Author Topic: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form  (Read 3710 times)  

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« on: December 13, 2010, 11:21:33 AM »
http://www.bardsandsages.com/positivepublishing/ratingsystem.pdf

I made a promise when I launched Bards and Sages that I would never send out a form rejection letter.  I don't think they help writers, and they certainly don't help improve the quality of submissions received by editors.  Sure, they are a quick way to get through the slush pile, but without telling writers what they are doing wrong they just keep adding to the slush pile.  But some writers, well, let's just say they don't take criticism in a positive manner.  So I changed my guidelines so that I would only provide personalized feedback to those writers that specifically requested it.  But now what happens is the writer might wait a week or two before actually requesting feedback, which means now I have to go back and reread the story.  I'm reading between twenty to thirty submissions a week.  I can't remember them all.

So my boyfriend actually had a great idea as he was watching me stress out over a pile of slush.  I have something of a formula I use when I read submissions already.  Why not formalize it and just send the results to the writers?  Instead of a generic form letter, the writer would get a form with their own personal scores on it.  It would pretty much show the writer exactly what I'm thinking.  The writer would get a reply with their scores on each catagory, and anything than scores under a three would get further written explanation.  And the reply would include a link to the above page so they can see exactly what the scores mean.  I think making this available would be helpful because it would show writers exactly what we look for.

So those of you that still submit to publications (or think about submitting), do you think this would be helpful?



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Offline Monique

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2010, 11:29:40 AM »
"Abject failure. It takes significant effort to be this bad. If your goal was to put forth the worst possible effort, then congratulations. You succeeded."

"Poor. Cannot manage even the most basic elements of the category at a 5th grade level."

Seriously?

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2010, 12:00:31 PM »
Seriously?

Sort of.  ::)

Actually, the addition of a zero or 1 score are psychological.  I rarely see anything that bad (I do, sometimes, but it is rare these days).  It's something I learned from my work in human resources.  Most employee evaluations are one through ten, but the person conducting the eval is only actually given options to rate someone 2 to 9.  The theory is so long as their is a number below what the person scored (in the case of a two or three), they don't feel as bad about their own low score and will be more motivated to improve.  And so long as their is a number about what the person scored (in the case of 8 and 9s) they don't get complacent and think they are perfect. 

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Offline Monique

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2010, 12:03:41 PM »
Be that as it may, the wording of those is designed to hurt, not help.

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Offline Madeline

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2010, 12:06:58 PM »
Yeah, I'm having a strong reaction to those 0 and 1 options.  Writing is a tough enough business without a rejection slip hurling around more insults.   

I think its great that you're this concerned about providing feedback.  That makes you stand out above the crowd all the much more.   

But even if I got a higher feedback number from you for a submission, just seeing those two options on the paper would definately churn my stomach and I wouldn't be submitting to you any more.   

Perhaps that's your goal...to scare the crap out of the people who are sending you crap.  But, uh, just saying "Please don't submit here again" looks A LOT better. 
« Last Edit: December 13, 2010, 12:09:59 PM by Madeline »
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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2010, 12:21:19 PM »
Well I'm asking for opinions, ergo I am open to alternative wording. ;D

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Offline David 'Half-Orc' Dalglish

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2010, 12:25:41 PM »
Quote
0: This is bad. Really, amazingly bad. It's rare, but these writers are out there, and it is just as painful giving this score as it is reading the material that deserves it.

I like this better, but personally, I'm not against the ratings. Sure, they seem cruel...but I'm thinking we baby writers and self-publishers enough as is. Someone submitted to Julie of all people should be aware of what they're getting into.

David Dalglish
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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2010, 12:45:49 PM »
I like this better, but personally, I'm not against the ratings. Sure, they seem cruel...but I'm thinking we baby writers and self-publishers enough as is. Someone submitted to Julie of all people should be aware of what they're getting into.

David Dalglish

Well, I appreciate the feedback and...hey...waaaaiiiitttt a second.... :P

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Offline Madeline

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2010, 12:47:24 PM »
Well, I appreciate the feedback and...hey...waaaaiiiitttt a second.... :P

Hahahaha  ;D
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Offline telracs

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2010, 12:49:53 PM »
May I make a suggestion?  Make the scores be about the book, not the author ["book fails to acheive", rather than, "cannot manage 5th grade"].  

Offline David 'Half-Orc' Dalglish

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2010, 12:51:00 PM »
Well, I appreciate the feedback and...hey...waaaaiiiitttt a second.... :P

Just saying someone submitting to you should not expect a kind pat on the head, a "you did fine, little noobie writer, so I'll ignore your non-standard punctuation, your first-person present-tense told-in-flashback prologue, and that you referred to me as Mr. Bards and Sages" when they submit to you. Seems only fair warning.

David Dalglish

p.s.

Scarlet has a good idea about the changes. Even a good writer can write a bad book, so making sure all comments are explicitly directed at the work is only fair.
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Offline Monique

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2010, 12:53:02 PM »
Good suggestion, Scarlet.

It's one thing to pat someone on the head and it's another to kick them in it. Isn't there a middle ground that will still warn people what they're getting into without eviscerating them?

ETA: Unless, of course, evisceration is part of the suite of best in breed services offered. If that's the case, leave it as is.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2010, 12:55:10 PM by Monique »

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Offline David McAfee

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2010, 12:54:36 PM »
May I make a suggestion?  Make the scores be about the book, not the author ["book fails to acheive", rather than, "cannot manage 5th grade"].  

Good suggestion. Will feel less like a personal attack. :)

Offline Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2010, 09:50:31 AM »
I use a 'boiler plate' of suggestions when assessing manuscripts. Most manuscripts fail for the same reasons: 'telling' instead of 'showing', poor characterisation, too wordy, lack of focus, over writing, poor plotting etc. I have a paragraph for each, explaining what is wrong and how it can be remedied.  Takes a while to set up the initial boiler plate, but pays dividends later. ;)

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Offline Cliff Ball

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2010, 11:13:31 AM »
Just say, "This novel sucks!" and there ya go  :D
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Offline Asher MacDonald

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2010, 12:13:38 PM »
I think you are opening a can of worms if you want to rate their effort in a rejection slip. I don't see the problem with a "Thanks but no thanks" approach. If the work had promise but didn't make the cut, then personalize the reply a bit.

