Raise your hand if this has happened to you….
You submit your manuscript to a contest or send it to a critique group or get feedback from agents.
One judge says your characters are well-developed. The other says they are one-dimensional.
One critique partner says your plot is too slow. The other says you’ve written a page-turner.
One agent says your work isn’t ready. The other says you’re so very close.
I think most of us can raise our hands. I think most of us understand that feedback can be confusing and contradictory.
As my debut novel makes its way into readers’ hands, I’m learning that the confusion and the contradictions don’t end with contests and critique groups and agent searches. It continues after publication. In a little land called Review World.
I’ve taken some snippets from various reviews of Wildflowers from Winter to highlight my point. It was a highly entertaining endeavor…
- This is a decidedly light, romantic novel.
- At times I felt as if the emotion was so overwhelming I couldn’t breathe.
- It’s a great book to take on vacation. One that’ll help you unwind after work.
- It’s not what I’d call a “bathtub” read. It’s full of meat and potatoes.
- Although at times I wanted to roll my eyes at the corny romance plot that is present in so many Christian novels, Wildflowers from Winter can be recommended for those who desire a wholesome read with a fast-paced plotline.
- I am proud to say that I FINALLY found a Christian romance that I liked, and even scarier, related to! This book restored my faith in Christian romance. (emphasis not mine)
- Somewhat predictable
- Twists that keep you guessing
- I had a hard time connecting with the main characters.
- You can’t help but fall in love with these characters.
- Bethany is a hard character to identify with in the beginning.
- I identified with Bethany’s struggles and rooted for her from the very beginning.
- I’ve never met a protagonist I disliked as much as this one.
- I LOVED the character of Bethany! (emphasis not mine)
- Bethany never changes!
- The reader could see a drastic change.
- While this book was a slow start for me, once I was fully engaged in the storyline, I couldn’t put it down.
- Ganshert’s fresh beautiful voice gripped me from page one and hung on until the last page.
- The prologue set me off on the wrong foot. Actually, after the prologue, I didn’t even like the book. But take my word for it and stick with it!
- I barely made it through the prologue before asking myself, “WHO is this new writer and WHEN is she writing the next one?” (emphasis not mine)
Alternating Third and First Person POVs:
- I found it distracting, though not hard to follow.
- Especially compelling are the first person passages interspersed in the main narrative.
- Only real drawback for me was the author’s choice to switch back and forth from first to third narrative.
- The book shifts at times to the past, which creatively adds substance and depth to the story line.
- I would not recommend this book to anyone. (Thankfully, this person’s flying solo so far.)
- I could not put this book down and would recommend it to everyone!
Alright, So what gives?
How is it possible for one person to love Bethany and another to hate her? How can one person say the book is a lighthearted easy read, yet another call it “gut-wrenching” and filled with depth?
Are you ready for the beautiful, amazing, glorious truth?
Neither. Both. Nobody. All.
Because taste is subjective.
Thank the Lord, taste is subjective!
If you have the basics mastered, like Jody Hedlund talks about in a post titled, 2 Tests that Can Help Writers Sort Through Feedback, then be prepared for…
- Some people to love your work and some to wrinkle their nose at it.
- A nearly perfect score from one judge and an in-the-pits score from another.
- One agent to toss your story aside, another to snatch it up.
- One editor to reject your book after two pages, another to be your biggest advocate.
- One reader to swear off anymore of your novels, another to become your newest, biggest fan.
It’s impossible to please everyone.
Especially if we’re going to write from a place of honesty. Especially if we refuse to play it safe and write from the soul.
Some people will love what we have to offer, because of their background or personal preference or set of beliefs or (insert whatever you want here). And some people won’t, because of all those same reasons.
That truth shouldn’t give us ulcers. It should set us free.
And it should make for really great book club discussions. 🙂 Speaking of, Wildflowers is the May pick for the online Christian Fiction Book Club.
Let’s Talk: Have you ever received contradictory feedback? Feel free to share it here. I promise, it’s therapeutic.