Wednesday, September 9, 2009
How not to respond to criticism
Let’s say you’ve written a novella and are offering it as a free read on your website, along with a comment form. Someone – not me, by the way – comments that the novella reads like an unedited first draft, and points out an especially egregious typo. What is a professional and gracious response to this?
___ Thank you. I’ll be sure to correct the typo.
___ Well, you can’t please everyone.
___ That’s funny. Another person who commented on that typo offered a different way to spell that word.
___ My story has received five-star ratings twelve times. Still, negative comments are always hurtful when they come from other authors.
___ This is a comment I recently received : “i cant waitu ntil i read the next one!!” So you see, criticism from competing authors doesn’t mean as much as praise from avid readers.
___ I’m not trying to sell these stories unless a publisher asks me for them. They are a pleasure to write. And they’re free!
The writer showed me the original feedback, which was critical but polite and honest, since the novella really does need work. Her response included the last five points in my checklist – the praise from the avid reader is a direct quote.
I don’t know if the critiquer will ever read this writer’s work again, but I’m certain I won’t. The passive-aggressive reaction may be less dramatic than the Hoffman/Rice-type meltdown, but they're both unacceptable.