Offline MariaESchneider

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2010, 12:22:45 PM »
http://www.bardsandsages.com/positivepublishing/ratingsystem.pdf

I made a promise when I launched Bards and Sages that I would never send out a form rejection letter.  I don't think they help writers, and they certainly don't help improve the quality of submissions received by editors.  Sure, they are a quick way to get through the slush pile, but without telling writers what they are doing wrong they just keep adding to the slush pile.  But some writers, well, let's just say they don't take criticism in a positive manner.  So I changed my guidelines so that I would only provide personalized feedback to those writers that specifically requested it.  But now what happens is the writer might wait a week or two before actually requesting feedback, which means now I have to go back and reread the story.  I'm reading between twenty to thirty submissions a week.  I can't remember them all.

So my boyfriend actually had a great idea as he was watching me stress out over a pile of slush.  I have something of a formula I use when I read submissions already.  Why not formalize it and just send the results to the writers?  Instead of a generic form letter, the writer would get a form with their own personal scores on it.  It would pretty much show the writer exactly what I'm thinking.  The writer would get a reply with their scores on each catagory, and anything than scores under a three would get further written explanation.  And the reply would include a link to the above page so they can see exactly what the scores mean.  I think making this available would be helpful because it would show writers exactly what we look for.

So those of you that still submit to publications (or think about submitting), do you think this would be helpful?




Any feedback is helpful and since you are the one doing it do what works best for you.  If an editor is kind enough to provide feedback, I generally get to it right away and if I have a question about something, I ask.  Those willing to provide feedback are also usually willing to answer a question or two.

Offline ericbt

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2010, 12:56:51 PM »
I don't think this is helpful at all.  I've been going through extensive training, learning how to write in a vacuum.  Feedback like this will undo months, nay, years of on-the-job training where I've been learning how to hone my craft based on form rejection letters that say little more than "thanks, but no thanks".  It is clearly your intention to undermine the whole system of writing for publication and I refuse to participate in your insidious plan.




 ;)

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2010, 06:48:27 AM »
I don't think this is helpful at all.  I've been going through extensive training, learning how to write in a vacuum.  Feedback like this will undo months, nay, years of on-the-job training where I've been learning how to hone my craft based on form rejection letters that say little more than "thanks, but no thanks".  It is clearly your intention to undermine the whole system of writing for publication and I refuse to participate in your insidious plan.
 ;)

Yep, that's me alright.  Always engaged in some insidious plan to accomplish...well...frankly I don't know what I expect to accomplish.

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Offline G.L. Douglas

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2010, 08:59:35 AM »
This is one more example as to why I'm leaving the world of writing. On the whole, I find those in positions of judment/authority to be a very snarky, unkind bunch who want things their way, or the highway.

There are very few "born writers," but those who are not should not be ridiculed and scorned.  If anything, simply provide the aspiring novice writer links to writing rules and help sites. I would think that there are many awesome stories untold. If only those writers would take time to improve their craft.
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Offline WestofMars

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2010, 09:16:59 AM »
Julie, as an ex-college instructor, I find your rubric to be similar to what I used to grade Freshman comp papers (and similar to what my 5th grader brings home, as well). Therefore, I'm all for it and would find such a response fascinating (in fact, I'm curious to submit something just to see how you'd grade it.). Once my pride stopped being pricked, anyway. But that's the risk we take whenever we submit.

I do like the change to make it less personal and more about the manuscript. Rejection is brutal enough without it feeling personal.

Offline altworld

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2010, 10:40:19 AM »
I try my best to be constructive with my critic, to motivate at the same time saying what is wrong with the work I am reviewing. Most of the time I get it right, sometimes I don't and only once have I been downright cruel in a review - but in my defense that was to someone who really did know better.

I don't know you Julie, don't know anything about what you do, or your publishing company. So I am going to be constructive with my critic here too.

You can let people down without subjecting them to the judgmental snarkism of the first four score catagories, simply those comments are not needed and are too personal. In most cases if someone scores that low, a thank you, but no thank you is the courtesy you can give that person without affecting your reputation. Your putting too much effort into something that is not needed to put the effort into, and the entire form comes across as plain... arrogant. And I don't think that is the impression you want to give of your company.

Be professional, not personal and this form feels personal...

If this sounds wrong, or as a personal attack on Julie I am sorry. I'm just not big on destroying peoples dreams, because that is all we have to sustain us as we go through life as we rot away in our individual boxes.
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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2010, 06:26:33 AM »
This is one more example as to why I'm leaving the world of writing. On the whole, I find those in positions of judment/authority to be a very snarky, unkind bunch who want things their way, or the highway.

Funny, I have found writers to be a whiny, thin-skinned bunch who expect people to pay them for their crap even when they don't bother to run it through a spellchecker.  Odd how that works out. ::)

Look, I posted this because I AGREE that writers need constructive feedback.  Nobody improves with a generic rejection letter.

I posted this because I HOPED I would get some useful feedback on making this more constructive.  I've said I am open to changing the wording.  I just posted this to get my ideas down.  Unlike all of the writers around here lately who post threads asking for feedback, and then saying "Well, you are all wrong I am not changing anything" I've already said I'm willing to change ANYTHING

This is something I have been struggling with.  I read dozens of submissions a week.  I tried the "constructive feedback" approach and had writers flip out on me.  So I tried the "we will only give feedback upon request" approach and had people flip out on me AFTER they specifically asked me for feedback.  And it doesn't matter WHAT I say to some of these people. 

