So get three to five people, and make it, kind of, a FORMAL process. Send them an email and say, “Hey, this is my 1st draft, and I’m working toward publishing it, but I would really love your feedback. Can you get me your feedback within [these specific] dates – like by October 14th – and I have a couple of specific questions for you? Here are the questions.” So, specifics. Here’s the manuscript. I want to publish it. Please get me feedback by October 14th. Here are a couple of questions for you. Okay? Send it as an email, and make it feel OFFICIAL – not off the cuff, but that you really VALUE their opinion, and that you’re going to take their opinion into account when they give you feedback. So you want the beta reader to take some time and really take it seriously. So that’s ONE way of actually deflecting bad, negative feedback. If people don’t think you’re taking it seriously then they’ll very EASILY give you negative feedback. ‘[They’ll be] like, “Nah, this was, kind of, lame.” [laughter].  And they’ll say that off-the-cuff. But if they know that YOU are taking it seriously they will be more considerate. They will be more THOUGHTFUL in the feedback that they give you. So when you present this as a SERIOUS PROJECT that you want their feedback on, that is actually ONE way to MINIMIZE the negative feedback that you get from your beta readers.


Okay. So choose your beta readers WISELY. It’s okay to choose people who love you already [laughter]. It can be your mom [or] your dad – although choose carefully, because not everyone’s mom and dad is equally supportive [laughter]. It can be your best friend. It can be people who ALREADY love you. That’s fine…


JessRB ( https://twitter.com/Jess_JRussell )  : If what [you're] writing involves a few family members? Do you let them be a beta reader?       


Joann Krall ( https://twitter.com/JoannKrall ) : Unless you are writing about them. ;-)


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Jess, “What if [your] writing involves a few family members? Do you let them be a beta reader?”… Ooo! That’s tricky… Joann has the same [issue]…If you KNOW that they’re going to have a negative reaction then I would say DON’T [laughter]. But you could then seek maybe someone who KNOWS your family, and knows the situation you’re writing about, and ask their opinion. And you can specifically [ask], “Hey, is the way I write about my dad in this FAIR, or am I too harsh on him?” [Then just, kind of], get that feedback before you show the person who you’re writing about [laughter].  That’s maybe a more diplomatic way. But let them know, “This is still a 1st draft. I’m writing a chapter about my dad, [so] please don’t tell him I’ve written this.”


So you get this feedback from people who already love [and] support you. [Then] when you read it [irrelevant comment] —


Oh, this is another point that I forgot to mention. Think about the personality of the person you’re asking. If someone is naturally CRITICAL – like everyday complains a lot, [and] finds negative in lots of things in life, they’re going to find negative things about your manuscript [laughter]. It’s just how they see the world.   So if you are thinking about asking someone who is always that, kind of, downer, like “Oh, my life is terrible!” and “The world is falling apart!” and, kind of, grumpy, they’re going to be grumpy about your manuscript. So just think about the PERSONALITY of the person who you are asking as well. So I recommend you ask someone who loves you [laughter] who is an encourager, [and] who is, kind of, an optimist. They will [likely] give you nicer feedback. which is important at this stage.


JessR8 ( https://twitter.com/Jess_JRussell ) : Yep don't ask mom. Got it ;->


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … [laughter] “Don’t ask mom.” Jessica says… That’s so funny, because MY mom the person I ALWAYS ask. But everyone’s relationships are different.


Tracy Borgmeyer ( https://twitter.com/tracyborgmeyer ) :   Yep, don't ask my dad.


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Tracy says, “”Don't ask my dad.”… Totally legitimate… Okay. WHEN they give you the feedback, DO NOT take it personally. This is NOT about YOU. This is NOT about your relationship. More than likely they THINK they are HELPING. More than likely they THINK they are going to help you improve this manuscript, because they’re going to point out a couple of major flaws, and once you fix those the book will be better. That’s PROBABLY what they’re THINKING. Even if what they actually say is, “You repeat yourself a lot, and this is really boring.” [laughter], what they REALLY want is to help you. So don’t take it personally. They are not saying that YOU are a boring person. They are just trying to help your manuscript be a little bit better.


