Writing can be a lonely occupation. You sit, day after day, staring at a blank page or computer screen, lost in thought, plotting, building stories, putting words into characters’ mouths. You polish and rewrite, edit and cut, and get the work so it’s as good as you can make it, and then you let it loose to make its way in the world.
Now, obviously, you like the creation it has grown into. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t set it free. But in the back of your mind, there’s always that niggle… do other people like it as much as you do? Do they enjoy reading your book or watching your play? What about your work did they not enjoy, and is there anything you can do to improve the next piece?
If a writer hopes to improve with each work, then feedback is not only desirable, it’s essential. Feedback lets you know what people thought. It also helps those who are thinking of buying your book or investing in a ticket to see your play.
I try to give feedback on novels I read, by leaving reviews on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/) or at Barnes and Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/). I try to be constructive in my reviews, too. Not all of my reviews are five star and glowing, although I do try to say why they have slipped down the rankings. I enjoy leaving the reviews and I hope they are helpful to the writers, too. I know I am looking forward to my first reviews after the Bankrupt Viscount comes out next week.
Reviews of my plays are harder to come by. Most performances are by am-dram groups and if their local press covers the play, I may not get to see it. Which is why I am thrilled when someone like NODA puts a review online, where I can read it. That happened just this week, when they reviewed my play, “Volunteers”. You can read the review here: http://www.noda.org.uk/events/reports/volunteers_1
If you read a book, or see a play, may I encourage you to leave a review? It doesn’t take long, but I can assure you, it means the world to the author.