Just this morning, I got a flaming email from someone.  This is what I had sent them Sunday:

Quote
Thank you for your submission to the journal.  Unfortunately, it does not meet our needs.  Our submission guidelines state that we accept stories up to 2,000 words.  This submission is twice that long.  As such, we cannot consider it for publication.

THIS is what I get this morning:

Quote
Well Im sorry I dont meet-your-needs.  Did you even bother to READ the story?  Probably not because you probably just like sending out rejection letters.  If you had bothered to read it you would have realized that even though it was a little over your word count that it would have been a great story for your magazine.  Come to think of it your magazine doesnt meet-my-needs because it isnt even that good.  Bet you dont like rejection either.

So don't get on your high horse about snarky people in authority because I'm in no mood.   THIS is what I see every damn day.  And instead of closing my doors and just doing what sane editors do and just sent out form rejection letters, I'm here trying to do something constructive to help writers.  I posted this because I didn't want to move forward without getting feedback on things that need to be changed.  Now if you have something CONSTRUCTIVE to add and maybe a suggestion for wording that would be preferable, by all means post it.  If not, then do as you said and leave the world of writing so me and other editors don't have to deal with you.


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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2010, 06:28:49 AM »
Julie, as an ex-college instructor, I find your rubric to be similar to what I used to grade Freshman comp papers (and similar to what my 5th grader brings home, as well). Therefore, I'm all for it and would find such a response fascinating (in fact, I'm curious to submit something just to see how you'd grade it.). Once my pride stopped being pricked, anyway. But that's the risk we take whenever we submit.

I do like the change to make it less personal and more about the manuscript. Rejection is brutal enough without it feeling personal.

This is pretty much the scale I use for the writing contest and the journal.  I thought it would be useful if people actually saw the numbers to understand what we're looking for.  As I said, I know the wording needs to be adjusted.  I was just trying to get my thoughts down on paper before moving forward with this and seeing what needed to be added/subtracted before going live. 

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Offline MariaESchneider

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2010, 06:55:09 AM »
This is one more example as to why I'm leaving the world of writing. On the whole, I find those in positions of judment/authority to be a very snarky, unkind bunch who want things their way, or the highway.



Uhm, anyone in power is pretty much like that.  Nothing to do with the writing arena. A lot of people who end up in position of power are snarky, arrogant and only believe in their point of view.  Lots of them tend to dole out paychecks as though they're doing employees a huge favor---never mind that the employees *earned* that paycheck...

What Julie is doing is offering to take the time to explain why something didn't work for *her.*  One might call it coaching to some extent--or just throwing an opinion out there as food for thought.  No one has to take the opinion one way or the other.  But by doing so, she goes above and beyond what any of us generally get out of a "no." 

Offline MariaESchneider

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #25 on: December 20, 2010, 07:03:39 AM »
Funny, I have found writers to be a whiny, thin-skinned bunch who expect people to pay them for their crap even when they don't bother to run it through a spellchecker.  Odd how that works out. ::)

Look, I posted this because I AGREE that writers need constructive feedback.  Nobody improves with a generic rejection letter.

I posted this because I HOPED I would get some useful feedback on making this more constructive.  I've said I am open to changing the wording.  I just posted this to get my ideas down.  Unlike all of the writers around here lately who post threads asking for feedback, and then saying "Well, you are all wrong I am not changing anything" I've already said I'm willing to change ANYTHING

This is something I have been struggling with.  I read dozens of submissions a week.  I tried the "constructive feedback" approach and had writers flip out on me.  So I tried the "we will only give feedback upon request" approach and had people flip out on me AFTER they specifically asked me for feedback.  And it doesn't matter WHAT I say to some of these people. 

Just this morning, I got a flaming email from someone.  This is what I had sent them Sunday:

THIS is what I get this morning:

So don't get on your high horse about snarky people in authority because I'm in no mood.   THIS is what I see every d*mn day.  And instead of closing my doors and just doing what sane editors do and just sent out form rejection letters, I'm here trying to do something constructive to help writers.  I posted this because I didn't want to move forward without getting feedback on things that need to be changed.  Now if you have something CONSTRUCTIVE to add and maybe a suggestion for wording that would be preferable, by all means post it.  If not, then do as you said and leave the world of writing so me and other editors don't have to deal with you.



Boy do I hear this...

One of the things that I learned after having had stuff critiqued over the years--and maybe this will work for you--one of the most efficient ways to critique is to select ONE, possibly TWO issues and mention those.  It is also VERY helpful if you can mention ONE or TWO things that worked.

"In order to be published, a work has to be perfectly polished.  When I see spelling and grammar errors, while they can be fixed..."

"In a short story, head hopping, or multiple POV..."

It's like any other endeavor--sometimes it can be overwhelming to hear that not only can I not spell, I can't create a likable character, my nouns and verbs don't agree and on top of that, none of the names I used can be pronounced without a synthesizer...

In other words, it might take less of your time to highlight the most obvious issue, end on a positive note and move on, rather than break down the entire manuscript. 

But again, for a writer willing to listen, any feedback is good.  I don't take all feedback as golden, but I do read it.  I do think about it.  Sometimes it really is the reader.  But 9 times out of 10, however the 'problem' is described, I can find a way to better the writing.

Offline NoahMullette-Gillman

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #26 on: December 20, 2010, 07:16:39 AM »
I worry that by giving such a detailed rejection you're really doing almost as much work as writing a review?


Also, I agree with those who suggest that there's no need to have even the lowest ratings worded in a provocative way. Presumably, anyone who submits is under the IMPRESSION that they've written something worth-while. ;)
Criticizing the work and not the author sounds like a good first step?

Also, maybe describing the ratings as relating to your experience rather than an objective fact?
Example: 1 - I didn't enjoy the work at all. 2 - It just wasn't for me. Etc....

But kudos to you for taking the time to give any feedback at all in a situation when most people in your position don't!


