This week was very productive. I spent it absorbing feedback I received from my reviewers. An author friend cautioned that reading feedback “…is both exhilarating (because you are making the final product that much better) and frustrating, especially when reviewers offer contradictory advice.” I found it exhilarating and exhausting, but not frustrating. There were more common themes than individual threads.
The great news is that I am on track to completing the book I wanted to write. Equally great news – there are many ways I can make it better and I still have a lot of work to do.
Reviewing multi-source feedback feels like the role Tom Cruise played in Minority Report; your job is to look for patterns across multiple pieces of information. The challenge is to keep everything in your head while you find the connections. I wonder if Tom got headaches while he was filming these scenes.
Speaking with my reviewers to clarify points and test solutions has been a great help. Halfway through these discussions, here are the changes I am making:
- Audience: clarify who the book is written for
- Navigation: be more directive on how best to use the book
- Structure: categorize chapters by theme – results, the plan, resources, and communication
- Format: add graphic elements to help the reader find the information they need
- Content: open each chapter with one or two quotes and remove the ‘Words of Wisdom’ section
- Content: Delete the stories that don’t illustrate ‘What works/What doesn’t work’ sections
- Writing Style: Make it more personal, more ‘Phil’ – some parts read like a text book
Reviewing feedback is like searching for constellations. The stars are in full view, but you need to look hard to find the patterns. Having a team of generous astronomers helps a lot.
The other day, I was scrolling through a technical newsletter (to improve my social media strategy!) and I came across an intriguing article called ‘Unboxing the Kindle Fire.’
A lot has been written about this low cost, high value tablet but this was the first article I had seen about how to properly unveil one. Since feedback is like a gift, this was an apt analogy for opening my reviewers’ comments on the sample excerpt they have read.
Like most things in life, there are bad, good and best ways of doing them. I reasoned it would be wise to put some thought into how best to open my feedback to make the most of the experience.
Here are the guidelines I follow:
– Open one gift at a time
– Unwrap it slowly
– Look at the whole gift first and then look at
– Appreciate why the giver chose the features
– they were selected for a purpose
– Keep the packaging
– care was put into the wrapping, which is an important part of the gift
– Enjoy the experience
– Be grateful
To push the analogy further, I will line up my gifts and look for trends. Are there common themes? Any types of gift I haven’t received? What is the best order in which to explore them?
It is better to give than to receive, but receiving is great, too!