Chris Gloom ( https://twitter.com/ChrisGloo ) : Also probably ask someone who reads your genre right?


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Chris says, “Also [probably ask] someone who reads your genre right?”… Yeah. I would say [that] if you have a pretty “nichey” book — well, actually I think you’re right. So finding beta readers who are in your target genre makes sense, because people who read in [that] genre ALREADY have a lot of common assumptions that they bring to the table [that] you don’t have to EXPLAIN. So if you write a bunch of fantasy [which] involves a new world, and languages, and species and stuff, you don’t have to explain to someone [who asks], “Why is there an ELF in this book?”. [Then you’re] like, “It’s fantasy. Come on!” You won’t have that conversation.


Or Tracy – who’s in here – wrote a book that was geared towards mothers and daughters. And guess what? Her dad didn’t GET it [laughter], because he’s not a mother or a daughter. This is to be EXPECTED, okay?  So, yeah, someone who, kind of, already is part of your target market is a good idea. So don’t take it personally. They’re NOT attacking YOU or your BOOK. They’re just trying to help. They may ALSO have their own BAGGAGE, so take that into account too. They may just be a cynical person, so don’t read too much into it. Take what you can and then leave the rest.


Okay. So beta readers are ONE way to get feedback. Another way to get feedback is to bring in an outside editor, or writing professional. And believe it or not SOME editors give really, really nasty feedback. In fact, I’ve worked with some, and I had to like go and change their comments. I’m like, “That’s just TOO MEAN! You can’t say that to an author!” But I actually have some preventative tips for you. We’re actually going to talk about this more in-depth tomorrow; about choosing an editor to work with, because I think it is REALLY important. Every book NEEDS to be edited, and a lot of people think that you can just go onto Upwork.com and find an editor who charges $15 an hour. That is NOT a good plan [laughter]. So we’re going to talk more about that tomorrow. But even when you get feedback from your editor you have to assume that really trying to help.


Okay. So beta reader [and] editors. Then when you actually publish and release to the world you have to think about the fact that you WILL get feedback. Not everything is going to be sunshine and roses on your Amazon reviews. That’s just NOT how it WORKS, [but] that’s okay. So whether [or not] you want the feedback it’s coming your way, so you should probably, kind of, prep. So remember – and this is, kind of, [like what] Chris [brought up about] the target audience, NOT EVERYONE is SUPPOSED to “get” your writing. Only a SMALL PERCENTAGE of the world is supposed to “get” your writing. So if you’re writing for someone who has very specific life experience, like I think Joann’s is about adoption – if I remember correctly – there are people who will “get” that world. If you’re writing about encouraging mothers and daughters in exploring science together, not everyone is going to “get”  THAT WORLD.


Jessica Russell ( https://twitter.com/Jess_JRussell ) : Not everyone is going to get you or your wiring. Thick skin.


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Yeah. exactly. Jessica says, “Not everyone is going to get you or your writing.”


Jessica Russell ( https://twitter.com/Jess_JRussell ) : Joann, you and I should talk.


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Yeah. “Thick skin”… Yes, Jessica and Joann, yáll should definitely talk… But you don’t necessarily need, I guess,  THICK skin. Like, you don’t need to be an insensitive person, I guess, is what I would say. It’s more that you need a PERSPECTIVE that helps you to decide WHICH feedback is useful, and which feedback should be ignored.


Okay. so when you get the negative feedback you have to consider the fact that [irrelevant comment]…


Tracy Borgmeyer ( https://twitter.com/tracyborgmeyer ) :    I got some crazy feedback with cover design contests too…. As soon as I put the idea out there.


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Tracy [says], “I got some crazy feedback with cover design contests too…. As soon as I put the idea out there”… Yeah. So I think one of the FIRST things you have to do is really DISTANCE yourself from the book. So even though the book is a creation from YOU – like it came totally, 100% from YOU – when people have opinions about the book it is TRULY about the BOOK. Okay? So separate yourself from your art a LITTLE bit.