@G.L. - There will always be people who are rough and impolite in any business. If writing is your calling, fight through those who try to discourage you and don't let it get you bitter! It's worth it in the long run. :)

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #27 on: December 20, 2010, 07:29:37 AM »
I worry that by giving such a detailed rejection you're really doing almost as much work as writing a review?

Well, the theory is that once this form is finalized, I will just be able to post a link to it on my site and then when I send out replies just refer to the numbers.  As I said, I pretty much use this system anyway, so it is just a matter of letting the author see the scores I am assigning.  If I can get it tweeked, this would actually save me a lot of time while also letting writers know exactly what I felt worked and what didn't.  The author would get an e-mail reply that reads like:

Character Development Score:    [   3   ]               
Dialogue Score:         [   2   ]   Dialogue felt stilted at times and didn't help move the story along.            
Grammar and Punctuation Score:   [   5   ]               
Narrative Voice Score:      [   3   ]               
Originality Score:         [   4   ]               
Plot Score:         [   4   ]               
Point of View Score:      [   2   ]   Constant jumping around of POV confuses the plot.         
World Building Score:      [   4   ]               

Then if they really cared they could go check out the explanation of the scores for more information.  They can see what they are doing right and what needs work.  And formalizing the scores takes some of the "OMG SHE IS ATTACKING ME" out of it (I hope, at least.)

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #28 on: December 20, 2010, 07:45:43 AM »
Quote
What the numbers mean:

0 Poor.  Requires significant revision or reworking.
1 Sub-par.  Does not meet minimum expectations for the category.
2 Fair. Shows potential, but would require revision before being publishable.
3 Average. Demonstrates a basic understanding of the norms expected.  Meets minimum expectations.
4 Good.  Demonstrates a solid understanding of the norms expected.  Shows a solid grasp of the necessary elements of the category.
5 Excellent.  Exceeds expectations.  Demonstrates above average understanding of the norms of the category. 
6 Exceptional.  One of the best we have ever seen.  Cannot imagine how it can be improved upon. 


Does this work better?

Any thoughts on the rest of the document?  We got sort of caught up on the rankings I don't know if there was any feedback on the rest of it.

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Offline JoeMitchell

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #29 on: December 20, 2010, 07:57:04 AM »
I think it's a good thing you're doing, Julie.  I agree with those who say to make the wording less personal.  That email snippet you posted was eye opening.  You must have a lot of stories like that, and I can see your frustration.  Honestly, I'd never want to do what you do, critiquing other people's work.  Especially here, in this area where so many non-professionals are trying to act professional, and some don't even realize it's expected.


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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #30 on: December 20, 2010, 07:58:21 AM »
The new version is excellent. I'd say go with that.

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #31 on: December 20, 2010, 08:01:37 AM »


Does this work better?

Any thoughts on the rest of the document?  We got sort of caught up on the rankings I don't know if there was any feedback on the rest of it.

Just to comment on that new revised list, I think it's a huge improvement!  I really like it much better, and it seems way more likely to have the effect you're looking to achieve.


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Offline Steve Silkin

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #32 on: December 20, 2010, 08:04:23 AM »
I think you are opening a can of worms if you want to rate their effort in a rejection slip. I don't see the problem with a "Thanks but no thanks" approach. If the work had promise but didn't make the cut, then personalize the reply a bit.

I second the motion.

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #33 on: December 20, 2010, 08:22:22 AM »
I see several posts referring either directly or indirectly to me, and I'd like to add that I have not personally been on the receiving end of unprofessional extremes. BUT, in reading agents' comments on Twitter and reading snippets of agents' comments that writers have posted here and elsewhere, it seems that agents are either burned out or on a power trip, or both.  It hurts my heart to read such cruelty to others, many times under the guise of humor or cleverness.

I have endured stinging critiques of my early work by my writers' group and online critique groups, from which I learned and refined my novel into a saleable form. I believe it's still rough in some spots, but I've learned more since publishing it, and would change a few things if I were to re-do it.  The point here is that the brutal comments and stinging critiques are expected and sought out when a writer submits a work for CRITIQUE.  When a writer submits their work to a professional agency (even when the writer has no writing skills, poor spelling/grammar, etc), the reply should be professional...regardless of how the employee of the professional agency perceives the work.

An impressive business should have professional employees who treat everyone with civility and respect, regardless of their personal feelings on the issue/subject at hand. Comment should made within professional parameters, then move on and avoid the need to make the encounter personal.

Why people find the need to slam and belittle others is a sad commentary on the direction this country is heading. Division will eventually take us down. I've often said that if women would band together and support each other that we could rule the world!  heh  Instead, it seems many prefer to fault-find, ridicule, and sabotage.

There are three agents on Twitter who are consistently kind, helpful and encouraging in their brief comments.  They don't delight in posting hurtful/negative comments, but stand out as ones who genuinely love their work and understand the impression they make can carry over to their entire line of work.

Key words: Civility, Respect, Professionalism

A impressive bonus would be encouragement/direction by the authority figure.

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Offline altworld

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #34 on: December 20, 2010, 08:27:17 AM »
When a writer submits their work to a professional agency (even when the writer has no writing skills, poor spelling/grammar, etc), the reply should be professional...regardless of how the employee of the professional agency perceives the work...

An impressive business should have professional employees who treat everyone with civility and respect, regardless of their personal feelings on the issue/subject at hand. Comment should made within professional parameters, then move on and avoid the need to make the encounter personal....

Key words: Civility, Respect, Professionalism

A impressive bonus would be encouragement/direction by the authority figure.

Paraphrased the quote to the most important parts of your post, I cannot agree more with what you said.
Arigato,
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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #35 on: December 20, 2010, 08:29:17 AM »
I think it's a good thing you're doing, Julie.  I agree with those who say to make the wording less personal.  That email snippet you posted was eye opening.  You must have a lot of stories like that, and I can see your frustration.  Honestly, I'd never want to do what you do, critiquing other people's work.  Especially here, in this area where so many non-professionals are trying to act professional, and some don't even realize it's expected.


