How to Handle Criticism in the Editing Process

When editing your work, criticism is key to improving the quality of your piece. Here are some popular methods of dealing with negative words about your work:

1) Realize no piece is perfect. Even books which go through publishers such as Random House or St. Martin’s Press often contain typos. Imagine that, that book has gone through author edits, an entire editing team and senior editors at the publisher. Mistakes are easily made in books, especially to the authors of them. Don’t feel bad. Just learn from your mistakes and go on.

2) This is not an attack on your personally. The advice you get shouldn’t reflect on your abilities as an author or as a person.

Critiques are solely about your work. What you can do to improve it for the reader. They don’t know you or your piece as well as you, they might need some further detail to improve their reading experience or a clearer message to heighten their appreciation of the book.

3) Consider all advice. Deliberate all recommendations and comments. Just as the villain sparks the hero into action, a skeptic might spark you to improve your book in a way which is beneficial. Believe it or not.

Critics have often helped more authors learn than editors. This is a good position to take after you write a piece. Wait a while, put the project aside. Now, go back through your work as though you were a reader. Imagine a completely different person wrote the book you’re reading and you have complete power to change anything you see.

4) A book can be like a child in many ways. We create them and we must develop them. I know of one internationally popular author who has candidly spoke of rewriting the same novel at least 25 times. He uses that same devotion to every piece he creates. That is dedication – and that is the reason he is reputable and respected.

5) Be weary of flattery. This is the supreme compliment to a writer, yet it doesn’t show us anything. Accept it, be appreciative of it, thank the fan for the kind words and their interest. Yet, don’t wallow in it. This gives us a pillow to rest on when we need it, but it also convinces us our work is without flaw. It is a great feeling to see a fan letter from a complete stranger, but don’t use them as sole merits to your work.

Cherish them and love the positive response, but don’t allow it to hinder your growth. One person might think your work is perfect, as-is. But, that doesn’t mean every work you create will be as flawless. There might even be flaws in the enjoyed piece you haven’t caught.

6) Be realistic. If you don’t show much attention to the editing process, then you will have a poorly-written piece. You must be honest with yourself. The more attention you pay to the editing process, the better your work will be. The greater your reputation will be. Don’t expect your manuscript to “wow” them. Professionals are experts at dissecting novels. Even from big-name authors. Not only will your work pass through one editor, at a big publisher, it will go through literal teams of editors. Four and five at a time.

These are the best in the industry, not merely English teachers. Your work will be scrutinized by people with academic and collegian knowledge of grammar and usage. It is their daily routine to pick and pry at a novel. To tear it apart and show every flaw. Because they are the best, they want to publish the best.

If anything, this should flatter an author. They are taking the time to show you how to make your work immaculate to their standards. They are taking the time to coach you into becoming a respected writer. Just imagine the number of manuscripts which make their way from the slush pile to the wastebasket. Be honored that you were chosen out of thousands of possibilities. Your work did, indeed, wow them enough to warrant their sole attention and instruction.