There's nothing quite like the energy poured forth during a Secret Agent contest. The blog froths and bubbles on its own while I watch.
I've got to say a few things about How To Receive Feedback, though. Because, yeah, I saw some stuff out there I didn't like. (Not here. Elsewhere.)
Throwing our stuff out there for critique can make us feel naked. In a cold room. With people staring. And it helps to be able to vent that angst so we can walk through it and keep going, hopefully to receive the feedback in a constructive manner. So vent away.
But if you're going to boo-hoo to your friends about the "snark" in your comment box, I'm not impressed. For two reasons:
1. If it's really snark, YOU NEED TO TELL ME ABOUT IT. I don't have time to read each of the hundreds of comments that pour into my inbox. And if something truly snarky comes through, I WILL delete it. Boo-hooing about it somewhere else doesn't help me police the blog.
2. Often, a comment labeled "snark" by a sensitive author isn't snark at all. It's bluntness. And yes, there's a difference. If you can't tell the difference yet, you aren't ready for the harsh environment that is the publishing industry. GROW YOUR THICK SKIN NOW.
I've blogged about this before, sharing the actual email I sent to a distraught writer who was struggling with negative feedback. No, he didn't label the feedback "snark." He took it much more personally. But he prevailed. And made bigger strides in his journey as a writer than he probably realizes.
Honestly? I expect you to be ready (emotionally, mentally) to receive the feedback you'll get if you enter a Secret Agent contest. If you're not there yet, do your fellow authors the service of NOT TAKING A PLACE in the contest. There are others who are ready, who are willing to take the negative with the positive and make good things happen with their manuscripts.
And actually? That's the vast majority of you.
This blog is NOT a snark-o-rama. The regulars know this. The seasoned writers know this. And the folks offering critique? They are sacrificing a lot of time. A LOT. I watch some of them go through a dozen or more at a pop. Some read and comment on EVERY ENTRY. If you're going to then complain about their comments, you are doing them a disservice. All of them. Because you have no idea how much personal time each of them has sacrificed in an effort to give something back to the writing community of which they are part.
Also? If the result of your boo-hooing is a gaggle of well-meaning friends popping onto your entry and singing the praises of your excerpt as though you are the next King or Rowling, then your friends are doing YOU a disservice as well. If all you want is a pat on the back and undying admiration, share your book with your mom, your fourth grade reading teacher, and your dog. None of them will have anything bad to say about it. They will also have absolutely nothing constructive to offer, but at least you'll have warm fuzzies.
And hey. YOU KNOW HOW PASSIONATELY I CARE ABOUT THIS COMMUNITY. If I didn't care, I wouldn't do this. And if you're seriously hurt or confused by a comment on your excerpt, I'm the one who needs to know about it. TELL ME.
But here's the caveat: If I don't think it's snark, I'll tell you. And I won't delete it.
As in, this is snark:
I fell asleep after the second sentence. This has got to be the most boring, poorly written opening I've ever read in my life. Someone needs to hide all the computers and typewriters at your house.
And this is not:
I lost interest after the second sentence. While the setting is intriguing, there wasn't anything here to make me care about the main character. There was a lot of telling, too much backstory. This might not be the best place to start your story.
If you think the second example is "snark" then you're not ready for an honest assessment of your work. Sure, a critique like that is going to sting. No one has promised us a pain-free ride, yes? But we've got to buck up. Comments pointing out potentially serious flaws in our work are meant to SAVE US.
Okay, that sounded more dramatic than I meant it to. But I think you understand me.
This blog is one of the "safer" places to throw your work. I'll do my best to keep it that way for you. But you're going to have to direct your "boo-hoos" to me, or I can't do my job.
REAL boo-hoos. Snark. Personal attacks. That sort of thing. I'll get rid of it in a heartbeat.
So. Onward. With big hugs, as always.