Honestly, most of the time I love it.   When I get an e-mail that says "this is my first paid work" or "I've never had anything published before!" it makes my day.  I've developed really good relationships with a lot of my authors, who submit new work regularly.  (Or as one said to me recently "I send everything to you first cause I know you'll shoot straight if it sucks.").  A lot of the stories we published were rejected the first go round, but then the author would revise the story based on feedback and turn in amazing work that would leave me thinking "gee, why didn't you do this the first time?" ;D  It's just the people who feel entitled to my money regardless of my actual needs/goals/wants that get on my nerves.  

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Offline Edward C. Patterson

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #36 on: December 20, 2010, 08:51:13 AM »
Where did the Fun go in writing?  ;D

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Offline telracs

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #37 on: December 20, 2010, 08:54:16 AM »
Where did the Fun go in writing?  ;D

ECPeterpaulandmary

Actually, if you're doing PPM, it should be "where did the fun in writing go?" 

Julie,  One thing I want to reiterate is that no matter WHAT you do, some people will be appreciative, some people will think you're crazy for not loving what they wrote and some people will flame you.  Do what is right for you and your venue and be happy in it. 

Offline R. Doug

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #38 on: December 20, 2010, 09:01:54 AM »
Actually, if you're doing PPM, it should be "where did the fun in writing go?" 

Or, "Where went the fun in writing?"   ;D
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Offline Edward C. Patterson

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #39 on: December 20, 2010, 09:05:03 AM »
Actually, if you're doing PPM, it should be "where did the fun in writing go?"  

Julie,  One thing I want to reiterate is that no matter WHAT you do, some people will be appreciative, some people will think you're crazy for not loving what they wrote and some people will flame you.  Do what is right for you and your venue and be happy in it.  
I'm doing PMS  ;D

And I agree. When you publish, you're open to everthing and everyone, and so it goes. But when you submit, you're acknowledging a superior being, and so it blows (in the wind, to keep this PPM). Most authors only recognize one being as superior, and She's too busy writing the 10 commandments, which I hear was rejected by many as "too many rules."  ;D

She who must be obeyed

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Offline Gabriela Popa

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #40 on: December 20, 2010, 09:42:18 AM »
Julie,

I believe it is useful for authors to have any kind of feedback and the scores will help many people who desire to improve their work.  Those who are offended by feedback perhaps can not be helped too much anyway.  You will be providing significant help - so I say go for it.  You can take a look a few months from now and see how it's working.

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #41 on: December 20, 2010, 11:17:06 AM »
Julie,

I believe it is useful for authors to have any kind of feedback and the scores will help many people who desire to improve their work.  Those who are offended by feedback perhaps can not be helped too much anyway.  You will be providing significant help - so I say go for it.  You can take a look a few months from now and see how it's working.

Gabriela
Both authors and critics take themselves too seriously. Readers are the true gold. Those that read to score are call School marms.  ;D I write for one reader at a time, and if that reader sits in a star-chamber, so be it shades of Torquemada.  ;D Feedback is wonderful, especially before publication. Reviews are handy, but authors need to take them on face value. Scoring is for competitions, of which authoring is not. Now my bathroom scale may provide quantitative feedback which I can either embrace or ignore, but that's physics, not der Augsberger kriederkreis.

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Offline flanneryohello

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #42 on: December 20, 2010, 11:42:26 AM »
I think the feedback form as it stands is great. And I think that providing that level of feedback is really very generous, so kudos on that.

While I understand the concern about how negative feedback will be delivered, I do think that a certain level of blunt honesty is acceptable (rather than a polite "thanks, but no thanks"). Frankly, anyone who is submitting work that falls into the 1-2 range is due for a reality check. Given Julie's description of the type of work that would merit a score of 1 in particular, we're talking about a completely incompetent effort. Those types of submission are a waste of time for all involved, and I think it's good for a writer to realize that (assuming they will actually accept the feedback, which is far from assured). I don't think that coddling people, or even glossing over real deficiencies in their efforts, helps anyone--least of all the writer in question. It reminds me of those completely tone-deaf, terrible singers who audition for American Idol and are genuinely shocked when they're rejected, because their mom/friend/"singing coach" has told them they're wonderful. I'm sure mom/friend/"singing coach" just wants to make them feel good, but when you shine people on, eventually they will encounter someone who tells it like it is, and their entire world gets rocked. It's kinder to be honest than to give someone false hope.

Writing is a tough business. Even if you make it past the gatekeepers and get published, you'll face negative reviews (if you're read enough). Developing a thick skin is one of the most important tasks for any writer. So yeah, focusing on the work rather than the person is a good idea, but I don't think you should shy away from your typical brand of bluntness. Not only will it help enlighten the clueless, but it will also let people know what to expect if they want to work with you. And at the end of the day, this is just one person's opinion, and writers who cannot handle hearing an opinion are probably better off finding some other way to spend their time.

Offline Edward C. Patterson

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #43 on: December 20, 2010, 11:47:42 AM »
I think the feedback form as it stands is great. And I think that providing that level of feedback is really very generous, so kudos on that.

While I understand the concern about how negative feedback will be delivered, I do think that a certain level of blunt honesty is acceptable (rather than a polite "thanks, but no thanks"). Frankly, anyone who is submitting work that falls into the 1-2 range is due for a reality check. Given Julie's description of the type of work that would merit a score of 1 in particular, we're talking about a completely incompetent effort. Those types of submission are a waste of time for all involved, and I think it's good for a writer to realize that (assuming they will actually accept the feedback, which is far from assured). I don't think that coddling people, or even glossing over real deficiencies in their efforts, helps anyone--least of all the writer in question. It reminds me of those completely tone-deaf, terrible singers who audition for American Idol and are genuinely shocked when they're rejected, because their mom/friend/"singing coach" has told them they're wonderful. I'm sure mom/friend/"singing coach" just wants to make them feel good, but when you shine people on, eventually they will encounter someone who tells it like it is, and their entire world gets rocked. It's kinder to be honest than to give someone false hope.

