Six Ways to Get Feedback From Your Readers
Authors love feedback. It comes with the territory. After all, we spend hundreds of hours at the keyboard, writing, editing and marketing our releases, and feedback helps to remind us that there are people out there who appreciate it.
Of course, not all feedback is good feedback. Luckily, even negative reviews can help you to grow as an author, as long as they contain constructive criticism. It helps you to find areas that you can improve, and research shows that negative reviews can even help you to sell more copies.
But it isn’t always easy to pick up feedback, and even when people do take the time to review your work, they often say something simple, like “I liked it.” While that’s all well and good for boosting your ego, it’s not as actionable as “I liked the relationships between the characters but it needed some work on the backstory.”
So how can you go about gathering feedback from your readers? And how can you make sure that it’s feedback that you can act upon? Here are six techniques to get you started.
The first thing to do is to ask people – you’d be surprised at how many of your followers will be happy to give you feedback, especially if you ask for specifics. This can be as simple as posting a social media update or as complicated as sending out email marketing messages or paid advertisements. Communicate what you’re looking for – if you want reviews on Amazon, ask! If you want to know what people think of your dialogue, ask! Remember the old adage: if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
A call-to-action is essentially a piece of text or a clickable button or image that tells people what you want them to do. They’re usually placed on a prominent area of a website and encourage people to ‘buy now’, ‘click here’ or – in this case – ‘leave feedback’. Web developers (like post sponsors Publishing Addict) can help to add calls-to-action to your author website to encourage visitors to leave feedback, join your mailing list or buy your books.
Surveys are great because you can define the questions and the types of answer that you’re looking for, and you can examine the data either individually or en masse. Free tools like SurveyMonkey will usually be enough to get the job done, and they offer a unique way of analysing every aspect of your work, from the way that you write to the way that you communicate new releases.
Give people a reason to read and comment on your work, even if it’s just a free e-book in exchange for their time. There’s also room to be creative – for example, you could offer some merchandise in exchange for a review, or even the chance to have a character named after the reviewer in a future release. It doesn’t have to be something huge – even a small incentive can make the difference between someone posting a review and them thinking ‘I’ll do it later.’
For a different type of feedback, consider teaming up with another author and swapping books with each other. That way, you can both leave comments throughout and go into more depth than you’d see from a typical review, and there’s the added advantage that the two of you will both look at it with a writer’s eyes, effectively providing a lightweight form of conceptual editing.
Act On It
Once you’re starting to receive feedback, you need to act on it. Otherwise, the whole process was an exercise in futility, and when you were asking your readers for feedback, you were really asking them for validation. Feedback without action is useless, but if you take what you’re told and learn from it, your work will improve and your readers will be more likely to provide additional feedback in the future. Make sure that you communicate what you’ve learned so that your readers can see that their feedback is helping out.
How do you get feedback from your readers? And how often do you act on what they tell you? Let us know what you think with a comment.
About the author
This post is written by Dane Cobain and sponsored by Publishing Addict, an organisation that specialises in author website design to help writers to establish a brand, connect with their readers and to sell more books.