So that’s, kind of, what I mean about perspective; just recognizing that when people give that feedback it literally is about the [book] that [is] in that cover [and] bound together in [the] form that is “book”. Okay? It is not about YOU, and you have to create that distance.


You also have to have enough distance to see WHO is giving the feedback. If you write got CEOs in corporate America [who are] transitioning careers, and a stay-at-home mom starts bad-mouthing your book, you’ve got to be like, “Okay. I understand that this book is not for you.” So you have to decide [whether or not] to discount that feedback.


The last thing that I would say is that you shouldn’t feel the need to engage, defend, or prove the other person wrong. So if someone gives you feedback and says, “You know, I really thought that Chapter 3 was boring.” You don’t HAVE to go back to them and reply and say, “Well, it’s NOT boring, for all of these reasons…” Don’t do that. That’s a total waste of time and energy.


This is what I want you to walk away with : your energy, motivation and enthusiasm is absolutely the most precious resource that you have as a writer. Your OWN momentum is the only thing that’s going to keep you writing your book. So you better be REALLY careful about where you put your energy. And if someone is giving you a lot of negative feedback you’ve got to learn how to just ignore it and not waste even an iota of energy – I don’t know if “iota” is the right word, but it FEELS right [laughter] – toward that person. You’ve got to cut it off, isolate it, put it in its own little box, and shove it away, It is NOT in your world. Take what valuable feedback you can from that person. If they point out something wrong with Chapter 3 say, “Okay. Noted. Go review Chapter 3.” But [especially on Amazon reviews or blog comments] if there’s any [cussing], or name calling, you put that stuff in a box and push it away [laughter], because it’s not worth you wasting any of your most precious resource, which is your own motivation.


So when you put your work out into the world – which you will HAVE to do, and I ENCOURAGE you to do, because the REASON you are a writer is to put your work out into the world to affect and transform lives. You are going to get feedback. You’re going to get feedback hopefully in a beta reader stage. If you don’t show it to anyone before it publishes you’re asking for a heck of a lot of trouble. Show it to SOMEONE before you publish. Someone, please [laughter]. There are WAY too many people out there who are just like turning out an ebook in like a week, putting it on Amazon and getting terrible reviews. That is totally avoidable.


Let someone into your book before you publish it. Whether it’s through beta readers, [or] an editor, [or just] someone. Get that feedback in the earlier phases, and then expect to get feedback once it’s published. That’s going to happen. Just be ready. Put on your armor [laughter].


Jessica Russell ( https://twitter.com/Jess_JRussell ) : People cuss on Amazon reviews? Wow. Too much time on their hands.  


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … “People cuss on Amazon…?”… Mostly BLOG comments. Yeah. they DO have too much time on their hands. That is true. Or in emails [laughter]. They’ll find your email and send you emails. I’m like, “Really?” If I offended someone SO much that they feel the need to track down my email to send me this nasty letter about how it’s not a good idea to encourage writers. I’m like, “Okay. I have no idea where you’re coming from.” Put that in a box and shove it away [laughter].


But when you get this negative feedback, take what little bits you can, [and] recognize that not everyone is SUPPOSED to get your writing. It’s just not supposed to be. If you’re talking to a specific genre, other genres are not going to get you. [So] then [you should] preserve your own energy and motivation.


So I hope that’s helpful for you guys. We’re going to talk more tomorrow about how to find an editor who’s really good to work with. There are some major WARNING signs, and some GOOD signs that you should look for when choosing someone to work [with]. Thank you guys for all the hearts and comments. I really hope this was helpful. I will catch you tomorrow.


MIguel Rubbio ( https://twitter.com/MiguelangRubio ) : Yes it was!


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  …Thanks Miguel… Okay. You know where to go : http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope to catch notes, replays [and] transcripts…


Joann Krall ( https://twitter.com/JoannKrall ) : Thank you. Always helpful.


Morgan MacDonald ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac) :  … Thanks Joann… And if you do a Scope :


#periscopewriters ( https://twitter.com/search?q=%23periscopewriters&src=typd )  


Okay. Bye guys. Feel free to catch me on Twitter later :

@morgangmac ( https://twitter.com/morgangmac )  

Thank you. Bye.



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