Writing is a tough business. Even if you make it past the gatekeepers and get published, you'll face negative reviews (if you're read enough). Developing a thick skin is one of the most important tasks for any writer. So yeah, focusing on the work rather than the person is a good idea, but I don't think you should shy away from your typical brand of bluntness. Not only will it help enlighten the clueless, but it will also let people know what to expect if they want to work with you. And at the end of the day, this is just one person's opinion, and writers who cannot handle hearing an opinion are probably better off finding some other way to spend their time.

Developing a thick skin is one of the first rules of branding. The reading public des not tolerate an author whose being flogged to spit back. 'tisn't seemly and it hampers branding. Ocassionally an author can sue. After 50 years, my skins so thick I'm often mistaken for a crocadile or just an old crock.  ;D
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Offline div

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #44 on: December 20, 2010, 02:12:00 PM »
Julie,

As long as your feedback is not a personal attack on the writer, I think it would be helpful to the writer. I know I would like to have seen what improvements I could have made to make the book more sellable to the traditional publisher.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Offline WestofMars

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #45 on: December 20, 2010, 03:12:44 PM »
Julie, I love the new form so much, I am now thinking of submitting to you, just to see how I'd rate.

Thanks for taking the time to do this. I do wish there were fewer nasty people, so more editors/agents/publishers/contest judges/decision makers could help shape our work. But... it takes all kinds to rock the world. For better or for worse. *sigh*

Offline Lynn McNamee

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #46 on: December 20, 2010, 03:46:05 PM »
This is one more example as to why I'm leaving the world of writing. On the whole, I find those in positions of judment/authority to be a very snarky, unkind bunch who want things their way, or the highway.
There are very few "born writers," but those who are not should not be ridiculed and scorned.  If anything, simply provide the aspiring novice writer links to writing rules and help sites. I would think that there are many awesome stories untold. If only those writers would take time to improve their craft.
Wow!

As one of those in "positions of judment<sic>/authority," I really have to take exception to this. I am NOT "unkind." I do my very best to encourage and give honest criticism without being personal to the author.

I certainly do not get the same consideration from authors who have called me a b***, c***, fat, 'cat lady' and any other personal insult they can think of to hurl. Unfortunately, it is the poor writers who do this, so their vocabulary is not even expansive enough to make it interesting for me.  (See this link to hear me reading an e-mail from an author: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/11258871)

I offer feedback to authors whose books I choose not to read/review. Some take me up on it; others don't care enough about their books to want to know what may be wrong with it.

Julie is just trying to be nice and give feedback in a way that will hopefully keep the horrific responses down to a minimum. We are BOOK REVIEWERS, not "editors" or agents. It's not really our job to tell an author anything at all outside of what we write in a review. Therefore, any critique we give outside of a rpublic review should be considered a gift, not an insult.

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #47 on: December 20, 2010, 05:05:21 PM »
Wow!

As one of those in "positions of judment<sic>/authority," I really have to take exception to this. I am NOT "unkind." I do my very best to encourage and give honest criticism without being personal to the author.

I certainly do not get the same consideration from authors who have called me a b***, c***, fat, 'cat lady' and any other personal insult they can think of to hurl. Unfortunately, it is the poor writers who do this, so their vocabulary is not even expansive enough to make it interesting for me.  (See this link to hear me reading an e-mail from an author: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/11258871)

I offer feedback to authors whose books I choose not to read/review. Some take me up on it; others don't care enough about their books to want to know what may be wrong with it.

Julie is just trying to be nice and give feedback in a way that will hopefully keep the horrific responses down to a minimum. We are BOOK REVIEWERS, not "editors" or agents. It's not really our job to tell an author anything at all outside of what we write in a review. Therefore, any critique we give outside of a rpublic review should be considered a gift, not an insult.

Yeah, I had a typo on judgment, you also have one "rpublic."

Where did I say that you, RedAdept, were unkind?  If you wish to include yourself in the classification of "On the whole," that's your choice.

I'm sorry to hear that the verbal/written abuse seems to be a two-way street in the world of BOOK REVIEWERS. What can be done to change that?

That aside, it would be impressive if BOOK REVIEWERS would list the credentials that qualify them as reviewers, judges and critiquers. Perhaps that would carry a little weight with those seeking their services.

We've all heard the story that Dr. Seuss was rejected twenty-nine times before his first work was published.  Geesh, 29 "professionals" had a bad eye for a successful story.  Makes you wonder, doesn't it?  One person isn't all knowing, and to act as such with scores and ratings and demeaning comments is deplorable.
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Offline ericbt

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #48 on: December 20, 2010, 06:13:08 PM »
Quote
What the numbers mean:

0 Poor.  Requires significant revision or reworking.
1 Sub-par.  Does not meet minimum expectations for the category.
2 Fair. Shows potential, but would require revision before being publishable.
3 Average. Demonstrates a basic understanding of the norms expected.  Meets minimum expectations.
4 Good.  Demonstrates a solid understanding of the norms expected.  Shows a solid grasp of the necessary elements of the category.
5 Excellent.  Exceeds expectations.  Demonstrates above average understanding of the norms of the category.
6 Exceptional.  One of the best we have ever seen.  Cannot imagine how it can be improved upon. 


Does this work better?

Any thoughts on the rest of the document?  We got sort of caught up on the rankings I don't know if there was any feedback on the rest of it.

All kidding aside, with this revision of the rankings, I think it's about as perfect as it can be.  Honest and straight-forward without being personal.  That doesn't mean that some won't still take it personally, but it won't be because of the composition of your form.  The categories that you are scoring in make sense and while the judgment within those categories is still subjective to some degree, that's unavoidable.  I don't normally write anything that short, but with the document as it now stands, I find myself considering writing something to submit just so I can be evaluated.  ;D

Offline altworld

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #49 on: December 20, 2010, 06:23:25 PM »
Julie is just trying to be nice and give feedback in a way that will hopefully keep the horrific responses down to a minimum. We are BOOK REVIEWERS, not "editors" or agents. It's not really our job to tell an author anything at all outside of what we write in a review. Therefore, any critique we give outside of a rpublic review should be considered a gift, not an insult.

