Monday 6 October 2014

Your Date Only Wants You For Your Feedback

Signs of a problem: your date brings up his or her novel within three minutes; your date pitches his or her idea and asks what you think; he or she doesn’t notice that you had your hair done.

The symptoms: frustration; irritation; dis­appointment.

You’re sitting opposite the person of your dreams, wondering how the date will end. Then, suddenly, out pops a tatty A5 notebook and with it the words “I wondered if you’d like to read my novel.” Your heart sinks. “It’s only one hundred thousand words,” you hear. “I’d really appreciate your feedback.”

If you are certain that the date only wants you for your writer’s eye, then you are well within your rights to storm out; you have been misled. However, it is possible, likely even, that a date may be interested in both your writing and a romance. In which case, you need to gather more information.

Quickly establish some ground rules. Do you want to be your date’s editor? Do you want to have to give your date honest feedback?

The literary product of your date’s blood and sweat could be absolutely dreadful. Do you really want to be the one to point out that a fourteen-year-old could write better erotica than Me and My Six-Inch Snake? But can you bear to start your relationship with a lie?

Of course, there’s the possibility that your date’s work will really excite you and you will be able to form an electric partnership where bouncing ideas off each other becomes a wonderful hobby.

But then again, what if your date’s work is as good as, if not better than yours? Do you really want to be in direct competition with your lover? What if your date’s book gets a five star review and, the same day, yours gets a critical review? There’s a lifetime of friction and frustration to consider

Additional Blog-Exclusive Advice

By Jim Webster

Now now please, this is your common sense speaking. Let us at least look at this manuscript. There are so many reasons for doing this, they are almost jumping up and down in their desperate attempt to be noticed.

Firstly, is this date the best looking thing you’ve managed to go out with since you walked your neighbour’s Labrador? A wise man is not going to be hasty at this point. Take the manuscript with a firm, confident hand. What is this charming creature writing? Romance? Don’t knock it, it sells. If it is any good this witty and intelligent lady can, in years to come, keep you in a standard to which you’ve always felt that you ought to become accustomed. Erotica? Well no matter how bad it is, it always leaves open the option for you to express your editorial opinion that the positions adopted on pages twenty three through to forty must surely be impossible and that it really needs intensive field trials to make sure what can and cannot be done.

Also at this point it might be the time to interject an element of humility into our own thinking. There are times when it pays a chap to contemplate his own sales figures. Are you feeling betrayed because your latest work has sold only four copies, and your mother and four siblings all promised faithfully to buy a copy? If you edit your date’s manuscript she could be grateful. Not merely grateful enough to sleep with you but perhaps even grateful enough to buy a copy of your book! Based on the amount of time an indie writer can spend promoting to get a sale, editing a hundred thousand word manuscript for a guaranteed sale probably counts as a short cut.

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