Okay lets be honest here just for a second. The first set of ratings published here by Jules would not keep the horrific responses to a minimum, because they all read like personal attacks and worded in a way to rub someone up the wrong way.

If horrific attacks wanted to be kept to a minimum then a professional reply that said thanks no thanks, or we are going in a different direction is all that is needed. There is a reason why the big agencies use form letters after all. It stops most time wasting correspondence dead. If the work has potential and the Agent would like to encourage the writer, then a personal suggestion would work.

Frankly I think Jules is making a rod for her own back with this system.

See, fair and honest feedback without a hint of a personal attack or veiled snideness :)
Arigato,
Nick D
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Offline Gabriela Popa

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #50 on: December 20, 2010, 07:10:38 PM »
I just had the chance to open up and read the pdf you provide in your first post.  While as I said above I believe a score system (that would provide some much desired feedback to the author) may work, I am surprised to see language such as:

"0 Abject failure. It takes significant effort to be this bad. If your goal was to do put forth the worst possible effort, then congratulations. You succeeded.
1 Poor. Cannot even manage the most basic elements of the category at a 5th grade level.
2 Sub par. Has only the bare minimum understanding of the norms expected for the category."

Such language, in my opinion, is not only be detrimental to one's professional image, it simply erodes his/her credibility as a business person.  There are more fortunate ways of giving a thumb-up or -down. 

Thus - I would spend some time working  on that language. 

Gabriela
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Offline Madeline

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #51 on: December 20, 2010, 10:34:23 PM »
The new rating system looks great, in my opinion. 

I don't think anyone is asking you to coddle people or put up with abuse from disgruntled writers whom you have rejected.   At least I wasn't.  For me, its about being the bigger person and doing the right thing.   

It's awesome that you're wanting to work on improving your wording and its even more awesome that you're wanting to give feedback in the first place. 
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Offline flanneryohello

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #52 on: December 20, 2010, 11:48:08 PM »
That aside, it would be impressive if BOOK REVIEWERS would list the credentials that qualify them as reviewers, judges and critiquers. Perhaps that would carry a little weight with those seeking their services.

We've all heard the story that Dr. Seuss was rejected twenty-nine times before his first work was published.  Geesh, 29 "professionals" had a bad eye for a successful story.  Makes you wonder, doesn't it?  One person isn't all knowing, and to act as such with scores and ratings and demeaning comments is deplorable.

Credentials to be a book reviewer?

Uh...being a reader, basically. That's the only credential a book reviewer needs. Nobody, including reviewers, claims that a book review is anything more than a single person's opinion. Everyone is entitled to one, regardless of their credentials.

Offline G.L. Douglas

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #53 on: December 21, 2010, 07:52:05 AM »
Credentials to be a book reviewer?

Uh...being a reader, basically. That's the only credential a book reviewer needs. Nobody, including reviewers, claims that a book review is anything more than a single person's opinion. Everyone is entitled to one, regardless of their credentials.

flanneryohello, in regard to my tongue-in-cheek comment regarding reviewers having credentials, I want to thank you for pointing out the obvious. Of course, any reader can deem themself a "reviewer." Their review is, as you mentioned, nothing more than a single person's opinion. Therefore, any scoring system is not meaningful to anyone other than themselves. These armchair reviewers should read up on how to write a book review, i.e., were the characters engaging, did the story move along too slowly, were the grammar/technical errors too glaring to continue reading, was the story good but poorly written, or was the story well-written, but lacking substance, would they recommend it to those who enjoy reading that genre?

In the long run, these reviewers only cause themselves harm as they gain a negative reputation in cyberspace.

If someone wants to get ahead in a professional sense, it's best to be remembered as a fair and intelligent member of that professional community.
http://www.amazon.com/Alpha-Rising-G-L-Douglas/dp/0595411002/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295359410&sr=1-1
When a failed space rescue mission lands astronaut Bach Turner and crew in a beleaguered future world, there's no way out short of blind faith and the ultimate weapon, his mind.

Offline flanneryohello

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #54 on: December 21, 2010, 10:53:30 AM »
flanneryohello, in regard to my tongue-in-cheek comment regarding reviewers having credentials, I want to thank you for pointing out the obvious. Of course, any reader can deem themself a "reviewer." Their review is, as you mentioned, nothing more than a single person's opinion. Therefore, any scoring system is not meaningful to anyone other than themselves. These armchair reviewers should read up on how to write a book review, i.e., were the characters engaging, did the story move along too slowly, were the grammar/technical errors too glaring to continue reading, was the story good but poorly written, or was the story well-written, but lacking substance, would they recommend it to those who enjoy reading that genre?

In the long run, these reviewers only cause themselves harm as they gain a negative reputation in cyberspace.

If someone wants to get ahead in a professional sense, it's best to be remembered as a fair and intelligent member of that professional community.

Honestly, I'm not sure what you're trying to say.

Which reviewers are you talking about? Why would a reviewer gain a negative reputation for expressing their opinion?

Obviously a scoring system is an inherently subjective tool, but that doesn't mean it's not useful. For someone like Julie, it provides authors who submit work with concrete feedback they can use to polish their work to her standards. If they're not interested in doing so, or don't agree with her assessment, they are free to submit elsewhere.

For a reviewer like Red Adept, who also uses a scoring system in her reviews, point values are coupled with in-depth explanations of what she liked/disliked about a particular aspect of a book. While the scoring system is subjective, anyone who makes a habit of reading Red's reviews will come to understand her perspective and the scoring system will take on meaning as she applies it to a variety of books. For a reader, the value of an individual reviewer lies in finding someone who shares your tastes. If Red reviews books that I also enjoy reading, her comments and scoring will be meaningful to me, since we generally agree.

It feels as though you're painting anyone who would dare offer criticism--especially via a scoring system--as "mean and unprofessional". I couldn't disagree more. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and they have a right to express that opinion using whatever tools they wish. They also have a right to be direct about their opinion. Writers can't expect everyone to like their work, and they also can't expect everyone to pat them on the head regardless of the strength or weakness of their efforts. Who is really helped by that type of coddling? Have you seen what the self-esteem movement has done to our current generation of young people?

Offline G.L. Douglas

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #55 on: December 21, 2010, 01:01:36 PM »
quote author=flanneryohello link=topic=45283.msg802890#msg802890 date=1292957610
Honestly, I'm not sure what you're trying to say.

Which reviewers are you talking about? Why would a reviewer gain a negative reputation for expressing their opinion?

I'm not sure why you're not understanding that when a "reviewer" belittles, disrespects and pokes fun at someone's effort that it should be unacceptable.  If that "reviewer" is continually unprofessional, snarky and spiteful, the word will eventually get around the internet, and I don't think that is the type of reputation anyone would want if they're trying to have their opinion deemed "useful."

Obviously a scoring system is an inherently subjective tool, but that doesn't mean it's not useful. For someone like Julie, it provides authors who submit work with concrete feedback they can use to polish their work to her standards. If they're not interested in doing so, or don't agree with her assessment, they are free to submit elsewhere.

I have never seen a a scoring system utilized by a syndicated (read professional) book reviewer. They know how to correctly write a book review.

For a reviewer like Red Adept, who also uses a scoring system in her reviews, point values are coupled with in-depth explanations of what she liked/disliked about a particular aspect of a book. While the scoring system is subjective, anyone who makes a habit of reading Red's reviews will come to understand her perspective and the scoring system will take on meaning as she applies it to a variety of books. For a reader, the value of an individual reviewer lies in finding someone who shares your tastes. If Red reviews books that I also enjoy reading, her comments and scoring will be meaningful to me, since we generally agree.

It feels as though you're painting anyone who would dare offer criticism--especially via a scoring system--as "mean and unprofessional". I couldn't disagree more. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and they have a right to express that opinion using whatever tools they wish. They also have a right to be direct about their opinion. Writers can't expect everyone to like their work, and they also can't expect everyone to pat them on the head regardless of the strength or weakness of their efforts. Who is really helped by that type of coddling? Have you seen what the self-esteem movement has done to our current generation of young people?

 Once again, you misread my comments. No where have I suggested a "reviewer" build a writer's self-esteem, nor coddle them. I provided examples of correct review commentary, and it isn't a lesson in esteem building.Thought-provoking, intelligent feedback, whether positive or negative, is what most all writers seek.

Your desire for, and support of, a scoring system is the polar opposite of what you seem to be complaining about with the "self-esteem movement" and what it "has done to our current generation of young people." Imagine, if you will, a puffed up writer boasting about getting a 5 score, when his buddy only got a 2.  Constructive comments without "scores" leave no room for this type of "self-esteem" elevation.

From what I've witnessed, the "thin skin" goes both ways...writers and reviewers. And since you previously pointed out that reviewers have no credentials and theirs is "one opinion" I would encourage all writers to remember that, and if they receive a review they don't like, to laugh it off, remembering that it's the opinion of an ordinary person with no special training who happens to also lack compassion and professionalism, and is unable to separate their personal comments from a professional assessment.  That way, the reviewer is protected from adverse remarks in return.


(Let me add that I will not continue to beat this horse. This is my last post on the subject.)
 
« Last Edit: December 21, 2010, 01:13:49 PM by G.L. Douglas »
http://www.amazon.com/Alpha-Rising-G-L-Douglas/dp/0595411002/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295359410&sr=1-1
When a failed space rescue mission lands astronaut Bach Turner and crew in a beleaguered future world, there's no way out short of blind faith and the ultimate weapon, his mind.

Offline CIBond

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Re: Opinions Requested: Writer Feedback form
« Reply #56 on: December 21, 2010, 02:25:45 PM »
We are talking about a professional response to a professional submission not an Amazon review written by a regular reader or a critique written by a professional reviewer.  There are rules, there have to be if you want to be seen as a professional and they are different depending upon which hat you wear. 

The best response from a publishing professional is something to the effect of:
Thank you for your submission to The Magazine, your story is not what we are looking for at this time.

A handwritten note at the bottom of the form letter would be a wonderful touch and very much appreciated:

For our publication, I felt that your characters werent very well developed, the main character wasnt sympathetic.  Your story needs a more controlled POV, the current accepted practice in publishing is one POV per scene although there are authors who are successful and dont follow this convention.  The dialogue could use more work, each character speaks with the same voice.

Instead of saying that the story wasnt original or the plot sucked you could say:  We have received numerous stories about the plight of transgender-dwarfs and have published several but now we are looking for something different.

At no point do you tell the writer that their skills suck, its the story that it at fault and at no point to you imply that you are the ultimate authority on anything other than what you are looking to publish right now.  I think that is a much better way to go because as we all know many successful books are rejected over and over before they hit the big time, no one knows what is really going to work and what isnt.

The form-letter scoring system reminds me of a contest and contests usually have a panel of judges who have written best-sellers, have years of industry experience, etc.  The individual didnt submit to a contest they just want to know if their story is right for your publication or not.  Your scored response might be a case of TMI and can only hurt you because it makes you look arrogant.  An intelligent rejectee would pick-up your publication or book, do his homework and adapt his/her work accordingly before submitting again.  The answers are out there, if someone doesnt go get them they probably dont want them and shoving someones face in them isnt going to decrease the amount of hard feelings - if thats the ultimate goal.  If your goal is to teach people how to write that is an entirely different position from being a publisher accepting submissions. 

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